Transonic's fuel injection system different from a direct injection is that it uses supercritical fluids and requires no spark to ignite the fuel
(PhysOrg.com) -- The best hybrid cars of today can only deliver about 48 miles per gallon. By using this newly developed fuel injection system a test vehicle was measured at achieving 64 miles per gallon in highway driving. This is approximately a 50% increase in fuel efficiency in a gasoline engine.
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The fuel injection system was developed by a startup company Transonic Combustion and their goal is to increase fuel efficiency of existing gasoline engines. The cost for this ultra-efficient system would be as much as high-end fuel injection systems currently on the market today.
By heating and pressurizing gasoline before injecting it into the combustion chamber places it into a supercritical state that allows for very fast and clean combustion. This in turn decreases the amount of fuel needed to run the vehicle. The gasoline is also treated with a catalyst to further enhance combustion.
What makes Transonic's fuel injection system different from a direct injection is that it uses supercritical fluids and requires no spark to ignite the fuel. The supercritical fluid mixes quickly with air when it's injected into the cylinder. The heat and pressure, in the cylinder, alone is enough to cause the fuel to combust without a spark.
Ignition timing happens just when the piston reaches the optimal point, so that the maximum amount of energy is converted into mechanical movement of the engine.
Proprietary software has also been developed by Transonic Combustion that allows the system to adjust the fuel injection precisely depending on engine load.
Transonic Combustion is currently testing their new fuel injection system with three automakers. One key concern is the life of the engine when it’s subject to high pressures and temperatures. The company plans to manufacture the system themselves and not license the technology. Transonic Combustion plans to build its first factory in 2013, and place the technology into production cars by 2014
What Is TSCiTM Technology
TSCiTM is a revolutionary combustion system enabled by injecting supercritical fuel directly into the combustion chamber. Direct injection of fuel in the supercritical state enables significant fuel efficiency improvements to be achieved. For example, supercritical injection enables cost-effective compression ignition of gasoline in engines with a conventional architecture. This is described as “Injection Ignition”, and it results in efficiencies that are equal to or better than today’s Diesel engines. TSCi™ also enables new combustion strategies to help OEM’s achieve future reductions in emissions levels. So far, a number of top automotive and engine manufacturers have engaged Transonic and are advancing their powertrain plans to incorporate TSCiTM technology.
Transonic Combustion Technology - TSCiTM Fuel Injection
Utilizing supercritical fuel injection to achieve injection-ignition, the TSCiTM combustion system achieves high thermal and combustion efficiency when operating with high compression ratio gasoline engines.
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The Fundamental Problem
The spark ignited (SI) gasoline engine is limited in performance and fuel efficiency by three fundamental factors: 1) throttling which results in pumping losses as well as reduced cycle pressures and temperatures; 2) inherently slow heat release curve as a result of a long delay period and a modest burn rate; resulting in increased heat losses and low cycle efficiency; 3) compression ratio limited by fuel quality.
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Benefits of TSCiTM Technology
The characteristics of TSCiTM address all of the issues identified as limiting the efficiency of the gasoline engine; it is capable of operating over a wide range of air/fuel ratios and so does not require a throttle for load control. TSCiTM has inherently short combustion delay and a fast combustion that combine in heat release phasing for optimal efficiency. TSCiTM can be operated at an optimal compression ratio since it is not dependent on high octane gasoline.
Why TSCiTM Technology
Powertrain technologies have expanded to include not only direct propulsion, but also parallel and series hybrids, and plug-in electrics with range-extending internal combustion driven generators. Internal combustion is at the core of all of these, and will continue to be the prime powertrain technology well into the foreseeable future. From a refinery output standpoint, it is impractical to move our entire vehicle fleet to Diesel fuel. Therefore, major efficiency gains need to occur with gasoline fueled engines to meet the future’s ever more stringent fuel economy and emissions requirements. TSCiTM addresses the problem of spark ignited gasoline internal combustion being less efficient than compression ignition of Diesel.
Transonic Combustion, based in Camarillo, CA, has developed a gasoline fuel injection system that can improve the efficiency of gasoline engines by 50 to 75 percent, beating the fuel economy of hybrid vehicles. A test vehicle the size and weight of a Toyota Prius (but without hybrid propulsion) showed 64 miles per gallon for highway driving. The company says the system can work with existing engines, and costs about as much as existing high-end fuel injection.
Transonic Combustion uses supercritical-state fuel to radically shift the technological benefits of the automotive internal combustion engine This technology was featured at the ARPA-E Innovation summit and has DOE funding.
TSCi Fuel Injection achieves lean combustion and super efficiency by running gasoline, diesel, and advanced bio-renewable fuels on modern diesel engine architectures. Supercritical fluids have unusual physical properties that Transonic is harnessing for internal combustion engine efficiency. Supercritical fuel injection facilitates short ignition delay and fast combustion, precisely controls the combustion that minimizes crevice burn and partial combustion near the cylinder walls, and prevents droplet diffusion burn. Our engine control software facilitates extremely fast combustion, enabled by advanced microprocessing technology. Our injection system can also be supplemented by advanced thermal management, exhaust gas recovery, electronic valves, and advanced combustion chamber geometries.
