The internal combustion engine hasn’t seen any major innovations in quite some time. But that could be all about to change…
Given the extensive change in global weather patterns, it’s no secret that the automotive industry is under huge pressure to comply with ever-stricter emissions standards. Not only do carmakers have to reduce the level of pollutants, but also improve fuel economy at the same time. Needless to say, the challenge is a massive one. The technologies thus far introduced – turbocharging, direct injection, etc. – are already being stretched to their limits. What the industry needs is a proper breakthrough, and it appears that Infiniti may have actually found just that.
Infiniti has announced that they’ll be showcasing a new, production ready, variable compression ratio turbocharged petrol engine – called VC-T – at the Paris motor show in September. Essentially, the new engine – which has been under development with parent company Nissan for two decades now – allows the engine management system to vary the compression ratio of the engine between 8:1 and 14:1 using a clever actuator arm that links to a control shaft. This, paired with the standard turbocharging, has dual advantages – at high compression it allows the engine to run more efficiently, while at lower compression it has increased performance over a standard engine. As a result of which, according to Infiniti, it provides significant improvements in the fuel efficiency of the engine. The company also claims that the VC-T unit is lighter than a standard unit, which leads to further benefits.
Essentially, the significance of this new-fangled technology boils down to a simple fact – with the tightrope around emissions and fuel consumption getting tighter by the day, a technology like this, if proven effective and reliable, could extend the life of the internal combustion engine by several decades.
Needless to say, the petrolheads amongst us are waiting with bated breath to see if this technological revolution can provide the next set of fire-breathing, yet efficient engines, for us to enjoy.
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