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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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A lot of the technology already exists
By TheOtherBubka on 10/27/2006 12:37:57 PM , Rating: 2
I agree. Here's a quick rundown on promised technologies:

1. Saab introduced Saab Variable Combustion Control where
they used DI into a variable sized combustion chamber. If
I remember correctly, a 1.5L put out about 225 hp and 260
lb-ft. Obviously google this for the press releases.

2. Volkwagen has already put out a very efficient engine
for their European market that has great torque and very
high horsepower all while completely demolishing the Civic
and Corolla in fuel economy too. It's in the Golf and
marketed as the Twincharger. Over 40 mpg city and highway
without the batteries. Google it.It is a 2006 International
Engine of the Year on

3. Very large strides in diesel development reduction of
NOx and soot. Technology exists and going to production
starting with Mercedes and Volkswagen.

4. Now...take these and add a small hybrid system akin to
the Civic and Accord and what do you have? Well over 50
mpg with insane acceleration and power and very very
very small battery usage compared to the Toyota method.

By GreenEnvt on 10/27/2006 1:56:15 PM , Rating: 2
For #3, Honda's new Diesel system looks MUCH better then Mercedes, no tank of chemicals to refill.

By JDub02 on 10/27/2006 3:53:08 PM , Rating: 2
Diesels really are the (near) future of fuel economy. I just wish there were more options than VW's in the US. I would gladly trade my gas motor for a nice turbodiesel. VW's regularly get 45-50 mpg on the highway. Can't say that for my V6 (29 mpg).

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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