SCIENTISTS have built the smallest petrol
engine, tiny enough to power a WATCH. The mini-motor, which runs for two years
on a single squirt of lighter fuel, is set to revolutionize world technology. It
produces 700 times more energy than a conventional battery despite being
less than a centimeter long not even half an inch. It could be used to operate
laptops and mobile phones for months doing away with the need for recharging.
Experts believe it could be phasing out batteries in such items within just six
years. The engine, minute enough to be balanced on a fingertip, has been
produced by engineers at the University of Birmingham.
Dr Kyle Jiang, lead investigator from the
Department of Mechanical Engineering, said: We are looking at an industrial
revolution happening in peoples pockets.The breakthrough is an enormous step
forward. Devices which need re-charging or new batteries are a problem but in
six years will be a thing of the past.
Other applications for the engine
could include medical and military uses, such as running heart pacemakers or
mini reconnaissance robots. At present, charging an ordinary battery to deliver
one unit of energy involves putting 2,000 units into it. The little
engine, because energy is produced locally, is far more effective. One of the
main problems faced by engineers who have tried to produce micro motors in the
past has been the levels of heat produced. The engines got so hot they burned
themselves out and could not be re-used. The Birminghamteam overcame this by
using heat-resistant materials such as ceramic and silicon
Davies, head of the
university's engineering school, said: 'We've brought together all the
engineering disciplines, materials, chemical engineering, civil engineering, and
mechanical engineering. What better place to have the second industrial
revolution in nano-technology than where the first took place, in the heart of
the West Midlands.