What is the future of the internal combustion engine?

With tougher emissions standards and the rise of electric powertrains, it may seem like the days of the internal combustion engine are numbered. Corn Engineering explained Host Jason Fenske believes internal combustion will continue with new technologies.

Fenske is quite optimistic about the longevity of the internal combustion engine, both because of the inherent energy density advantage of gasoline over batteries, and because of efficiency-enhancing technologies. In this video, he takes a closer look at some of these technologies.

One option is Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI). An HCCI engine burns gasoline, but uses compression ignition, like a diesel engine, rather than a spark plug. In theory, this provides the efficiency of a diesel without the soot and the high levels of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. However, it requires much finer control of the intake temperature, as well as the timing of ignition.

Ferrari 488 GT modified

The next option is pre-mixed charge compression ignition (PCCI). Fenske described it as a “middle ground” between the compression ignition of the diesel engine and the HCCI, as it injects fuel early to let it mix with the air in the combustion chamber, then injects more fuel into the combustion chamber. late. This offers more control over ignition timing than the HCCI, but can also create pockets of unburned hydrocarbon by-product which is bad for emissions. PCCI engines also have a fairly narrow operating range, with a high potential for knocking at full throttle, Fenske said.

Finally, we have the Controlled Responsiveness Compression Ignition (RCCI). This uses two fuels: a low reactive fuel (like gasoline) which is injected into the port and a high reactive fuel (like diesel) which is injected directly. “Reactivity” refers to the tendency of a fuel to ignite under compression. This method leads to big efficiency gains, but still with fairly high emissions, Fenske said. The complexity of using two fuels could also make it a non-starter commercially.

These alternative internal combustion engine designs may not be ready for prime time, but automakers are looking to squeeze every ounce of efficiency out of today’s gasoline engines by using more mature technologies like direct injection. Fenske has also covered another possible future internal combustion technology – input ignition – in another video, which is also worth checking out.

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