January 2015 Newsletter Article

MSU Takes Major Step Toward Improving Fuel Efficiency In Cars And Trucks

By: Patricia Mroczek, Communicator, MSU College of Engineering

A team led by Guoming “George” Zhu, MSU professor of mechanical engineering and electrical and computer engineering, successfully completed the modeling, simulation, design and construction of a prototype spark ignition engine. The engine is capable of homogeneous charge compression ignition combustion that when combined with other fuel economy technologies, could achieve 54.5 miles per gallon in cars and trucks. The project is a major step toward improving fuel efficiency up to 20 percent.

In addition, the Zhu team engine perfected a smooth mode transition between homogeneous charge compression ignition (high fuel efficiency and low emissions) and conventional spark ignited engines that provide on-demand power for passing. Current engine technology that offers the two combustion modes already exists, but the transition in Zhu’s engine is so smooth that drivers won’t notice the difference—a characteristic sought by automakers. The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, which will make the research findings available on the DOE public website in the near future.