Delphi's chief engineer for engine management systems has told just-auto that that a new low-temperature combustion concept called Gasoline Direct Compression Ignition (GDCI) could eventually yield fuel economy savings of up to 35%.

Delphi is leading a project that is partly funded by the US Department of Energy to investigate the feasibility of this new technology. Hyundai is also a partner.

In a GDCI engine fuel is ignited by compression rather than by spark, similar to GDi homogeneous charge compression ignition. Delphi claims the new concept offers the potential for diesel-like efficiency while maintaining very low emissions. The new combustion technology is enabled by Delphi's advanced variable valve actuation and GDi technologies.

"GDCI uses precise gasoline injection to enable well-timed and controlled compression ignition for high efficiency with low combustion noise," says Harry Husted, Delphi's chief engineer for engine management systems.

One of the benefits Delphi sees in its approach is that the innovation exists within the auto industry's current powertrain technology framework. "This engine is conventional multi-cylinder engine runs with conventional types of parts. What we're doing is improving efficiency. There are some revolutionary elements, but we're innovating within a framework that the industry is very comfortable with," Husted maintains.

"And that's why we think adoption is possible can happen within a reasonable time-frame. It's a four-cylinder cast block, a conventional crankshaft and the whole industry is capitalised to make those. This engine delivers much improved economy on pump gasoline [87 octane]."

Husted believes that GDCI engines could make it to market by the early part of the next decade. However, there is more testing and development work ahead. "It runs like a diesel on regular gasoline and we're following where the thermodynamics take us," Husted added.

"Fuel economy gains of up to 35% are possible, but there's work to do on the exhaust emissions side because this engine burns very lean."

See also: Blog: Delphi visit