The world may be on the cusp of all electric or fuel cell powered vehicles, but in the meantime, the internal combustion engine remains the primary source of power for our cars and trucks. If you remember the dreadful vehicles unleashed upon the public after the first Arab oil embargo back in the 70’s, you know that modern electronics have saved the ICE from an early grave. Today’s engines create more power from less displacement, and with fewer emissions, than anyone ever thought possible.
But still, the industry can do better. Recently, all of Japan’s major engine producers formed an alliance (AICE) to create gasoline and diesel engines for the future that are 30% more efficient. The goal is to achieve a thermal efficiency of 50% in both types of engines by the year 2020, with Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, Subaru, Suzuki, and Mitsubishi all in on the effort.
The diesel research will concentrate on EGR and particulate filtration systems. That’s good news for people in the US, which has some of the toughest diesel emissions standards in the world. Those regulations boost the price of diesel powered vehicles sold here considerably. Perhaps this collaboration will help make diesel powered cars more price competitive in America. For gasoline engines, the project will explore ways to get more complete combustion and reduce harmful engine knock. Every automaker will bring their technology and research to the table, like Mazda’s SkyActiv engines and Toyota’s diesel experience.
The project will be funded 50% by the consortium members, and 50% by the Japanese government and is a response to the increasing collaboration recently by European car companies. There’s been no such move among the trio of American automakers though.
It may be that in future, car buyers will have only a limited variety of engines to pick from, regardless of where their new car is made. But when that day arrives., those engines will represent the pinnacle of thermodynamic efficiency. For those of us who use our cars for ordinary daily tasks, and have to pay for our own gas or diesel fuel, that’s a future worth looking forward to.
Source: The Truth About Cars