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MIT researchers work on a ethanol direct injection engine

MIT researchers are developing an automotive power plant that promises up to 30% greater fuel economy than traditional gasoline engines. The new engine, which would be powered by ethanol, would be production ready within five years.

MIT says that it can boost fuel efficiency by directly injecting ethanol into the cylinder. Direct injection technology is already being used on a number of gasoline engine vehicles including the Mazda MazdaSpeed3, Lexus IS350 and Pontiac Solstice GXP. Direct injection allows for a finer control of fuel and injection timings compared to traditional fuel injected vehicles.

Knocking sounds, which are caused by spontaneous combustion, would be eliminated allowing ethanol engines to use heavily-boosted turbocharging systems and much higher compression ratios. The use of direct injection combined with ethanol is what allows for the 30% increase in fuel economy. MIT goes so far as to say that if every vehicle in the United States were equipped with such an engine, yearly automotive fuel consumption would drop from 140 billion gallons to 110 billion gallons.

"To actually affect oil consumption, we need to have people want to buy our engine, so our work also emphasizes keeping down the added cost and minimizing any inconvenience to the driver," said Daniel Cohn, of MIT's Plasma Science and Fusion Center.

MIT researchers believe that an ethanol-based direct injection engine would add just $1,000 to the cost of a new vehicle instead of the $3,000 to $5,000 seen with hybrids. What's more amazing is that the engine will be half the size of conventional gasoline engines. But while all of this sounds nice, the new technology will be for naught if more ethanol pumping stations aren't added to our existing fuel delivery infrastructure.

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RE: Why?
By therealnickdanger on 10/27/2006 12:24:35 PM , Rating: 1
That's what sucks about ethanol (or at least E85) is that while on average it costs 5-10 cents less at the pump, much of its cost is paid for via our tax dollars, making it more expensive in reality. Depending on the engine E85 does produce more power than gasoline, there's no argument there, but with more power generally comes more consumption, and since E85 gets substantially less MPG than its gasoline cousins, you end up using more fuel, almost negating the "cleaner" emissions.

If I drive like Miss Daisy, I can get 26MPG out of my 5.7L 340HP/390TQ V8 on non-ethanol blends. If I get less-restrictive headers, cats, and exhaust, I can get closer to 30MPG while also upping my HP/TQ. If ethanol can do that while costing less (including subsidies) and clean up their production act, I would use it in a car. For now, I avoid it like the plague.

"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

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