Ok, everybody’s favorite modern boogeyman, the Internal Combustion Engine, has been blamed for everything from global warming, to wars over oil, to baby booms caused by backseats in 57 Chevy’s.
There’s been a lot of pushing, and rightly so, to make the beast more efficient given gasoline prices, smog, and the looming CO2 hysteria. That time may be at hand. A new engine design could significantly improve fuel efficiency for cars and SUVs, at a fraction of the cost of today’s hybrid technology.
From an article in MIT’s Technology Review, where researchers at the Sloan Automotive Lab describe how they can dramatically boost engine output and efficiency by preventing pre-ignition, or “knock.” How they do it:
“Both turbocharging and direct injection are preexisting technologies, and neither looks particularly impressive… by combining them, and augmenting them with a novel way to use a small amount of ethanol, Cohn and his colleagues have created a design that they believe could triple the power of a test engine.”
Smaller, better, more fuel efficient, with less emissions. It all sounds promising. Of course, Popular Science Magazine used to claim in the 50’s that we’d all be driving flying cars by now, and that never happened. So lets take this with a grain of salt.
But I think this one could actually make it to market. The idea they’ve implemented actually works, so its a matter of getting automakers to adopt it. The technology will add about $1000 to the cost of the engine, but its still far less expensive than hybrid technology, and there’s no replacement or disposal problem of batteries. If technology leads the way, making the choices available and sensible, manufacturers and consumers will follow.