PRL Motorsports Air / Oil Separator Product Development - Revisited

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As some of you may recall, we had previously began development for 10th Gen Civic 1.5T Air / Oil Separator back in 2018 that was ultimately placed on the backburner. Our Product Development Team decided to shift efforts into increasing production efficiency and expanding our horizons by creating new/more offerings for other relative platforms such as the FK8 Civic Type-R, 10th Gen Accord(s) and 11th Gen Civic. We did not forget about this project, though, it has been on our mind since the original announcement of development.

Good things come to those who wait.

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Over the years PRL Motorsports has evolved quite a bit with our production capabilities and designs. During the time of initial AOS Development we were proud of, yet limited, by our machining capabilities. Sure, we could machine a pretty slick looking billet AOS / catch-can with ease. However, the difficult part for us was being able to offer this to the community at a cost-effective price due to the lengthy machine time, assembly of these numerous components and cost of numerous custom fittings. Today, we now have experience with other manufacturing methods, such as investment casting. Using aluminum investment casting instead of CNC machining will allow us to integrate many of our design's complex features that once required multiple pieces and operations into many fewer components. In turn, this gives us the ability to keep costs down, while also being able to drastically increase production speeds once molds are complete. We will still be using some machining for intricate finishing, such as threads, O-rings and top/bottom end caps. Most importantly, this casting process will allow us to implement one of the most innovative and effective designs in the automotive market yet!

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More information such as internal concept design pictures to come soon, as well as a name we will be giving this AOS. Our goal is to make this can as universal as possible, with specific hoses/brackets to fit the 10th Gen Civic, FK8 Civic Type-R, 11th Gen Civic & 10th Gen Accords. Stay tuned!

https://prlmotorsports.com/blogs/product-development/air-oil-separator-product-development-revisited

 

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Any chance you plan on doing a petcock for it? Really excited to always see y’all continuing development!
 

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Would this be a replacement for the Radium catch can?
 
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In our previous AOS Development Blog Post, we made a big claim that this will be "...one of the most innovative and effective designs in the automotive market yet," but didn't really explain the specifics. Today we're here to dive into why our Patent Pending Helical Air Oil Separator is such a big deal.

CC7.PNG


Oil vapor is an inevitable by-product in any combustion engine and can make its way into the intake tract, throttle body, and charge air intercooler system. In high horsepower applications, or hard driving scenarios the amount of oil vapor is increased and can have a number of detrimental effects. Now, we know what you’re thinking. Isn’t the car designed to recirculate the vapors from the factory? The simple answer is yes. However, inspecting more closely gives us an indication as to why adding a catch can may be beneficial for the longevity of your engine.

Unlike older, naturally aspirated port injection Honda engines that most folks are familiar with, modern turbocharged direct injection engines inject atomized fuel directly into the combustion chambers at high fuel pressure. A drawback to this directly injected high fuel pressure is the increased chance of oil dilution due to fuel seeping beyond the piston rings. The chance of oil dilution can be escalated by the use of ethanol-based fuels because of their higher commanded fuel volume and higher diffusion coefficient in comparison to standard gasoline. Because there’s no fuel traveling along the runners and onto the intake valves to wash them clean of debris, the only contents hitting the intake valves are air and oil vapor, which is rerouted from the PCV. Over time, deposits and sludge weigh down on the valves, which hinder airflow into the combustion chamber and reduce the volumetric efficiency of your engine. This can generally be remedied by an expensive and timely process called walnut blasting, but why not do some preventative modification to avoid this hassle?

To touch on something we covered years back during our original development with this project - Honda's factory PCV system does work very well through their complex, yet efficient, valve cover design. However, it is important to note that this was never intended to work efficiently at higher power output levels. Increased power output typically means higher cylinder pressures and added wear & tear on engine internals. Excess cylinder pressure needs to be relieved somehow, usually by escaping through the piston rings and into the crankcase as blow-by. Reports of blow-by have increased with time as more applications have experienced high horsepower output, hard driving styles, or simply with engine age. We’ve seen cases of oil pooling in the intake tracts and intercooler system, which reduce the cooling efficiency, as well as a slew of other effects. Excess oil vapor can coat sensors and affect sensor readings. It can make its way into the combustion chamber, reducing the octane level of the air-fuel mixture, and can lead to inefficient, or incomplete combustion (detonation). In mild cases, this creates carbon deposits that clogs injectors, fouls spark plugs and coats pistons. In more extreme cases, typically in high horsepower applications, this lower octane level can cause premature detonation and destroy an engine entirely.

