Working to improve the efficiency of gasoline engines, researchers at MIT have demonstrated technology that could enable ordinary spark-ignition engines to shift into a spark-free mode. Crucially, the Homogenous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI) creates simultaneous ignition throughout the combustion chamber, resulting in decreased soot and nitrogen pollution. A graphic illustrating how the combustion works follows the jump.
Since HCCI is fickle, only working within an optimum temperature range and with fuel of the correct octane, it's not suitable for universal use in gasoline engines. The team at MIT have developed temperature sensors that can tell the engine when HCCI mode will work. Only capable of saving a few miles per gallon of fuel per engine, the technology could nevertheless have a wide reaching impact if implemented throughout the car industry.
Photo credit: Sharkey
Illustration credit: MIT