Independence Biofuels Opens Pennsylvania Injection-Blending Facility
Toyota Hits Some Challenges in Designing Hybrid Drivetrain for Tundra

Honda Making Significant Progress on HCCI Engine for Hybrid Application

Honda’s 4-stroke test-bed

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Honda may introduce an HCCI-type engine in a hybrid application that could result in a new Civic hybrid achieving as much as 65 mpg—30% better than the new 2006 version.

According to the engineers who spoke to the WSJ on the condition of anonymity, the company is ready to reveal its R&D results and show a prototype four-cylinder HCCI engine as early as next year.

HCCI—Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition—relies upon a very lean (high proportion of air to fuel) and well-mixed (Homogeneous) air-fuel mixture (Charge) that is compressed (Compression) until it autoignites (Ignition). (The HCCI approach is also called Controlled Auto-Ignition: CAI.)

The resulting spontaneous burn produces a flameless energy release in a large zone almost simultaneously—very different than the spark/gasoline burn or the compression/diesel burn. (Earlier post.)

HCCI combustion can deliver a very efficient engine, potentially providing a 20% to 30% boost in gasoline engine efficiency without the nasty NOx or PM emissions of a diesel. Theoretically it can operate using a variety of fuels: gasoline, diesel, natural gas, biofuels, or hydrogen. Used in a hybrid application, the more efficient engine would increase the overall fuel efficiency of the powertrain.

Managing the combustion for the different types of fuels, though, is extremely tricky, and is the subject of a large amount of R&D. Most recently, GM announced it is working with supplier Robert Bosch and Stanford University to accelerate development of HCCI engines with a three-year, $2.5-million research program. (Earlier post.)

To develop more efficient gasoline engines, Honda opened an Advanced Powertrain Research center in Japan to focus on improving internal-combustion technology. The goal is to deliver a gasoline engine with a thermal efficiency between 40% to 50% through a combination of different technologies such as HCCI. Reaching that level of thermal efficiency would more than double the present efficiency of a typical gasoline engine.

The company has been working on auto-ignition schemes, which it termed Activated Radical Combustion, in two-stroke engines for its motorcycles, for a number of years.

According to the engineers cited in the Journal piece, Honda has been able to clear obstacles to create a prototype four-cylinder HCCI engine that runs smoothly in a low-to-medium speed range.

That, they said, should represent about 65% of the load range necessary to run a gasoline engine properly on the highway. The main challenge left to clear is high speeds, or above 4,000 revolutions per minute, the engineers said. A typical Honda gasoline-fueled engine covers a range reaching 6,000 RPMs.

In 2004, when discussing the potential of its HCCI work, Honda CEO Takeo Fukui estimated that an HCCI Accord could get 50 mpg (double that of conventional Accords) and that a HCCI hybrid Accord could boost mileage to 70 mpg.



Jesse Jenkins

Once again, while Detroit automakers whine about how disasterous to business increased mileage standards or GHG emissions reductions would be or hard it would be to engineer these systems, Japanese automakers quietly and effectively work away at developing just such a solution. Take one look at GM and Ford's stock graph for the last year and compare it to Honda and Toyota's and you'll see that I think GM and Ford simply don't have what it takes to compete in a changing business environment. Changing conditions require changing business plans. Then again, maybe they are finally starting to get it (four links there)... they're taking (very) small (very) reluctant steps anyway...

Harvey D

I agree with Jesse that GM and Ford vehicles average mileage has not realy changed for the last 30 years, if not 100 years and that they are definately not doing enough.

Honda and Toyata had been doing much better until they introduced large 4 x 4 and pickups a few years ago.

The high efficiency new HCCI engine seems to be ideal for plug-in hybrids where it could run at the very most efficient speed to recharge the batteries on long trips.

Way to go Honda. Keep it coming and please come up with a HCCI plug-in hybrid soon.

Lance Funston

Nothing makes an automotive engineer as lazy as $2.00/gal gas...

Put the incredible inventiveness and discipline of Japanese business together with $7/gal gas and we get the incredible string of innovations in efficient engine technology we've seen in just the last 5 years.

It's hard to decide who is doing the better work, Honda or Toyota (and their luxury marks Acura and Lexus), but Honda's HCCI could be upping the ante to Toyota's HSD.


