Blog: Dave LeggettGasoline engines set to match diesel for efficiency?

Dave Leggett | 29 October 2008

I've been hearing lately about a new breed of more efficient gasoline/petrol engines that are in development and set to, effectively, remove the efficiency gain associated with diesel. In a nutshell, it's about making combustion occur with more air and less fuel, the mixture ignited via compression (HCCI - Homegenous Charge Compression Ignition). Control systems to do things like keep temperatures in cylinders within tolerable limits have been the big technical challenges, but the boffins have been busy. 

And I've just read that these new more efficient gasoline engines could be introduced by 2012 and that manufacturers are seriously testing them now. So, you can have the efficiency of the diesel without some of the inherent drawbacks - like particulate matter, a heavy engine block and common rail injection systems that come with mind-bogglingly high operational pressures - that can also potentially do damage and cause injury (though that seems rare).

I'd be interested to know what people think. Can these new breed gasoline engines be delivered to market at the right price and will they take over from coventional gasoline direct injection systems? Will they be mass-market in light duty applications and cause diesel share to shrink from its current high-water mark in Europe (and nix any sort of prospect for major diesel growth in the US)? Will they be produced for gasoline-electric hybrids - rendering the diesel-electric hybrid effectively redundant already? Is there a downside to HCCI (besides there being yet another acronym to become familiar with)?


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