A combustion system which can utilize high compression ratios, short burn durations, and homogeneous fuel/air mixtures in conjunction with low equivalence ratios. In particular, a free-piston, two-stroke autoignition internal combustion engine including an electrical generator having a linear alternator with a double-ended free piston that oscillates inside a closed cylinder is provided. Fuel and air are introduced in a two-stroke cycle fashion on each end, where the cylinder charge is compressed to the point of autoignition without spark plugs. The piston is driven in an oscillating motion as combustion occurs successively on each end. This leads to rapid combustion at almost constant volume for any fuel/air equivalence ratio mixture at very high compression ratios. The engine is characterized by high thermal efficiency and low NO.sub.x emissions. The engine is particularly suited for generating electrical current in a hybrid automobile.
The U.S. Government has a paid-up license in this invention and the right in limited circumstances to require the patent owner to licence others on reasonable terms as provided for by the terms of Contract No. DE-AC04-94AL85000 awarded by the Department of Energy.