Now imagine a plug-in hybrid Prius with an HCCI engine.

Ron Fischer

Interesting how this type of engine inverts use of hybridization: support high speed operation insted of low. Toyota referred to designing future engines that only work in a hybrid system. The Atkinson cycle engines in Prius and Escape were a start, as they have low torque at low RPM. Appears HCCI is next.


The buying public is so throughly brainwashed by years of TV commericals that they have to have high weight and power that they just can't let go.

I am amazed that anyone has bought a one of these 8 mpg tanks since gas reached $3 a gallon.

The auto companies are at the point where even they have started to believe their own BS.

That there are a few like us here that seem to "get it" is amazing. It's no surprise to me that Mary Anne Wright told Ford to shove it. You can't do what she has done for the past 7 years without catching on.


I know someone who drives a long-bed pickup with a crew cab.  He pays ~$2.55/gallon for fuel at the moment, and he still claims gas is cheap.

Of course, he's well-off by most people's standards.  I promote stiff gas taxes (with FICA deductibles as a giveback) as a way to help change the behavior of people like him.

People could have both high weight and power without burning a lot of fuel.  It's quite simple:  you just load a vehicle full of lead-acid batteries, and run mostly or entirely on electricity.  Yet neither our auto industry nor our various policy and regulatory agencies have discovered this very obvious trick.  Strange, that....

Harvey D

For the last 60 days the local Ad Media is full with Big Three 4 x 4 and large pick-ups for sale. Not one of their smaller vehicle is advertized. It seems that they have a very large inventory of those 2005 monsters and their plan is to try to download them on us. Fortunately, very few are buying. Meanwhile Honda Civic and Toyota Corollas are out of stock and the Toyota Prius II is very hard to get. The buyers seem to be sending a clear message.

Eventually, the buyers should decide what to buy and NOT to buy. However, gas at $4 + would help to convince more of us to change our pre-programmed atitude to buy oversized gas guzzlers. Now, that would happen quickly with crude OIL at around $85+ and the main suppliers (about 10 countries) would cash it huge profits and the USA trade deficits would double again.

The smart way to counter crude OIL price is with a new national gas tax of $1 to $2 per gallon. This would put the required pressure on users and convince them to buy smaller more effcient vehicles and reduce their gas consumption by up to 50%. The crude OIL price would almost immediately go down by up to 50% due to major reduction in demand. Air polution would automatically go down 50% +. The USA 400 billion dollar yearly budget deficit would dive with the extra gas tax revenues. If samller more efficient vehicles are built in the USA, the national trade deficit could also go down by 50% or more due to major reduction in car and OIL imports.

The only losers would be the OIL cartels but everybody else would be on the winning side. The Big Three and UAW members would have to make a quick about face and switch from gas guzzlers to small more efficient vehicles to survice.

We, the vehicle buyers, can make it happen by refusing to buy a car doing less than 40 mpg to 50 mpg.


Honda already makes an Accord that gets 50+ mpg! It's the European Accord with the excellent 2.2 CDTI engine (140 HP, 258 ft*lbs). Now if Honda North America would only get a clue and sell it here in the States they'd have a guaranteed winner on their hands...



What is the thing in the pic with the Lotus logo labled Lotus AVT Cont??? Sytem? What is Lotus contributing to the project?

I want a HCCI in an Elise!


Harvey, take a look at what I proposed and see what you have to say about it.


To Harvey D
I agree with all your points accept the last.

Dude, people drive from point A to B and back to A. It is called going to work and then coming back home. What in god's name would be the advantage of taxing fuel more??
For some reason some people have it in their head that if you raise the price of fuel people will use it less. No, no,. and NO !! It isn't a chocholate bar or a new mobile phone. People need to go to work regardless of cost to transport.

Oh, you will hurt the oil baron. BS you will. They will churn out the same volume of oil while the public gets slammed for it.

And here's another tidbit. Studies have shown the pollution responsible for powering the production of a single new car can be as detrimental as several year of that car's operation. Plus your old car has to get recycled soemhow. What environmental impact does that have??

Lastly, I am not a suporter of 8 mpg cars, but if your car does 25-30mpg then thats just fine. Most family cars that were designed in good conscience to carry 2-3 kids and tow a load would be in this economy range.

