If you ever had a diesel car, you know that it’s more fuel efficient than the gasoline counterpart. That’s because diesel engines use compression to ignite the fuel, and gasoline engines use a spark to do that. Practically, diesel engines could work without any electricity – at all.
General Motors, in its desperate search for new markets and viable technologies, has introduced a new concept: the HCCI engine (Homogenous Charge Compression Ignition), that uses the same old diesel burning principle to fire gasoline without a spark. They say it could offer a 15% reduction in gasoline consumption, if combined with other advanced technologies. Burning gasoline this way would reduce heat energy lost during the combustion process.
The HCCI engine practically gives the efficiency of a diesel engine and the cleanliness of burning gasoline (compared to diesel). In addition, burning diesel requires complicated and expensive exhaust filtering systems, which gasoline powered ones don’t need.
GM says they will have the engine finished for commercialization in less than 10 years, but don’t give any specific details as to when exactly this will happen. Slowly but surely, the HCCI engine will help power Volt and the other hybrid projects branded by General Motors. In fact, they already equipped an Opel Vectra and a Saturn Aura with HCCI. Let’s hope they ease the transition to full electric cars, although generally, when you want to quit smoking, you quit suddenly, otherwise you’ll find all kinds of excuses not to do it.