According to a report published by Autoguide, the company has designed an engine that does away with convention, opting instead for something never before seen in the automotive industry.
The idea behind the engine runs in a similar vein as current motors that can deactivate certain cylinders depending on the power needed.
The benefit of running an engine with varying cylinder volumes is most noticed when you look at the power demands required by the average driver.
If, for example, Honda were to build a six-cylinder engine with matching displacements, they would normally take the total volume (let's say 3.0 litres) and divide it by the number of cylinders (six).
In this example, a normal engine with six-cylinders would have a displacement of .5-litres within each cylinder. During normal driving, all cylinders would be active and provide a torque moment about the crankshaft.
In cases where cylinder deactivation is used, they would look to deactivate a number of cylinders under light load to save fuel.
During this cylinder-deactivation phase, if the vehicle were to deactivate two cylinders, the engine would operate at a total displacement of 2.0 litres and as a four-cylinder.
If we look at Honda's patent, the company could look to use variable cylinder volumes, so that they could operate a six-cylinder engine with two 250ml cylinders, two 500ml cylinders and two 750ml cylinders.
In total, they provide the same displacement, but instead of only two operation scenarios in the cylinder deactivation example, you could potentially run the engine with any combination of those cylinders.
Images courtesy of Autoguide.com
This gives the engine an ability to choose the precise cylinder combinations required for any throttle and load input. So in theory, instead of using four- of the six-cylinders to achieve a lower fuel consumption, the car could just use two of the 250ml cylinders, or one of the 250ml and one of the 500ml cylinders.
The only challenge here would be ensuring there is no vibration with the various combinations available.
The patent outlines that the technology could be utilised on in-line two-, three- and four-cylinder engines, as well as V-type motors such as a V6.
As it would appear the design is still very much in its infancy, whether the technology will find itself in future Honda vehicles is not known.