Its fine to think about the environment and how to improve cars in the future. Just think a little more broadly about the economics and migration plan of it all.


The idea behind a higher gas tax is that it would force people to move from 15 MPG SUVs for their necessary solo commute to 30 MPG cars. With appropriate refund mechanisms in place it will work, but the real issue is that there's no political support for conservation. Nobody in their 'political' right mind would support a policy of reducing growth and promoting the conservation of resources, consuming less. It's going to be a difficult time for Americans as the oil gradually gets more and more expensive, like the frogs in that pot of water warming slowly. Addictions are hard to kick, and this national addiction is going to really hurt, no doubt.


Did anyone read the article about people making the Nat Ave wage of $40K using 3.3% of their income to gas? I think the important figure was the one about people making less than that...they can spend up to 11% of their income to gas.

It's not the guy who is able to afford to fill up a SUV that is going to get hurt, it's the guy making $20k ($10 an hour, which not to long ago was good money)trying to support a family that is going to have to make some hard decisions about which bill not to pay that month.

I own a Ford Taurus that gets lousy milage (and don't even get me started about all the $$ I've shelled out for repairs). I hate the piece of crap that it is with a passion and would kill for a hybrid, but I can't afford to go upside down on a new car. Even if the Ford was paid off I'm not sure I could afford a hybrid. They need to be more affordable!

Big Gas just released their profits for the last quarter. They all made BILLIONS of dollars(up to almost 10B)in 1 quarter! If they put a small fraction (5%?) of their profits toward alt energy R&D our problems could be solved in just a few years. And then maybe great tech could be available to those of us who make under that $40k.
Why isn't someone requiring them to be more proactive?

Roger Arnold

Regarding use of stiffer fuel taxes to encourage more efficient vehicles and driving habits: almost nobody gets how things work in that situation. But most everyone *thinks* that they do. That makes it nearly impossible to pass intelligent legislation.

Here's the bottom line: in a production-limited system (which we definitely have now for oil) the price of a commodity will rise until demand is reduced to match supply. It doesn't really matter how much of that price is tax. IN A SUPPLY-LIMITED MARKET, TAXING A PRODUCT DOES NOT INCREASE ITS PRICE. It only affects how the money paid for the product is divided between the producer and the taxing authority.

There are all sorts of caveats and qualifications that properly go with that statement. E.g, excessive taxes can easily change a supply-limited comodity into a demand-limited commodity. That occurs when they cut the share of the price going to producers to the point that the producers start looking for other lines of work. High taxes on products also tend to create black markets, and nurture corruption and organized crime.

Nontheless, intelligently chosen taxes *can* be used to nudge economic activity in desirable directions. They're really about the only effective tool the government has for doing so.

Lloyd Weaver

America continues to lose market share in car sales and is also experiencing an energy crisis due to it’s high oil use. There are ways to revitalize America’s automotive technology nearly doubling miles per gallon with only two basic changes in engines and transmissions.

Current gasoline engines do well to average 25% efficiency, whereas little known HCCI engines can average over 42% over gasoline using diesel fuel. Research shows this lean burn cycle can take NOx from 10-100 times lower than existing diesels, particulates are much lower, and catalytic converters can eliminate what little VOC’s escape, and it can reach diesel power densities. Sound ideal? It is. HCCI is really a combination Otto cycle (gasoline engine) and compression ignition engine (diesel). Fuel is injected as in a gasoline engine on the down stroke or at the bottom of the stroke and has more time to gasify before ignition occurs on the up compression ignition stroke. Timing when the fuel should ignite on the commission ignition up stroke has been the problem, and is what only invention can solve. A possible solution is a small piston in the head to provide extra compression at the exact instant can do it as possibly could high energy sonics to temporarily cause a higher compression ratio to ignite the mixture under compression ignition conditions. The point is, there are practical answers to this dilemma and so we should get on with an accelerated high priority HCCI engine development program. Also, it’s an engine that can burn just about any fuel you can throw at it.

