A California-based startup company says it has developed an improved version of the internal combustion engine that boosts gas mileage by more than 50 percent and enabled a prototype vehicle to get 64 miles per gallon on the highway in recent test drives.
Transonic Combustion, backed by Vinod Khosla and other venture capitalists, says it has invented a new fuel injection system that heats and pressurizes gasoline before injecting it into the combustion chamber, placing the fuel in a “supercritical” state that allows for clean and fast combustion.
Once the fuel is injected into the piston, the heat and pressure enable the fuel to combust without a spark. Ignition also can be timed to occur just when the piston reaches its optimal point, further improving fuel efficiency.
Transonic said that it plans to build its first factory in 2013 and begin producing cars in 2014.
One key question is what impact the increased temperature and pressure of the gasoline will have on the life expectancy of an engine.
William Green, a professor of chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said Transonic’s new engine is one of many being developed to significantly boost the fuel efficiency of engines.
“It’s a time of renaissance for internal combustion engines,” said Green.
Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.