A startup based in CA called Transonic Combustion has developed a fuel-injection system it says can improve the efficiency of gasoline engines by more than 50 percent. What this means practically is that a vehicle equipped with the technology gets 64 miles per gallon in highway driving, which is in fact far better than so-called greener hybrid cars (like Toyota Prius) which gives 48 miles per gallon. Also, hybrid cars are cost several times more than the test vehicle developed by Transonic.
What makes the new Injection system Better?
The key is in heating and pressurizing gasoline before injecting it into the combustion. The more intuitively you do it, better combustion you can yield, which in turn decreases the amount of fuel needed to propel a vehicle. The company treats the gasoline(petrol) with a catalyst that “activates” it, partially oxidizing it to enhance combustion.
Transonic’s injection system varies from direct injection in two ways: it uses supercritical fluids and doesn’t require a spark to ignite the fuel, something which totally new in petrol engines. The supercritical fluid mixes quickly with air when it’s injected into the cylinder.
Once the fuel is injected into the piston, the heat and pressure are enough to cause the fuel to combust without a spark (similar to what happens in diesel engines). Ignition can be timed to happen just when the piston is reaching the optimal point, so it can convert as much of the energy in the gasoline into mechanical movement as possible, without wasting energy by heating up the combustion chamber walls, as happens in conventional technologies. In order to make it possible, Transonic has developed proprietary software that lets the system adjust the injection precisely depending on the load put on the engine. Other Improvements include smaller engines boosted with turbocharging, improved valve timing, and direct injection, in which fuel is injected directly into the combustion chamber rather than into an adjacent port.
The aim is to increase the efficiency of existing combustion engines and not make them costly. Transonic’s approach is “a promising way to improve on conventional direct injection.”
Mike Rocke, Transonic’s vice president of business dev, says that at a steady cruising speed of 50 miles per hour, the test car gets 98 miles per gallon.
The company has recently demonstrated the technology in its own test engine, and says it is currently testing it with three automakers. The company, is supported by venture-capital investments from Venrock and Khosla Ventures. They have plans to manufacture its system itself, rather than licensing the technology, first factory in 2013followed by production of cars by 2014.
Possibly we will have lots of EVs by that time. We’ve to wait and see which approach works best for us.