Is GM on the verge of inventing a new kind of engine?

GM-hcci-engine

If GM can pull off this new bit of technology, I’ll officially recommend the company as the new definition of awesome.

It seems the General is experimenting with ways to combine the fuel efficiency of a diesel engine with the cleaner burning traits of a gas engine. It’s being called an HCCI engine, which stands for homogeneous combustion compression ignition. 

A traditional gas engine uses a spark from spark plugs to ignite the fuel. A diesel engine uses compression to accomplish that goal, essentially squeezing the diesel and air mixture until it ignites.

Until now no one has been able to create a gasoline engine that works on compression, which is more efficient because it burns the available fuel all at once rather than from a source point (the spark). To save all the other technical details, it translates into about a 15 percent jump in fuel economy. 

GM is developing the engine to run on combustion from idle to about 3,000 rpm, above which it would switch over to traditional ignition for power at highway speeds. While the HCCI engine will run like a diesel, it won’t provide the massive torque of diesel and will power only small cars. GM hopes to have the technology available within the next decade, but I wonder if by then it’ll be too little too late. 

It’s been a long time since a company has changed the way fuel is burned in an engine. While I commend GM on their innovative thinking, HCCI is the kind of technology we desperately need right now. 

Come on GM, get this thing to market in two or three years! Do that and we’ll all think you’re awesome.

How much extra would you pay for a vehicle equipped with a four-cylinder HCCI engine?

-tgriffith

4 Comments

  1. @Kevin
    Kevin-
    The technology is definitely real… we’ll see how long it takes before it’s actually production-ready though!

  2. Is this true? Seems like an April Fools joke or something! If it’s true, it seems amazing…

  3. Y’all ain’t seen nothing yet. The manufacturers have tons of technology like this that they’ve been sitting on for years simply because the economics of production in competition with conventional IC engines was prohibitive. With the conventional IC gas engine being legislated out of existence, we’ll see a lot of new techology that is perfect for smaller, more efficient vehicles.

    How much extra would I pay for high tech solutions? If everyone needs to put this kind of technology into production, the volumes should keep cost increases fairly low. Also, driving appropriately-sized vehicles should also help. What’s more wasteful than driving a 6000-lb. truck on a daily commute? If taxes, regulation and standards are applied wisely, we’ll see a revolution in vehicle ownership over the next ten years. It’s time for us to grow up as a culture and start to put away our childish things.

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