Cambridge engineers develop diesel engine of the future
Cambridge engineers are to the fore in an anglo-US project to develop the zero emissions green diesel engines of the future.Cambridge Consultants is working as part of a group - led by US heavy machinery giant, Caterpillar - that has been awarded a £1.5m grant by the DTI's Technology Programme to develop heavy-duty diesel engines based on the HCCI (Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition) principle. Diesel engines are used in buses, trucks and other large vehicles, accounting for around a quarter of the carbon dioxide (CO2) generated by UK road transportation. In today's diesel engines, combustion takes place at high temperatures, which also generates harmful nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulates. In an HCCI engine, the fuel disperses very evenly throughout the combustion chamber as a vapour mist. This process allows it to burn extremely efficiently at a low temperature, resulting in exceptionally low emissions. But, although the HCCI combustion principle has been demonstrated, there are many design problems and to-date nobody has managed to build an engine that can sustain HCCI efficiently over the range of real-world operating conditions. The benefits of developing HCCI technology are potentially enormous. HCCI diesel engines will deliver near-zero NOx and particulate emissions, with minimal requirement for exhaust gas treatment.