When people think about reducing gasoline consumption, alternative-fuel and hybrid cars usually come to mind. Transonic Combustion, founded by Mike Cheiky in Camarillo, California, in 2006, has a simpler solution: a superefficient fuel injector designed to integrate easily into conventional cars. Unlike standard fuel injectors, the TSCi injector pressurizes and heats gasoline to 400 degrees Celsius, bringing it to a supercritical state that is partway between liquid and gas. When the substance enters the combustion chamber, it combusts without a spark and mixes with air quickly, allowing it to burn more efficiently than the liquid droplets produced by standard injectors. A Transonic test car the size and weight of a Toyota Prius achieved 64 miles per gallon at highway speeds, compared with the 48 mpg highway rating on the Prius. Transonic is working with three major automakers and expects the first TSCi-equipped vehicles to hit the market in 2014.
Transonic is testing its 10.5-inch-long injector with ethanol, biodiesel, and vegetable oil, in addition to gasoline.
The company, which has locations in Michigan and California, plans to build a factory and begin manufacturing fuel injectors by 2013.