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34 Automotive Innovation

IMAGE 1.26
Turbulent jet injection (TJI).
The TJI system replaces the spark plug with a small precombustion ignition chamber that can trigger a rapid
flame jet ignition into the main combustion chamber.
Source: Mahle

Low-Temperature Combustion
Similar technology is being explored to pursue the possibility of what is called low-
temperature combustion (LTC). The idea is a gasoline-fueled engine that operates with
compression ignition like a diesel, and so burns at a much lower temperature. The goal
is to reduce the heat of combustion so that we can dramatically reduce the generation
of harmful NOx caused by excessive heat, or PM caused by excessive richness, and reap
higher fuel efficiency. Some of these aims are achieved in current production cars with
EGR, recirculating about 10% of the exhaust gas back into the combustion chamber to cool
the combustion chamber. This is a well-established technology. But a promising route for
significant further improvement is to design a gasoline engine that can capture the sort
of thermal efficiency that has long existed in diesel engines, while avoiding the emissions
challenges of diesel fuel. Because gasoline offers a much lower autoignition temperature
than diesel, this sort of design could only be possible with the precise fuel and combustion
control offered by modern fuel systems.
Homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI) is being examined as a possible
path to this sort of ultra-efficient combustion. A lean, well-mixed fuel–air charge in the
intake stroke is ignited by the heat of compression rather than a spark plug. Again, the
hope is to achieve the efficiency of a diesel engine with the emission of a gasoline engine.
With rising pressure and even mixture distributed throughout the combustion chamber,
ignition takes place as a spontaneous reaction throughout the cylinder, producing a rapid