With our fossil fuel supplies and the number of production cars locked in an irreplaceable inverse proportion on exponential levels where the former continues to drop and the latter explode in what seems to be an endless traverse through a curve, less is definitely more and not just on grounds of curbing our desires. The latest trending equation of what propels our cars involves significant reduction in the size and input of our internal combustion engines, and proportional increment in their power output and performance numbers by technological advancements in the automotive sector worldwide, in the last decade.
Over the recent years, automobile manufacturers around the world, have been in constant research and application of all the possible ways of increasing the yield of fuel consumption in vehicles, and the regular method would require cutting down of the engine, in number of cylinders, and the engine displacement. However, decreasing the number of cylinders and the engine displacement also brings down the engine power output and also in some way, the entire feel and character of the vehicle in question. The engine is required to work harder, is put through a lot more stress and pain and eventually has its life reduced by a few years.
Two methods to increase efficiency
The need of the day and hour has long since been an engine that fulfils both the requirements of performance and efficiency to an optimum level – keeps the fun alive and yet doesn’t pinch your pocket with fuel expenses. Making a smaller engine that provides with performance numbers that challenge those with bigger displacement and compression ratios has been the major task at hand.
The methods employed are quite simple and yet efficient. The very first one involves the use of superchargers. Superchargers are air compressors that pump pressurized air into engines. The thought of turbochargers and superchargers generally produces images of massive engine cars built for the sole purpose of speed and performance that guzzle litres of fuel by kilometres. The latest superchargers employ advanced turbine design and reduced drag and are proving to be the focal point of fun and environment friendly driving. With the utilization of such specially crafted superchargers, it becomes possible to pump 1.5 litres of air into a 1.2 litre engine, and hence help achieve the performance numbers of a larger engine with bigger displacement, in the small sized ones.
Another important method is direct injection of gasoline into the combustion chamber inside the cylinder which provides for the cooling down of the temperature inside the cylinder by its vapourization. In supercharger and turbocharger engines, the intake temperature generally heats up because of the air being pumped into the cylinders at high pressure. Conventionally this needs to be handled by controlling the temperature through lowering the engine compression ratio.
Since gasoline engines pressurize vapour mixed with fuel and air that is then ignited and burnt off, stronger pressurization should methodically increase the combustion power. However, this increased pressure also leads to increase in the combustion temperature, that gives us abnormal combustion and engine knock.
Gasoline direct injection has a cooling effect on the insides of the combustion chamber, hence allowing the supercharger to pump in lots of air and burn off fuel in sync with keeping the temperature from going too high. This allows the engine design team to increase the compression ratio without hindrances. This very combination of a supercharger with a compatible DI mechanism allowed the likes of Nissan, Volkswagen, and others to enhance both the performance and the mileage of their recent models.
Although the alternative fuel technologies, hybrids and electric vehicles promise a great future for the environment and those concerned with it, their immediate success is hindered by their basic requirements of great purchase expenses and major upgrades in the urban infrastructure. It is the now recently developed countries that would be the focus of all automotive manufacturers in the coming years and as of now, gasoline will still be going strong.
Our environment and its consistently depleting condition cannot be replenished or even relieved of its agony by a margin by just the use of hybrid vehicles and electric ones. It is also vital that the existing technology be constantly upgraded to consume less and produce more.