While the world awaits Volkswagen’s fix for its diesel-cheating scandal, researchers at the University of Wisconsin Madison have developed an engine considerably more efficient than diesel, but without diesel’s significant emissions problems.
The reactivity controlled compression ignition engine, according to Prof. Rolf Reitz, achieves efficiency within one per cent of the theoretical maximum of 60 per cent for internal combustions engines, compared with diesel’s approximate 40 per cent efficiency.
The engine uses both diesel and gasoline: a typical gasoline-air mixture is injected into the cylinder, and near the top of the compression stroke, a small amount of diesel, which aerates to fill the available space, is injected. The remaining compression stroke ignites the diesel, which completely ignites the gasoline.
The prototype runs like a locomotive in a modified Ford Escape: the engine powers a generator that powers an electric motor.
The challenge now is to make it operate over a wide range of engine conditions so it can run like a conventional engine.