TIAX to Develop Engine Sensor Technology for U.S. Department of Energy

TIAX to develop engine sensor technology for U.S. Department of Energy in a $400,000 contract for new technology could bring high-efficiency automotive engines closer to commercialization.

TIAX today announced that it has been awarded a contract by the U.S. Department of Energy to develop sensor technology that overcomes one of the key technical challenges in a new generation of high-efficiency automotive engines–controlling the start of combustion (SOC).

These advanced engines, known as “Low-Temperature Combustion” or “Homogenous Charge Compression Ignition” (HCCI), promise high efficiency and low emissions, but critical technical hurdles, such as detecting SOC, have prevented them from reaching consumers. Unlike spark ignition engines or Diesel engines, there is no direct mechanism to precisely initiate SOC in an HCCI engine.

As the prime contractor, TIAX will team with Wayne State University, a leader in engine diagnostics and control, on advancing sensor technology to address this issue. In earlier work for the DOE, TIAX developed a non-intrusive microphone sensor mounted on the engine block that is designed to determine SOC on a cycle-by-cycle basis in the same way that a stethoscope senses heart beats.

“The creation of a durable and effective start-of-combustion sensor could solve one of the most critical challenges to the viability of high-efficiency automotive engine platforms,” said Kenan Sahin, CEO and Founder of TIAX. “We believe that the sensor technology that we are developing will enable a new breed of engines that can save 10 to 15 percent of the U.S. petroleum now used in transportation, while meeting or exceeding 2010 emissions targets.”

In addition to being applicable to advanced automotive engines, the sensor technology could be fitted to virtually any type of engine on the market.