A friend sent me this story about the Scuderi engine (above), which has been in development for nearly ten years. It is a weird, innovative concept but shows enough promise to have enticed “nine major carmakers” to look at it.
Called a split-cycle engine, the Scuderi, placed in a Nissan Sentra sedan, “showed a 36 percent reduction in fuel consumption, the equivalent of a 54 percent improvement in miles per gallon.”
The engine uses paired cylinders, one for compression and one for ignition/exhaust. A compressed air tank stores energy and feeds the power cylinder, where fuel is added and combustion occurs. A turbocharger controls air pressure in the engine.
It’s complicated, different and impressive. Read a good summary here.
Another engine, developed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, claims to cut fuel consumption “by about 30 percent in cars and by almost 20 percent in heavy trucks.” In the car version, it involves injecting a precise mixture of gasoline and an additive into the combustion chamber, improving engine efficiency to 45 percent, compared to 30 percent for conventional gas engines. Pollutants are also reduced.
New technologies to improve gas engine efficiency have been coming thick and fast. One British study showed that over the past eight years, engine size in the small family car has shrunk 4 percent while power output has increased 12 percent. Fuel consumption is down 16 percent; CO2 emissions are down 18 percent.
Mazda just announced its impressive SKYACTIV-G 1.3 engine (right) which will power the Demio (Mazda2) in Japan but not here. With a continuously variable transmission (CVT), the car can achieve 70.5 mpg. Different measurement techniques in the U.S. won’t give us that kind of performance, but still, “the car will likely use about as little fuel as a hybrid such as the Toyota Prius–without that car’s added costs for its electric motor and batteries.”
Add to that 15 percent more torque than the current engine, which Mazda has achieved by developing a dual sequential valve timing system, direct injection, free-flow exhaust and a 14:1 compression ratio. These guys are very smart with engines, and their R&D has always been good.
Now, let them bring the new Mazda2 to the U.S.
Do you think engine-technology advances such as those mentioned above will eventually replace the current hybrid approach?