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Mazda's next generation gasoline engine will run cleaner than an electric car

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It might sound like an incredible claim. Particularly given the near universal adoration electric cars are receiving for being ‘green’, but Mazda’s next generation Skyactiv-3 engine is expected to be as clean- if not cleaner(!)- than an electric car.
It is claimed that the Mazda Skyactiv-3 engine could achieve thermal efficiency of as much as 56 percent.
(Image via Mazda).

The news was revealed by Mazda powertrain chief Mitsuo Hitomi whilst he was speaking at a tech forum in Tokyo, Japan.

He revealed that the main goal of the Skyactiv-3 project is to increase the engine’s thermal efficiency to roughly 56 percent. If achieved, that would make the Skyactiv-3 engine the first internal-combustion piston engine to turn the majority of its fuel energy into power, rather than waste due to friction or heat loss.

That would be an impressive feat- and according to Automotive News who originally reported the story- would represent a 27-percent improvement over current Mazda engines.

But will the Skyactiv-3 really be cleaner to run than an all-electric vehicle?

It depends on how you define it.

Apparently, Mazda are basing their claim on estimates of ‘well-to-wheel’ emissions, which takes into account the pollution generated by both fossil fuel production and utility electricity generation to compare Skyactiv-3 and EV emissions. This is a similar analysis as those made by critics of EVs who point out that much electricity across the globe continues to be produced by fossil fuels and that EV’s merely ‘displace’ emissions.

As we’ve written elsewhere, the internal combustion engine is far from dead yet. Multiple manufactures are working on tech that will make internal combustion engines cleaner, more efficient and more powerful.

Mazda themselves are betting big on internal combustion engines remaining the dominant source of propulsion for mass transport. They are investing in myriad internal combustion-based technologies such as spark-controlled compression ignition.

If Mazda succeeds in producing the Skyactiv-3 engine then the gasoline powered engine could be around for a lot longer than the critics have predicted.

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Tags: Automotive
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Mazda's next generation gasoline engine will run cleaner than an electric car - Time to read 2 min
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