Innovations Make Internal Combustion Engines Much More Efficient

(p. B4) . . . gas- and diesel-powered engines are not done yet. Just as electrified cars — whether hybrids or pure battery-powered models — seem headed for market dominance, Mazda announced a breakthrough in gasoline engines that could make them far more efficient. It is the latest plot twist in a century of improvements for internal combustion engines, a power source pronounced dead many times that has persisted nevertheless.
. . .
Mazda said it had made a big advance in a combustion method commonly known as homogeneous charge compression ignition, which would result in gasoline engines that are 20 to 30 percent more efficient than the company’s best existing engines. Researchers around the world have tried to crack this process for years, but it has never really left the laboratory.
Mazda, which now markets no hybrid vehicles, calls the engine Skyactiv-X and says it is scheduled for a 2019 introduction. In simplest terms, the big difference with the new engine is that under certain running conditions, the gasoline is ignited without the use of spark plugs. Instead, combustion is set off by the extreme heat in the cylinder that results from the piston inside the engine traveling upward and compressing air trapped inside, the same method diesel engines use. The efficiency gains come with the ability to operate using a very lean mixture — very little gas for the amount of air — that a typical spark-ignition engine cannot burn cleanly.

For the full story, see:
NORMAN MAYERSOHN. “Advances Mean Plenty of Life Left for Internal Combustion Engine.” The New York Times (Fri., August 18, 2017): B4.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date AUG. 17, 2017, and has the title “WHEELS; The Internal Combustion Engine Is Not Dead Yet.”)

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