Even the most efficient and robust engine technologies will never make it to market without the vehicle system meeting emissions regulations. But this is not the first instance where significant emissions control advances were needed to transition a combustion technology to market. Advances in catalyst technologies more than 40 years ago were critical to meeting emerging emissions regulations; the effectiveness of catalysts for conventional spark-ignition engines has since improved by a factor of 100 while achieving a substantial reduction in expensive platinum group metals. Meeting the new challenges is a very active area of research at ORNL and other U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories, as well as in industry.
But gas- and diesel-powered engines are not done yet. Just as electrified cars — whether hybrids or pure battery-powered models — seem headed for market dominance, Mazda announced a breakthrough in gasoline engines that could make them far more efficient. It is the latest plot twist in a century of improvements for internal combustion engines, a power source pronounced dead many times that has persisted nevertheless. Here is some truth-squadding on the latest in auto technology.
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