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Mazda Creates The Holy Grail Of Gasoline Engines - HCCI

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Winston

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We'll see... recall their rotary engine.

The Way Is Led By.... MAZDA?
2017-08-19 by Karl Denninger

Mazda has announced that it has mastered and will produce HCCI gasoline engines, dubbed SkyActiv-X, for their 2019 vehicles.

This has been attempted by car manufacturers for some 30 years, yet tiny Mazda, not Honda, not Chevy, not Ford -- has apparently finally done it.

The value of this breakthrough cannot be overstated.

If it works to anywhere near its promise this breakthrough will utterly destroy the EV industry -- including Tesla -- for light passenger vehicles.

Mazda knows what it has as well -- it has announced that it has no intention of selling these engines to any other vehicle makers.

Let's be clear: This engine and the vehicles it will be deployed in will utterly decimate the EV industry. The only remaining argument for EVs will be political, not economic or energy-related. I note that gasoline can be produced from any carbon source desired, which means it's an infinitely-renewable fuel and it has zero range issues since the tank can be refilled in a couple of minutes. The infrastructure to refuel a gasoline vehicle not only exists everywhere there are literally no places within the United States where you are more than a quarter-tank away from another fueling station on any road you choose to drive.

This will not be true for EVs for decades, if ever.

Further, battery-powered vehicles suffer from an inherent physical infirmity that cannot be overcome -- the reactants for their energy production must all be carried inside the case of the battery. An ICE, on the other hand, obtains one of its reactants from the atmosphere -- oxygen -- and thus it will always have a massive size and mass advantage.

This in turn means the EV always loses in the total energy budget (from source to the wheels) calculation and it always will because the more mass you must accelerate the more energy is required. Since you must carry the reactant and product mass with you in a battery all the time you therefore must lose in this regard.

We do not use petrol for fuel because we're pigs -- we do it because nobody can get 114,000 BTUs into a one-gallon liquid container via any other means than liquid hydrocarbons. To put it more-succinctly, one gallon of gasoline is equivalent to ~33 kilowatt-hours of electrical energy; an "80 kWh" battery, assuming you can use all of it (you can't; depth-of-discharge limits range from 50-85% without damaging the pack) has less than two gallons of gasoline in energy contained in it at full charge and it not only massively outweighs the 12lbs of gasoline (by 100x!) it also consumes many times the physical space.

These are physical laws; they cannot be violated by political decree.

Diesel engines have, under heavier and heavier constraint on both particulate and NOx emissions, been forced to turn to expensive, efficiency-robbing and complex exhaust treatment systems. These systems make the economic argument for current light-duty diesels impossible.

This problem does not apply to HCCI gasoline engines; traditional catalytic converters with common closed-loop fuel control, as has been available and in-use now for close to 20 years, is sufficient to meet those requirements.

What this means is that 50mpg highway-mileage mid and full-size sedans are now scheduled for production. A "light" hybrid that can recapture braking energy and use it in city driving (a huge amount of the energy lost in city driving, occurring at relatively low speeds where air resistance is not a major factor, is from braking) will make that sort of mileage possible in the city as well, but whether the additional cost will be worth it is another question -- I suspect the answer is "no."

I note that my current Mazda "6" can break 40mpg on the highway if I keep the speed at or under 65mph (and I have proved it on multiple tanks in the real world) so reaching 50mpg is pretty-much right up the middle in terms of expectations.

I will finally note that in over 110,000 miles of operation to date my current SkyActiv Mazda 6 has required exactly zero in terms of maintenance input other than routine oil and filter changes, plus tires and one set of brake pads. In other words the argument that the EV will "win" on service costs is flat-out bunk and I have no crazy-expensive battery pack to worry about either.

Put it all together and the bottom line is this: It's coming folks.

You see, this won't be a $30, $40 or $50,000 car -- base models should be right around $20,000 -- with a cost-per-mile of operation nearing if not at the lowest among vehicles on the road today. Oh, and reports are that it has forced induction via a supercharger and as such the engine both has a higher peak output than the current SkyActiv engines for a given displacement and materially-superior torque as well.

What this means is that there is neither an economic or "green" argument for EVs compared against a vehicle powered by this technology.

Bye-bye Tesla...

Homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homogeneous_charge_compression_ignition

Advantages

Since HCCI engines are fuel-lean, they can operate at diesel-like compression ratios (>15), thus achieving 30% higher efficiencies than conventional SI gasoline engines.
Homogeneous mixing of fuel and air leads to cleaner combustion and lower emissions. Because peak temperatures are significantly lower than in typical SI engines, NOx levels are almost negligible. Additionally, the technique does not produce soot.
HCCI engines can operate on gasoline, diesel fuel, and most alternative fuels.
HCCI avoids throttle losses, which further improves efficiency.

Disadvantages

Achieving cold start capability.
High heat release and pressure rise rates contribute to engine wear.
Autoignition is difficult to control, unlike the ignition event in SI and diesel engines, which are controlled by spark plugs and in-cylinder fuel injectors, respectively.
HCCI engines have a small power range, constrained at low loads by lean flammability limits and high loads by in-cylinder pressure restrictions.
Carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrocarbon (HC) pre-catalyst emissions are higher than a typical spark ignition engine, caused by incomplete oxidation (due to the rapid combustion event and low in-cylinder temperatures) and trapped crevice gases, respectively.



[video=youtube;9KhzMGbQXmY]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KhzMGbQXmY[/video]
 

Flyfalcons

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We'll see... recall their rotary engine.

The Way Is Led By.... MAZDA?
2017-08-19 by Karl Denninger



The value of this breakthrough cannot be overstated.
Yet, the author still found a way to.
 

dhbarr

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Bleargh, can't stand cheerleading articles.
 

markkoelsch

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Winston, the proof will be in the pudding, so to speak. I believe the engine has potential, but you are overselling it. Until it shows up on the market and works as advertised I consider it hype.
 

manixFan

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I think both the OP and the author misread the market for cars. The vast majority of car buyers don't care about fuel economy, period. All you have to do is to simply look at what cars are selling today - light trucks and SUVs are killing the passenger car market. It sounds more like the author of the article has an ax to grind against Tesla.

Also if Mazda does not sell it to other makers and no one else can duplicate their engine there is no way they can make enough cars to displace all the other makers. Tesla sells cars for reasons other than they are EV vehicles, especially their safety and self-driving capabilities. And even Mazda admits EV cars are the future:

""We think it is an imperative and fundamental job for us to pursue the ideal internal combustion engine," Mazda R&D head Kiyoshi Fujiwara told reporters in Japan last week. "Electrification is necessary but,” he added, “the internal combustion engine should come first."

So it doesn't sound like even Mazda thinks this engine will completely displace EV vehicles.

It will be great if it works out and there is another advance in reduced emissions. But to claim it will destroy the market for EV vehicles is pure hyperbole.


Tony
 
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ttabbal

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I don't understand why some people think a vehicle is useless if it's not able to go coast to coast with no more than 5 minute stops. The vast majority of vehicles are simply not used that way. Occasionally, perhaps, but not often. And for many people, it would be cheaper to rent a gas car for those trips.

For commute vehicles, EVs are great. To/from work, charge at one or both ends as desired. Fewer moving parts, lower maintenance costs, lower per mile costs in most cases. They aren't perfect and neither are gas burners. They all have a place depending on what you want to do.

I'm all for advances in any technology, so I wish them well. It's a bit premature to write off every other propulsion system though.
 

BEC

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As one who has owned and loved Wankel-powered Mazda (and neither of them were Rx-7s or Rx-8s) the whole "recall their rotary engine" thing comment, apparently meant to be disparaging, is obviously not borne of actual experience.

Don't underestimate what they (Mazda) can do. But I do agree that the article seems to be a bit of hyperbole - the writer obviously hasn't spent much time in the American southwest either with his comment about being 1/4 tank of gas away from fuel anywhere in the country.

I currently own three Mazdas (though no rotaries anymore - *sigh*) and am very pleased with the Skyactive-G Mazda 3 which is our current long-range car. Two kids drive the other two Mazdas - both Protégés.

That said, for the first time in years we have something other than a Mazda because our "around town" car is a Kia Soul EV. We've had it for just short of a year - put a little over 10000 miles on it - and I can't see a time in the future that we won't have an EV. It's just too easy - no maintenance - and the thing is just a kick to drive.

