A hurdle that has faced researchers for many decades might soon be overcome by Delphi, a leading supplier of major parts to automakers. The company has developed an engine that could sit between low-emission gasoline engines on one side, and the highly polluting but more efficient diesel engines on the other. The new technology could see an increase in the efficiency of gas-powered vehicles by 50%.
The concept aims to create an engine running on gasoline but in the similitude of a highly-efficient diesel one. Indeed, approximations suggest that this new technology even be more efficient than diesel engines. This is a potential rivalry to hybrid vehicles’ performance at a lower cost.
Delphi has already run trials using a single-piston test engine while putting in place a wide range of operating conditions. The company is currently beginning tests on a multi-cylinder engine closely resembling a typical production engine.
This technology is the latest attempt by engine research scientists to combine the best qualities of gasoline and diesel engines. The efficiency in a diesel engine is normally at 40-45%. A gasoline engine, on the other hand, performs at around 30% under the same conditions. However, diesel engines emit too many partly combusted chemical pollutants (soot particles) and thus demand expensive exhaust-treatment technology so as to meet emission regulation standards.
Delphi’s new engine is the fruit of a multitude of technologies already applied in the most sophisticated diesel engines on the market. One of the “secrets” to burning gasoline by compressing the mixture is that you have to inject it in three short bursts at precise timings, or otherwise it’ll burn too soon, before the piston passes the tdc (top-dead-center) point. Their new technology is called gasoline-direct-injection compression ignition and will probably become a standard if they succeed in getting it on the market.
Hybrid cars could be the first to benefit from the new technology, just because it would augment their huge fuel-saving possibilities.