This article evaluates engine efficiency as a step towards improving fuel economy and emissions performance. Diesel engines tend to be very efficient; however, they have an emissions problem. They require complex and expensive equipment to meet pollution mandates. Spark ignition gasoline engines, on the other hand, do a much better job with emissions, but they are inherently less efficient. Thus, the research team at Argonne National Laboratory has decided to look for ways to combine the best characteristics of both. This new system is more like traditional diesel combustion than spark ignition, but uses a gasoline-like fuel and an innovative approach to combustion to minimize emissions. Diesel engines tend to run lean, meaning there is more oxygen in the mix than fuel, which reduces in-cylinder average temperatures. Research shows that gasoline spark engines have fatal efficiency flaws but comply easily and relatively inexpensively with emission requirements. Diesels are more efficient, but carry a heavy penalty for emission compliance. Different research teams’ challenge is to ensure robust, reliable operation during transient operation. The new system’s torque profile is essentially the same as that of a conventional diesel, and it provides excellent performance in the powerband where most people drive.

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