Exiting automatic transmissions (dynamometer testing shows CVT’s average 85% or so efficiency under load, total efficiency including shafts, seals, CV joints and bearings is likely less) could average 97 percent (total with drive shafts) using a variable sprocket CVT-type roller chain approach to high ratio transmissions. The roller chain transmission in automatic mode would have 4 times less losses than present automatic transmissions (97% versus 86% efficiency). And being based on a roller chain sprocket set, it can’t “slip” or “smoke” when high torques are applied. This is ideal. It’s well known sprocket sizes are varied a tooth at a time making 25 steps possible for a broad ratio change. Granted the chain rides up over a tooth with each shift as one segmented sprocket decreases in diameter while the other increases (for example), but this is no different than a bicycle transmission, except in this instance, the segmented sprockets are in perfect alignment, side plates prevent chain jumping off, and momentary torque decrease to effortlessly shift is done automatically. It should work quite smoothly. Of course, it could skip through several ratio possibilities (3-4 sprocket teeth at a time when shifting) to simulate a 6 or 7 speed geared automatic, but the roller chain unit would enjoy a much broader ratio capability than a geared transmission and be more compact and lighter as well making a simpler wet clutch suffice in place of a torque converter.

Fundamental changes like these are what’s required to transform the U.S. auto industry and win back market share. The inventions involved are outlined publicly for the first time this week at (click on “New Inventions”). We can have fuel flexible engines like HCCI and the ultimate efficiency in transmissions. We just have to take advantage of what invention has to offer.


It's sad fact that it is not politically correct to support higher gas taxes. John Kerry once proposed it, but had to back away. With some type of offset credit in place it would balance out. You have to give people the incentive to use less gas. If you now spend $1200 per year on gas and gas prices doubled but you got a $1200 credit it would be up to the individual to find a way to use less gallons and save some money. Maybe you could move to point C, somewhere closer to work or buy a more fuel efficent car. If we had put a $1 gas tax in place 10 years ago gas would be costing..oh around $2.50 a gallon today, but $1 of that would be going into the US Treasury instead of to the Saudis.

Gene  R. Jackson

Look up the fuel Ecalene on Google - we have two patents on the process. We are ready to make the fuel in a plant here in Denver - 12,000 to 15,000 gallons per day with a 140+ ROI - please get in touch, we have already run some tests with our fuel on HCCI Engines.

303-205-1991 tel

George  Ivanov  Popov

Dear Sirs,
In the present letter, I am presenting a preliminary information and a proposal for joint activity (in a team, consisting of motivated and professionally qualified specialists) regarding a high tech environmental friendly project of international importance, including development, realization and launching in the automotive industry of a MULTIFUELED ENGINE WITH VARIABLE COMPRESSION RATIO ADAPTIVE CONTROL, suitable for use in mass-produced motor cars and having a flexible, self regulating structure, with abilities for over governing and due to multi parameter control, this structure is compatible with the up to date level of computer technology development and provides for optimization of air to fuel mixture formation and combustion process organization in view of FREE IGNITION OF LIQUIFIED AND GASEOUS FUELS HAVING DIFFERENT PROPERTIES AND WIDE FRACTIONAL CONTENT, INCLUDING HYDROGEN. The construction provides for a great potential for improvement in fuel consumption up to 30-35% and power increase accompanied by substantial reduction in dimensions and weight of the engines, by the application of high level of inlet air charging with simultaneous reduction of noxious emissions amount. The proposed invention may be qualified as “hardware”, providing for the installation of complex systems for control of the processes in the engine and the survey of prospective methods for combustion process control of HCCI (Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition). A substantial priority of the proposed construction is that it is built on the basis of the configuration of the existent up to date internal combustion engines, thus providing for expected reasonable financial costs for development and implementation of the product, and also having in mind the circumstance that for building of a sample engine it is possible to use modified ready automotive components. The design offers an opportunity for use in integrated adaptive controled ELECTROHYBRID SYSTEMS and it is distinctive with its relative simplicity and production suitability in comparison with state of the art solutions, as analyzed in the thorough patent survey. If any interest is shown from your side, please send your reply regarding your competent co-operation in the development of an experimental prototype (based on a serial production engine) and the international patent protection of the proposed high tech product, keeping correctly to your requirements regarding any co-operation and joint activity.