Most newer vehicles require a "closed" PCV system because the ECU meters airflow. Closed PCV systems use a 1-way check valve that only allows crankcase gases to flow one way into the system. These valves can either be spring loaded or pressure operated, which can become a bit complicated when trying to develop an aftermarket crankcase ventilation system in a forced induction application. A poorly designed system could result in a vacuum or boost leak or backup.

CC9.PNG


So, what makes our catch can different? There can’t really be much innovation in a product that’s so commonly sold in the automotive aftermarket can there? Besides looking into ways to make the AOS universal and easy to maintain as possible, the key was to look outside of our industry and into other applications, where air-oil separation is much more critical to maintaining a healthy system. Specifically, we’ve looked into industrial applications like air conditioning, and gas pipelines. This research has led us to design a catch can with a helical cross section, where some industries report helical oil separators offering 99% to 100% efficiency in oil separation with low pressure drop.

CC10.PNG


Upon entering the oil separator, air-oil mixture encounters the leading edge of a helical flighting. The mixture is centrifugally forced down along the spiral path of the helix, causing the heavier oil particles to spin to the perimeter, where it encounters a wall. The separated oil then flows downward along the boundary of the shell through a baffle and into an oil collection reservoir threaded into the bottom of the separator. The specially designed baffle isolates the oil collection and eliminates oil re-entry by stripping excess oil particles from the air and preventing turbulence.

CC6.PNG

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We have quite a few tricks up our sleeve that will help make this can as universal as possible, with specific hoses/brackets to fit the 10th Gen Civic, FK8 Civic Type-R, 11th Gen Civic & 10th Gen Accords. Stay tuned for more updates and future posts where we cover this, and our unique approach to fittings/line assemblies for this setup as well!

Blog Post Link
 


FK8_K20c1

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In our previous AOS Development Blog Post, we made a big claim that this will be "...one of the most innovative and effective designs in the automotive market yet," but didn't really explain the specifics. Today we're here to dive into why our Patent Pending Helical Air Oil Separator is such a big deal.

CC7.PNG


Oil vapor is an inevitable by-product in any combustion engine and can make its way into the intake tract, throttle body, and charge air intercooler system. In high horsepower applications, or hard driving scenarios the amount of oil vapor is increased and can have a number of detrimental effects. Now, we know what you’re thinking. Isn’t the car designed to recirculate the vapors from the factory? The simple answer is yes. However, inspecting more closely gives us an indication as to why adding a catch can may be beneficial for the longevity of your engine.

Unlike older, naturally aspirated port injection Honda engines that most folks are familiar with, modern turbocharged direct injection engines inject atomized fuel directly into the combustion chambers at high fuel pressure. A drawback to this directly injected high fuel pressure is the increased chance of oil dilution due to fuel seeping beyond the piston rings. The chance of oil dilution can be escalated by the use of ethanol-based fuels because of their higher commanded fuel volume and higher diffusion coefficient in comparison to standard gasoline. Because there’s no fuel traveling along the runners and onto the intake valves to wash them clean of debris, the only contents hitting the intake valves are air and oil vapor, which is rerouted from the PCV. Over time, deposits and sludge weigh down on the valves, which hinder airflow into the combustion chamber and reduce the volumetric efficiency of your engine. This can generally be remedied by an expensive and timely process called walnut blasting, but why not do some preventative modification to avoid this hassle?

To touch on something we covered years back during our original development with this project - Honda's factory PCV system does work very well through their complex, yet efficient, valve cover design. However, it is important to note that this was never intended to work efficiently at higher power output levels. Increased power output typically means higher cylinder pressures and added wear & tear on engine internals. Excess cylinder pressure needs to be relieved somehow, usually by escaping through the piston rings and into the crankcase as blow-by. Reports of blow-by have increased with time as more applications have experienced high horsepower output, hard driving styles, or simply with engine age. We’ve seen cases of oil pooling in the intake tracts and intercooler system, which reduce the cooling efficiency, as well as a slew of other effects. Excess oil vapor can coat sensors and affect sensor readings. It can make its way into the combustion chamber, reducing the octane level of the air-fuel mixture, and can lead to inefficient, or incomplete combustion (detonation). In mild cases, this creates carbon deposits that clogs injectors, fouls spark plugs and coats pistons. In more extreme cases, typically in high horsepower applications, this lower octane level can cause premature detonation and destroy an engine entirely.

Most newer vehicles require a "closed" PCV system because the ECU meters airflow. Closed PCV systems use a 1-way check valve that only allows crankcase gases to flow one way into the system. These valves can either be spring loaded or pressure operated, which can become a bit complicated when trying to develop an aftermarket crankcase ventilation system in a forced induction application. A poorly designed system could result in a vacuum or boost leak or backup.

