Advanced Car Combustion Engines

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Combustion Engine research addresses critical technical barriers to the commercialization of more efficient advanced internal combustion engines in light-, medium-, and heavy-duty vehicles. Specific goals are to improve, by 2012, the efficiency of internal combustion engines for (1) light-duty applications from 30% to 45% and (2) for heavy-duty applications from 40% to 55% — while meeting cost, durability, and emissions constraints.

houston hybrid vehicles advanced combustionResearch and development (R&D) efforts focus on improving engine efficiency while meeting future federal and state emissions regulations through a combination of: combustion technologies that minimize in-cylinder formation of emissions; and aftertreatment technologies that further reduce exhaust emissions. Activities include: Combustion and Emission Control R&D, Light Truck Engine R&D, Heavy Truck Engine R&D, Waste Heat Recovery R&D, and Health Impacts Research.

Work is done in collaboration with industry, national laboratories, and universities, as well as in conjunction with the FreedomCAR Partnership for the light-duty passenger vehicle applications and the 21st Century Truck Partnership for the heavy-duty commercial vehicle applications.


Internal combustion engines will continue to power transportation vehicles until hydrogen and fuel cells become commercially available. Advanced combustion engine research and development would enable commercially viable advanced high-efficiency, low-emission internal combustion engines to be available for light-duty passenger vehicles (cars and light trucks) and heavy-duty commercial vehicles. Commercialization of these technologies would lead to an overall improvement of the energy efficiency of vehicles and, therefore, a dramatic overall reduction in transportation petroleum use.

Advanced internal combustion engines may also serve as an important element in the transition to hydrogen fuel cells. Hydrogen-powered internal combustion engines can provide an interim hydrogen-based powertrain technology in the longer-term transition to hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles.


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