Transonic Combustion’s Fuel Injection System Might See Daylight
Various replacement designs have been suggested for the internal combustion engine [ICE], and even though they promise extraordinary fuel economy, they haven’t seen production beyond their prototypes. Transonic Combustion, a start-up company about six years old, has just gotten an additional $32 million in funding so their ICE modification that might actually see the market, and realize a 50% increase in efficiency.
What’s different about Transonic’s ICE design? According to Transonic, one of the inefficiencies in the gasoline-powered ICE is the ignition system, which their design does away with. Instead, they’ve explored the compression-ignition system, which relies on the heat of compression instead of a spark, found only in diesel engines.
Mainstream manufacturers, such as Toyota and General Motors, have implemented direct injection systems, that run as high as 800 psi, which makes for a better fuel stratification, and thus better ignition, power, and fuel economy. Transonic’s fuel injection system goes a little bit further, and super-heats the fuel just shy of its flashpoint. On direct injection into the cylinder, the superheated and pressurized fuel ignites under the added heat of compression, driving the piston downwards.
Compression ignition is inherently more efficient, because all of the fuel ignites instantaneously, instead of a flame front originating at the spark plug, which wastes precious milliseconds and the full force of the ignition. In 2010, Transonic’s prototype vehicle was tested at 64 mpg, claiming a 50% increase in fuel efficiency.
One of the main efficiency problems with current ICE technology is the throttle body, which controls the air coming into the engine. At idle and cruising speeds, the engine is working harder than it needs to. Running Transonic’s engine at 50 mph with the throttle wide open allows the engine speed to be governed by the injection system. During testing, the prototype vehicle was getting 98 mpg by running lean air/fuel ratio and keeping the throttle open.
Another benefit, aside from economy, is that an ICE featuring Transonic’s new injection system can adapt to any fuel, gasoline, diesel, even biofuels. Transonic’s recent $32 million infusion various venture capitalists will help to finish the research and drive the cost down to current injection-ssytem levels. A production release is expected by 2014