Nissan has announced that its next-generation internal combustion engines will reach a level of thermal efficiency currently on seen in Formula 1 engines, and Mercedes-AMGs power units at that.
The new engines will be capable of 50 per cent thermal efficiency, a ten per cent increase compared to most current engines.
Thermal efficiency refers to how much of the energy created by a combustion engine actually results in motion. Most is wasted as heat, with an average of 40 per cent converted into kinetic energy. The higher the thermal efficiency, the more energy is converted to movement with an ultimate result of less fuel used.
Future iterations of cars like the Nissan Note will get an engine with the thermal efficiency of a Formula 1 car.
According to Nissan, the gains have come from new engine developments that allow a leaner (high concentration of air-to-petrol) fuel burn with a higher compression ratio. Forcing the air-fuel mixture into the cylinder under more pressure, along with a stronger spark, results in a more powerful burn.
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This is paired with the latest e-Power hybrid technology, which uses the engine to generate electricity for an electric motor. The hybrid addition lets the engine operate in its most efficient powerband more often.
It seems that Nissans e-Power technology is key for hitting the 50 per cent mark so it will be interesting to see how thermally efficient its pure combustion engines are.
Its unclear if Nissan can hit the 50 per cent thermal efficiency mark without the e-Power system, as that effectively turns the engine into a generator rather than a primary powerplant.
In any case, Nissan has prototypes hovering around the 46 per cent mark, with the final four per cent to be found in unspecified waste heat recovery technologies.
Commenting on the technological breakthrough, Nissans powertrain and EV engineering boss, Toshihiro Hirai said: It took 50 years to increase thermal efficiency (of conventional engines) from 30 per cent to 40 per cent.
Nissan wants to hit carbon neutrality by 2050. That includes repurposing old Leaf batteries for use in buildings.
But with e-POWER, we can increase it to 50 per cent in several years. That has been the target for the engineering community.
The new engines will help the Japanese builder towards its new goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. Other ways it will get there include battery innovations like solid-state technology and a battery ecosystem to support decentralised onsite power generation for buildings with renewable energy sources.
Presumably, this means end-of-life Leafs will have their batteries removed to power buildings. Nissan added that it anticipates increased collaboration with the energy sector to decarbonise power grids.
Additionally, by the early 2030s, Nissan will only have electrified offerings in Japan, China and Europe.