CC9.PNG


So, what makes our catch can different? There can’t really be much innovation in a product that’s so commonly sold in the automotive aftermarket can there? Besides looking into ways to make the AOS universal and easy to maintain as possible, the key was to look outside of our industry and into other applications, where air-oil separation is much more critical to maintaining a healthy system. Specifically, we’ve looked into industrial applications like air conditioning, and gas pipelines. This research has led us to design a catch can with a helical cross section, where some industries report helical oil separators offering 99% to 100% efficiency in oil separation with low pressure drop.

CC10.PNG


Upon entering the oil separator, air-oil mixture encounters the leading edge of a helical flighting. The mixture is centrifugally forced down along the spiral path of the helix, causing the heavier oil particles to spin to the perimeter, where it encounters a wall. The separated oil then flows downward along the boundary of the shell through a baffle and into an oil collection reservoir threaded into the bottom of the separator. The specially designed baffle isolates the oil collection and eliminates oil re-entry by stripping excess oil particles from the air and preventing turbulence.

CC6.PNG

CC8.PNG



We have quite a few tricks up our sleeve that will help make this can as universal as possible, with specific hoses/brackets to fit the 10th Gen Civic, FK8 Civic Type-R, 11th Gen Civic & 10th Gen Accords. Stay tuned for more updates and future posts where we cover this, and our unique approach to fittings/line assemblies for this setup as well!

Blog Post Link
Great explanation, is it possible to combine the PCV and CCV Catch Can into one Can?
 
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Great explanation, is it possible to combine the PCV and CCV Catch Can into one Can?
This will be covered in our next blog development post. You may have noticed there were some slight changes in our concept/prototypes since our first post in 2018, the most recent one and then now. Running PCV/CCV with this particular design has given us with some major obstacles, so we're currently at a crossroads. We'll cover this thoroughly.
 


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278655372_677293276903918_1871493699970227108_n.jpg


Previously in our AOS development posts, we hinted at some things we were testing to make our catch can a more effective and innovative product. Shown in the picture above is a test rig to simulate the functionality of a catch can. You may notice that this simulation has plumbing coming from BOTH the PCV and the CCV side. You may see some dual catch cans on the market, which pull from both the PCV and the CCV side in an effort to capture as much excess oil vapor from the intake air as possible. We wanted to test the possibility of routing both systems into one can in an effort to simplify the system and reduce cost.

However, in running our tests on the street under many different conditions, we found that even with both systems remaining closed and separate, there was a consistent and problematic fuel trim issue. This was most apparent at idle, where we were experiencing inconsistent short and long term fuel trims, and also a very slight, yet noticeable idle surge. Though, some of these issues may be able to be solved with tuning, or may not be considered critical to some, we strive to bring our customers the best products possible. Because of this, we will not be offering a dual port, combined PCV + CCV Air Oil Separator.

Now that we have finalized the direction in which we will head with this AOS, we are able to refine our design.

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You may notice that the visual design of our catch can looks much different than it did in the previous blog post. This is because we have decided to switch manufacturing techniques to help expedite the production timeline and allow us to bring more production in-house. We redesigned the canister body to be billet 6061 aluminum, as well as accept a separate billet helix center section with an integrated spiral baffle plate. This design change, however, wasn’t just to offer more billet bling (although it does that pretty effectively now), the functionality has also been improved. Due to the divorced helix, as opposed to integrated with the previous design, we will have clearance between the edge of the helix and the interior walls of the can. This means that excess oil vapor, in addition to collecting on and running down the helix, now has the ability to sling outwards, collect on the walls, and drip down to the baffle plate. This maximizes the amount of oil separated from the intake air. We also added some slick external helical profiling and knurling on the out side of the can for aesthetics and function.

First article prototypes are currently in production so that we can begin final test fitting and data collection. This AOS should be available this summer - stay tuned for pricing expected release date!

Blog Post
 
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287351044_772409624172895_4541563113710341148_n.jpg


Here's a little update from today - we're currently running our first small batch of prototype samples for final testing before starting a full production run and sending off to anodizing.

How does she look?
 

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Here's a little update from today - we're currently running our first small batch of prototype samples for final testing before starting a full production run and sending off to anodizing.

How does she look?

Looking good! Could I get it without anodizing?!
 
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Here's a first official look
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at our Helix Air Oil Separator (patent pending) functioning prototype! This AOS will be compatible with most modern Honda/Acura applications. We are still on target to have these available by the end of this summer. Stay tuned for pricing and expected release date.
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