The stratified charge engine
is a type of internal-combustion engine, similar in some ways to the Diesel cycle, but running on normal gasoline. The name refers to the layering of fuel/air mixture, the charge inside the cylinder.
In a traditional Otto cycle engine the fuel and air are mixed outside the cylinder and are drawn into it during the intake stroke. The air/fuel ratio is kept very close to stoichiometric, which is defined as the exact amount of air necessary for a complete combustion of the fuel. This mixture is easily ignited and burns smoothly.
The problem with this design is that after the combustion process is complete, the resulting exhaust stream contains a considerable amount of free single atoms of oxygen and nitrogen, the result of the heat of combustion splitting the O2 and N2 molecules in the air. These will readily react with each other to create NOx, a pollutant. A catalytic converter in the exhaust system re-combines the NOx back into O2 and N2 in modern vehicles.
A Diesel engine, on the other hand, injects the fuel into the cylinder directly. This has the advantage of avoiding premature spontaneous combustionâ€a problem known as detonation or ping that plagues Otto cycle enginesâ€and allows the Diesel to run at much higher compression ratios. This leads to a more fuel-efficient engine. That is why they are commonly found in applications where they are being run for long periods of time, such as in trucks.