But we will also always have to have an ICE vehicle as well - the trip we took today from south of Seattle to Madras, Oregon (for eclipse watching tomorrow) would have been difficult to do in an EV, even a Tesla S, once we got away from the larger metro areas. Now if there is EV fast charging infrastructure that would allow us to go anywhere (even the Southwest) with half-hour charging breaks to get out and stretch our aging legs every three or four hours, then we might be able to go all EV. That's a ways off.....

I will be watching this develop, that's for sure.
 

Nathan

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I have two Porsches and a F350 dually. Fuel economy is not a priority.

I used to have a Wankel engine '93 Mazda RX7 Turbo. I didn't like it. It made almost no torque below 3000 rpm and sounded like a vacuum cleaner.
 

Woody's Workshop

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What most people don't know is Mazda and Ford are like Brother and Sister.
Ever see a Ford Ranger next to a Mazda pickup?
Not much difference except the badging and trim.
Rangers manual Trany's have always been badged Mazda.
Mazda dropped their PU when Ford dropped the Ranger.
 

BEC

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What most people don't know is Mazda and Ford are like Brother and Sister.
This info is out of date. Ford sold its stake in Mazda, first taken in the early seventies so Ford could get their hands on the Wankel, during the Mulally administration. No more Ford/Mazda twins. There were others - Ford Probe/Mazda MX-6 (which was a Mazda), Ford Escape/Mazda Tribute (which was a Ford), Mercury Tracer was a Mazda 323 built in Mexico, besides the pickups including the Ranger/later B-series twins and the earlier Ford Courier pickup which was an earlier Mazda.

B-series pickups between the demise of the Courier and the switch over to rebadged Rangers were quite rugged and reliable......
 

mccordmw

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What will interest me is what this will do to the price of EV cars. If a good fuel economy HCCI car becomes common with a great price point, it will hopefully drive down the price on EV cars. I'd be tempted by the new Honda EV, but its 89 miles per charge sucks. I like the Tesla's range, but the price sucks.
 

Woody's Workshop

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Horses and Mules...Free Fertilizer...Don't go fast...passes every gas station...built in 4x4 mode...lawn mower no longer needed.
Can also fit the soccer mom's needs with a wagon attachment. Life expectancy longer than an average vehicle. Shoes are cheaper than tires, brakes and shocks.
Will never rust, but may slow down with arthritis. Don't need bridges, totally amphibious.
 

Winston

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Winston, the proof will be in the pudding, so to speak. I believe the engine has potential, but you are overselling it. Until it shows up on the market and works as advertised I consider it hype.
NO, -I- am not overselling it. Note the first sentence in my original post.
 

TheTellurian

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A lot of sensationalism in Denninger's post. Mazda's new engine will get 50 MPG a 20 % increase. Good for Mazda. They might catch up to my fourth generation Prius which is currently getting over 50. So what is his point? Hyperbole and preemptive marketing.


Richard
 

Peartree

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A lot of sensationalism in Denninger's post. Mazda's new engine will get 50 MPG a 20 % increase. Good for Mazda. They might catch up to my fourth generation Prius which is currently getting over 50. So what is his point? Hyperbole and preemptive marketing.


Richard
I'm no expert, but "the point" would be that they can get 50 mpg without all the batteries and jazz required in a hybrid. That means, that although it might not be 50 mpg, they can still get a 20 percent increase in fuel economy on every model in the lineup including SUV's and light trucks. At this point, Ford is playing with its all aluminum pickup truck in order to get a 2 to 4 mpg increase in efficiency. Imagine being able to produce a standard steel pickup truck that gets 40 mpg. That would be a really big deal. Matching a compact, under-powered, hybrid probably isn't the point, nor would that be all that earth shattering, but a potential 20 percent increase in fuel economy for every ICE on the road would indeed be a major shift.

Admittedly, still a big "IF"...
 

TheTellurian

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Just imagine that applied to a hybrid. 70-80 MPG!?

My "point" was that the article was as much about sensationalism rather than exceeding whats available now which on a MPG scale it does not.

I have not felt any need for more power in my Gen4 Prius but note that earlier versions may. I have never driven one having had pickups for the past 30 years. And I am not disparaging the technology just the hyperbole.


Richard
 
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