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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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Just for the record.....
By Madellga on 10/27/2006 3:55:45 PM , Rating: 2
Ethanol is used in Brazil side by side with gasoline and diesel since 25 years. If it is not viable it was supposed to die a long time ago...

Ethanol does have less energy per mass (less milleage per liter), but can take more compression thus making it more efficient (remember carnot cycle). If an engine is tunned for it and uses all good technology available, it can raise the bar.

Ethanol has a viable energy cycle but again the industry must be tunned for it. Brazilian ethanol facilities are very efficient and use just about everything in the production cycle, including the sugar cane scrap that fuels the furnaces/boilers.

Most automotive "recent" news and development about Ethanol (including the SAAB experience) is based on the knowledge coming from automotive engineering development centers in Brazil. The ethanol engine experts are there. And it would not surprise me if one of the MIT guys would be a brazilian....

RE: Just for the record.....
By TomZ on 10/27/2006 4:00:38 PM , Rating: 2
Just for the record, ethanol will never be more than a small niche or additive fuel source in the U.S. There is no way the U.S. could ever produce anywhere near the amount of ethanol that we need in order to replace the use of gasoline. This is clearly different than the situation in Brazil. A solution for Brazil does not equal a solution for the U.S.

RE: Just for the record.....
By rushfan2006 on 10/27/2006 4:25:31 PM , Rating: 3
LOL not to mention I could see it now allocating the entire US corn crop for the alternative fuels market....

That delicious corn on the cob you had at Uncle Joe's BBQ last summer, yeah now that's suddenly an expensive delicacy that only the rich can afford.

Calls of "Caviar" at fancy celebrity parties will be replaced with "Corn"....LOL.

RE: Just for the record.....
By Madellga on 10/28/2006 2:26:38 AM , Rating: 2
When oil runs out you can import ethanol from Brazil and other countries. Secure yourself some land in a tropical country....

The problem will be the same, US is dependent from energy coming out of the country.

"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch

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