The CCI engine was originally designed with maximizing power density as the primary goal. However, after speaking with Bill Berlinger at Caterpillar (who had a hand in the early development of the engine and who I am proud to say recently joined our Board of Managers), it became clear that we should work on improving the efficiency story. Even though the most compact version of the CCI provides efficiencies equal to or better than the best automotive diesels today, can we make them even more efficient if we are willing to give up some compactness? Would the market be more excited about an engine that is 1/2 the size of a conventional engine and has (speculatively) 50% thermal efficiency rather than an engine that is 1/4 the size and has 40% to 45% efficiency?
Our brilliant Chief Technology Advisor and inventor of the CCI engine, John Clarke, went about writing his own engine thermodynamic simulation software (yeah, I know) and has been working on this very study. I posted a paper on our website today that is the beginning of John’s case for the even more efficient CCI. Turns out that we can increase the CCI’s efficiency by about 12% from where we thought we were. This is of course very preliminary – official results will be out at a later date. What does this mean? It means that we can drive you even further on a gallon of fuel and do so with negligible emissions. One day when biofuels become a more widespread reality it will be done with 0 emissions and no need for massive costs or changes to infrastructure!
This makes for a much stronger case that the CCI really is a big part of the solution to the world’s energy woes. I get more excited about this project every day!