While the world waits to see which way the automotive industry tide will turn (electrics, hydrogen, etc.), Mazda is trying to hang onto the internal combustion engine (ICE), but with a new take on efficiency. Mazda calls it the world’s first commercial compression ignition engine, which is designed to have both the power and efficiency of a diesel engine, but can run on regular gasoline instead. It’s dubbed the SKYACTIV-X engine, another in Mazda’s series of SKYACTIV engine technologies.

How Does it Work?

Most gasoline engines use a spark from a plug to ignite the fuel to cause combustion and create power.  In the SKYACTIV-X, the engine uses extreme pressure to ignite the fuel. That’s not to say the spark has been erased. The traditional spark plug is used to begin the combustion process, then the pressure rise from the resulting flame kernel triggers the compression ignition in the remainder of the cylinder. Because of this pressure, the air/fuel ratio more than doubles, or in a conventional 15:1 ratio, goes above 30:1. Less fuel also is required, so the engine will produce 20- to 30-percent improvement in fuel efficiency over regular gasoline engines.  The benefit is excellent power with matching fuel economy, which can be created from a smaller engine.

The new SKYACTIV-X engine is part of Mazda’s global “Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030” plan, which focuses on creating engines that are efficient and powerful, yet environmentally friendly and responsible. It’s an interesting technology that Mazda has been working on for decades, and we expect to see it in operation in the lineup of upcoming Mazda products fairly soon.

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