The internal combustion engine 2.0 emerges

A six-year-old startup called Transonic Combustion, which is developing more efficient internal combustion engine technology, is scaling up with a new round of $32 million, according to a release on Thursday. The funds came from Khosla Ventures, Venrock, Rustic Canyon and Saints Capital.

Transonic Combustion is creating an efficient fuel injection system for an internal combustion engine that minimizes heat waste. The system involves heating fuel to a “supercritical” state before injecting it into the combustion chamber, allowing it to combust without the need for a spark. The company uses software to precisely adjust the injection based on the engine load.

The system can run an engine that uses both gas and diesel as well as biofuels, and it is supposed to create an engine that is 50 percent more efficient than standard engines. About two years ago Transonic Combustion showed off a demo vehicle with its engine tech that got 64 miles per gallon in highway driving.

The engine is supposed to eventually cost about the same as high-end fuel injection systems currently on the market, and Transonic Combustion has previously stated that it wants to start deploying its engine by 2014.

More efficient traditional engines could be a lower-cost way to reduce carbon emissions from cars before electric vehicles develop into any kind of market. Auto companies will also be looking for more efficient traditional technologies, because fuel standards in the U.S. are set to rise from 27 miles per gallon today to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, thanks to the Obama administration’s plan.

Transonic Combustion is just one of a variety of startups that have emerged in recent years to try to remake the internal combustion engine to optimize efficiency. Other startups include EcoMotors, Pinnacle Engines, and Liquid Piston.