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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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Wrong. Gas makes more power.
By FITCamaro on 10/27/2006 2:17:24 PM , Rating: 2
Ethanol does not produce more power than gas. It produces less. E85 can deliver the same fuel economy and around the same power though. The issue is that motors aren't totally tuned for it yet. They're tuned to get the most out of gas but will still run the lower octane fuel of ethanol.

The reason gas as a fuel is so good is because of its high energy to unit ratio(i don't know the proper term). It's better than anything else we have. The downside is the emissions. Ethanol is a good alternative but the fuel isn't going to make as much power as gas does. Now with the growing popularity of turbochargers and superchargers, this can be balanced out. But a gas engine with just as good of tuning and the same compression will make more power.

I support the move to E85. True ethanol has to be produced and can be expensive to do so, but thats because its not in the mass production that would be necessary for the entire country to run on the stuff. If we ever did make the switch, it would enter truly mass production and the costs of production would go down. I'm a horsepower buff as well, but with proper tuning we can still get pretty much the same power out of the same size engine. There's top fuel drag cars that run on ethanol, so obviously it can make power.

I've actually wanted to build a 350 that runs on ethanol and makes around 400hp, then drop it in a Camaro and have some fun. Only issue would be filling it up.

RE: Wrong. Gas makes more power.
By Etsp on 10/27/2006 10:30:13 PM , Rating: 2
Ethanol has a higher octane rating... another poster linked a (broken link) but had the correct information about Octane Rating, here's a (hopefully) working link. Higher Octane rating does NOT mean more energy.

RE: Wrong. Gas makes more power.
By FITCamaro on 10/28/2006 2:50:40 PM , Rating: 2
Where did I say higher octane = more energy? Higher octane means the fuel takes more compression to ignite. Thats why in high compression engines you use higher octane fuel. If you use lower octane fuel, the fuel ignites before it should and forces the piston back down before its completed its stroke toward the cylinder head (compression stroke I believe it might be called).

Higher octane can equal more horsepower in a motor that needs it. Higher compression engines make more power (and also achieve better fuel economy with good tuning) than lower compression engines. Of course sticking 93 octane gas in a 9:1 compression motor won't do anything to make the engine run better. And in some cases will make it run worse.

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