Car engine

Intelligent Valve Actuation (IVA) and the future of car engines

Over the last ten years, many car manufacturers have downsized their engines. Hybrid power plants and turbochargers are increasingly being ushered in instead. Car makers have gone down this road due to tighter emissions and fuel-economy regulations as the need for new technology to make engines even cleaner is high on the agenda of engineers.

Intelligent Valve Actuation (IVA)

This is where IVA comes in. It is an efficient, ground-breaking type of engine valve actuation that eliminates the need to link to the crankshaft and allows valve timing to vary and work independently. The engine invention is the brainchild of Camcon, a UK-based technology company.

What are engine valves?

To begin to dive into this technology, it might be useful to look at what engine valves are. They are housed in a vehicle’s cylinder head. The fundamental purpose of these valves is to allow air in and out of the cylinders. The air helps ignite the fuel, which then drives the pistons up and down.

There are two main engine valves—intake and exhaust valves. The intake valves enable air to come in and the exhaust valves to let the air out. These valves play a vital role in an engine’s performance. This is because the more air you can move in and out of the engine, the more efficient and powerful it will be.

How does Intelligent Valve Actuation (IVA) work?

Unconventional valvetrain arrangements have been ushered in—and ushered out—almost as quickly over the years. These have included hydraulic, solenoid and pneumatic types, but the Camcon answer uses the firm’s electrically controlled ‘bi-stable actuator’. The stage at which the valve opens and closes is regulated solely by electrical signals, not the location of a camshaft, crankshaft or spring. What’s more, power is not needed to keep the valve in the open or the closed position.

What are the benefits of IVA?

The advantages of the Intelligent Valve Actuation (IVA) system are far-reaching, mainly because there’s less mechanical complexity. Camshafts, valve springs and the belts and chains connecting them to the crankshaft are all unnecessary. This results in an uncomplicated system, which has the capacity to be cheaper, lighter and more resilient.

It will make the nightmare of a broken cambelt a thing of the past, too. However, the most significant benefit of IVA is that it will provide petrol engines with the economy of diesel, but with better emissions.

What does the future hold for engines?

Today, over half of Toyota’s massive product range is electrified in some shape or form. The Japanese firm uses fuel cell, plug-in hybrid, or pure hybrid technology. Nissan is also moving forward with its ‘e-power’ strategy. However, Mazda believes that the contemporary internal combustion engine is still the way to go. It claims that engines simply need to be more efficient and a lot cleaner, as we’ve seen from the company’s state-of-the-art Skyactiv technology.

What does this mean for Intelligent Valve Actuation? Well, Camcon has introduced IVA to key motor manufacturers in Japan, but no Japanese carmakers have said they will use the technology yet. There’s still a lot of scope for IVA, though. In fact, the system, which has been under development for the last seven years, is currently being put to the test on British tarmac in a Jaguar prototype.

The bottom line is that IVA will continue to be offered to major vehicle producers and it could prove to be an efficiency game-changer if adopted. The tech continues to be developed and, if implemented, could reach mass production in less than five years.

Find your next car

IVA may be some way off yet, but in the meantime, check out the range of fuel-efficient cars available to lease with the Motability Scheme. If you are already a customer, find out more about getting your next car.

The Motability Scheme allows you to exchange all or part of your mobility allowance for leasing a car, scooter or powered wheelchair. For more information about joining the Motability Scheme, you can request a free information pack and we’ll send you everything you need to know to help you make the right choice.

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