So far as we know, oil is a finite resource. But it is still the most widely used fuel for transportation right now, and likely will be for the near future. It could be twenty-five years or more before alternative fuel vehicles make up a majority of the new car market. So until then, we are stuck with petrol engines. But that doesn’t mean they won’t get better.
A California-based company called Transonic claims that its fuel injection system increases fuel efficiency by 75% while cutting emissions in half. No electric motors, no gimmicks… just a supercritical injection process. Which is what, exactly?
The supercritical injection process essentially heats a supercritical fluid to about 800 degrees F, taking it to a state in between a gas and liquid. This nullifies the droplets from a standard fuel injector. The picture above is a view inside an engine cylinder using this process. The process supposedly makes it much easier for the superheated gas to mix with the air, vastly improving fuel efficiency. In their own tests, Transonic claims that a 3,200 pound car managed to get 98 mpg while driving steadily at 50 mph. If true, that would be, well, amazing. Furthermore, the emissions from the car are half those demanded by the European emissions standards that come into effect in 2012.
I say if because it sounds just a bit too good to be true. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t. Imagine if 100 mpg became the new standard? You could get halfway across the US on a single tank. It would also scale back demand for oil by a large margin. On the flip side, it could delay or even kill electric cars for decades if fuel mileage suddenly leaps like that. But the world might still be better off for it, at least in the short term.
I’m getting ahead of myself though. Transonic says it is getting ready to test a fleet of up to 100 cars with its technology, and it is in the process of talking to two automakers interested in the technology. They want to bring their system to market by 2014… not that far away.
It would be really nice to get 100 mpg. Even if gas cost $7/gallon, at 1500 miles to a tank, I don’t think there would be many complainers.
So which would you rather have? An electric car, or a conventional car that gets 100 mpg?