Fuel efficiency improvements enabled by advanced combustion technologies of 50% or more for automotive engines (relative to spark-ignition engines dominating the road today in the U.S.) and 25% or more for heavy-duty truck engines (relative to today’s diesel truck engines) are possible in the next 10 to 15 years
Our fuel system efficiently supports engine operation over the full range of conditions – from stoichiometric air-to-fuel ratios at full power to lean 80:1 air-to-fuel ratios at cruise, with engine-out NOx at just 50% of comparable standard engines. Our real-time programmable control of combustion heat release results in dramatically increased efficiency.
Along with operating on gasoline, our technology can efficiently utilize fuels based on their chemical heat capacity independent of octane or cetane ratings. Thus, economical, highly functional mixtures of renewable plant products can be utilized which are not practical in either conventional spark or compression ignition engines. In dynamometer testing on current engine architectures, our technology has successfully run on gasoline, diesel, biodiesel, heptane, ethanol, and vegetable oil. Recently our engineers achieved seamless operation alternating between several different fuels on one of our customer’s engines in our Camarillo test facilities.
Supercritical Fuel Injection
Automotive Engineering International Feature - Supercritical fuel injection and combustion
Recent work by Mike Cheiky, a physicist and serial inventor/entrepreneur, is focusing on raising not only the fuel mixture’s pressure but also its temperature.
Cheiky's aim, in fact, is to generate a little-known, intermediate state of matter—a so-called supercritical (SC) fluid—which he and his co-workers at Camarillo, CA-based Transonic Combustion believe could markedly increase the fuel efficiency of next-generation power plants while reducing their exhaust emissions.
Transonic’s proprietary TSCi fuel-injection systems do not produce fuel droplets as conventional fuel delivery units do, according to Mike Rocke, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development. The supercritical condition of the fuel injected into a cylinder by a TSCi system means that the fuel mixes rapidly with the intake air which enables better control of the location and timing of the combustion process.
The novel SC injection systems, which Rocke calls “almost drop-in” units, include “a GDI-type,” common-rail system that incorporates a metal-oxide catalyst that breaks fuel molecules down into simpler hydrocarbon chains, and a precision, high-speed (piezoelectric) injector whose resistance-heated pin places the fuel in a supercritical state as it enters the cylinder.
Company engineers have doubled the fuel efficiency numbers in dynamometer tests of gas engines fitted with the company’s prototype SC fuel-injection systems, Rocke said. A modified gasoline engine installed in a 3200-lb (1451-kg) test vehicle, for example, is getting 98 mpg (41.6 km/L) when running at a steady 50 mph (80 km/h) in the lab.
The 48-employee firm is finalizing a development engine for a test fleet of from 10 to 100 vehicles, while trying to find a partner with whom to manufacture and market TSCi systems by 2014.
“A supercritical fluid is basically a fourth state of matter that’s part way between a gas and liquid,” said Michael Frick, Vice President for Engineering. A substance goes supercritical when it is heated beyond a certain thermodynamic critical point so that it refuses to liquefy no matter how much pressure is applied.
SC fluids have unique properties. For a start, their density is midway between those of a liquid and gas, about half to 60% that of the liquid. On the other hand, they also feature the molecular diffusion rates of a gas and so can dissolve substances that are usually tough to place in solution.
To minimize friction losses, the Transonic engineers have steadily reduced the compression of their test engines to between 20:1 and 16:1, with the possibility of 13:1 for gasoline engines.
Thus far 3 patents (#7444230, #7546826, #7657363) have been issued to Transonic from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office related to our technology, with another 14 patents pending.
Patent 7444230 - Fuel injector having algorithm controlled look-ahead timing for injector
The present invention provides an injector-ignition fuel injection system for an internal combustion engine, comprising an ECU controlling a heated catalyzed fuel injector for heating and catalyzing a next fuel charge, wherein the ECU uses a one firing cycle look-ahead algorithm for controlling...
This Fuel-Injection System Might Increase Fuel Efficiency By Up To 50%
The most fuel efficient hybrid for sale in the US gets 51 MPG, but a startup called Transonic Combustion claims they can improve that. They claim their fuel-injection system will get 64 MPG.
Transonic's fuel-injection system is supposedly better because it "uses supercritical fluids and requires no spark to ignite the fuel. The supercritical fluid is mixed with air before injected into the cylinder. The heat and pressure, in the cylinder, alone is enough to cause the fuel to combust without a spark." That spark-free ignition process along with some proprietary software makes this particular fuel-injection system different from direct injection systems and supposedly helps make it so ultra-efficient.
Transonic says that they hope to place the technology in production cars by 2014, but I really just want to see the data from their initial test, because this is an almost bold claim for mainstream electric hybrids.