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Car - fuel technologies
Most cars in use today are propelled by an internal combustion engine, fueled by deflagration of gasoline or diesel. Both fuels are known to cause air pollution and are also blamed for contributing to climate change and global warming.4 Rapidly increasing oil prices, concerns about oil dependence, tightening environmental laws and restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions are propelling work on alternative power systems for cars. Efforts to improve or replace existing technologies include the development of hybrid vehicles, plug-in electric vehicles and hydrogen vehicles. Vehicles using alternative fuels such as ethanol flexible-fuel vehicles and natural gas vehicles are also gaining popularity in some countries. Cars for racing or speed records have sometimes employed jet or rocket engines, but these are impractical for common use.
Oil consumption in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries has been abundantly pushed by car growth; the 1985?2003 oil glut even fuelled the sales of low-economy vehicles in OECD countries. The BRIC countries are adding to this consumption; in December 2009 China was briefly the largest car market.35
The very first internal combustion engines
The very first internal combustion engines did not compress the mixture. The first part of the piston downstroke drew in a fuel-air mixture, then the inlet valve closed and, in the remainder of the down-stroke, the fuel-air mixture fired. The exhaust valve opened for the piston upstroke. These attempts at imitating the principle of a steam engine were very inefficient. There are a number of variations of these cycles, most notably the Atkinson and Miller cycles. The diesel cycle is somewhat different.
Split-cycle engines separate the four strokes of intake, compression, combustion and exhaust into two separate but paired cylinders. The first cylinder is used for intake and compression. The compressed air is then transferred through a crossover passage from the compression cylinder into the second cylinder, where combustion and exhaust occur. A split-cycle engine is really an air compressor on one side with a combustion chamber on the other.
Previous split-cycle engines have had two major problems?poor breathing (volumetric efficiency) and low thermal efficiency. However, new designs are being introduced that seek to address these problems.
The Scuderi Engine addresses the breathing problem by reducing the clearance between the piston and the cylinder head through various turbo charging techniques. The Scuderi design requires the use of outwardly opening valves that enable the piston to move very close to the cylinder head without the interference of the valves. Scuderi addresses the low thermal efficiency via firing after top dead centre (ATDC).
Firing ATDC can be accomplished by using high-pressure air in the transfer passage to create sonic flow and high turbulence in the power cylinder.
A hybrid vehicle uses two or more distinct types of power, such as internal combustion engine+electric motor,1 e.g. in diesel-electric trains using diesel engines and electricity from overhead lines, and submarines that use diesels when surfaced and batteries when submerged. Other means to store energy include pressurized fluid, in hydraulic hybrids.