Sincerely Yours,
Georgi Ivanov Popov Grad. Mech. Eng.
E-mail: [email protected]
tel: +359 899218573


I never thought I would say this but Honda can't figure out that they could be using the HCCI engine now if they were thinking in terms of a series hybrid configuration. Here is how:
-Find the engine speed at which the thermal efficiency is the highest.
-Couple this engine to a 3 phase generator by using a small, high efficiency CVT (Nissan) in between the two. This way you can force the engine to work at a fixed speed no matter what the power output is.

And there you have it. You have the most efficient Gen-set for electric dominant series-hybrid ever made.

The Tesla roadster has proven that electric drivetrains have matured to the point as to have a higher power density than the best ICE drive train. Their 248 hp electric motor is only 70 lbs and 90% efficient under real conditions (95% for low power outputs, 80% at peak power). Many will argue than 90% efficiency is nothing to brag about in an electric motor but this motor has an almost constant torque from 0 to 8000 rpm with a slight decrease from 8000 to 13000 rpm. This means that you don't need a big heavy transmission. All the weight savings more than make up for the less than stellar 90% efficiency.


To expand on Mr George Ivanov Popov's comments, has anybody at Honda thought about combining other technologies with the HCCI concept?

Here is how:
Use an Atkinson cycle engine with HCCI to further increase the thermal efficiency by making the expansion volume greater than the compression volume.

Using a turbocharging similar to the one used in the SAAB E85, you can artificially change the compression ratio of the engine depending upon the octane rating of the fuel used. By using pure ethanol (very high octane) you can significantly increase the compression ratio of the engine. Although ethanol only has about 75% the energy content of gasoline, the much higher octane of ethanol will allow you to increase the thermal efficiency that could more than compensate for the lower energy density.

Instead of a HCCI engine, why not a quasi-HCCI engine? Compress the lean air/high octane fuel mix to just below self ignition detonation temperature. Inject a tiny amount of low octane liquid fuel at an extremely high pressure (similar to the modern diesel injection system). Detonation will occur at the desired point.


Honda good to go,but I think you guys should just pause a minute and take a good look at nissan, ever body is talking about honda and toyota and overlooking a new and different nissan with a bag of technologies,but you might get a surprise form nissan in the future as they could be come the most fuel economical of the three. remember nissan had a diesel engine that is HCCI-like which they called the hybrid diesel(it improves the milage by 50% of the previous engine use) that was manufacture in 1998 and Toyota had one in 2000, but the nissan can use alternative mix with diesel and the toyota cannot.

Futher more nissan has started to look deeply on hcci engine since 2002 and promise to have it in 2010,and for that, there is the Titan and the armada which are flexable fuel vehicle and they are the only one available from japan in trucks or suvs..They are also coming with there own in house hybrid and also the possibilty of a plug in.

Nissan has started cover some ground on the there new engines and have been recovering losses that cause poor milage. for example the new Tiida (versa)1500 cc with cvt now average 19.4 km/l while the corolla with i-cvt is 18.2 km/l, believe it or not, it is true.

It I am saying, donot count out nissan they are back, and have more technology than toyota and honda in alot of areas.

Nissan tino hybrid is the only hybrid that uses solar energy as back up, and the they have develop a capacitor called super capacitor, honda also built one after nissan's, they will replace battery in hybrid cars in the future so keep a watch out for the three Japs

Janwillem Tak

I am a European.
The same Ford and GM companiescan produce fuel efficient engines. They already do, otherwise they wouldn't sell a single car in Europe.
30 to 50 miles per gallon is standard. Gas costs US$ 7 - 8 per gallon throughout Europe.
Your problems are automatics (+20% more gas than a stickshift), big cars with lots of cubic inches and no urge to save energy.
By the way, why do you need those gas guzzlers?
Our kids go to school on bikes, they cannot afford a car and their parent don't pay for it. Much more energy friendly, kids go in groups and have fun, thus much more sociable and much healthier. The average distance to school is 6 miles. All you have to do is provide good bicycling roads apart from the main roads.


i am very glad to wat ch this type of engine


i am er. sanjeev kumar(lecturer).i have innovated a fuel less engine.the engine operates by electro-mechanical which consumption of electrical energy delivered by battery is very less. this innovation has been registered by national innovation foundation
india. i can send its design for approval before commercialisation.
thanks and regards

The comments to this entry are closed.