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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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By Jeff7181 on 10/27/2006 3:06:50 PM , Rating: 3
1. Diesel fuel is oil based so it's NOT a viable alternative to gasoline in that respect. Whether we produce diesel fuel or gasoline with that oil doesn't matter, we still need that oil for both of them.

2. Diesel engines have a much HIGHER compression ratio anywhere from 15:1 to 25:1 whereas a typical gasoline engine is around 8 or 9:1. Diesels also don't necessarily have less moving parts, just different moving parts.

One of the great things about diesel is it's air/fuel ratio. At idle it can be close to 100:1 where a gasonline engine needs to be at 14.7:1 almost all the time.


By FITCamaro on 10/28/2006 2:58:40 PM , Rating: 2
Yup on number 2. Why you think turbo diesel trucks make so much power with simple tuning. Those blocks and bottom ends are already built to handle a ton of compression, so turning up the boost doesn't make much of an impact on anything but horsepower and torque. Some of the turbo diesel trucks out there can easily go from 600 lb ft of torque to 1000 lb ft with a simple computer tuner and get better gas mileage doing it. The only thing you have to really worry about is exhaust temperatures or you could start melting things.

I'd say the typical compression ratio for a gas engine these days is 9.5:1 - 10:1. The only engines that will have as low as a 8:1 compression ration would be a supercharged or turbocharged engine. Even 9:1 is getting rarer except in boosted applications. Higher performance engines typically have 10.5:1 - 11:1 compression ratios.


"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson











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