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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 TomZ on 10/27/2006 4:15:28 PM , Rating: 2
In the U.S., there are no availability issues at all for diesel. There are enough vehicles in the fleet, both cars and trucks, that diesel is easy to come by.

The main advantage that diesel had in times passed was that it used to cost quite a bit less per gallon than gasoline. But refiners, distributors, and retailers have erased that price advantage entirely. So I see little benefit to diesel personally.

By rushfan2006 on 10/27/2006 4:28:21 PM , Rating: 2
Your other points aside, but the availability one isn't entirely correct. This isn't my opinion either - its FACT.

There are plenty of stations I pass by even here in Jersey that don't offer diesel, not many mind you - but some....However when I take the once every 4 year trip to Ohio from here...there are many many stations that don't offer diesel along my six hour drive.

By rushfan2006 on 10/27/2006 4:31:00 PM , Rating: 2
Btw if you wonder how I'd remember that...well because the last Ohio trip we took my brother in law's "dualy pickup" and that is diesel, and yes we ran out of fuel. ;)

By Kherberos on 10/27/2006 5:28:13 PM , Rating: 2
Well, I live in Europe and my car is doing +1000 km with 55 l of diesel, I belive this must be around 45 mpg. So a 6 hours trip is not really a problm, with that kind of mielage you can drive 10 hours without filling up the tank :-) (ok this true only if you do 70-80 mph on average)

Now, because of the high compression ratio, a diesel engine is theoreticaly able to "burn" almost anything, from alcool to any kind of vegetable oil (colza, tournesol,...)
So if you can t find a station with a diesel pump, just go to the local Wallmart and buy a few gallons of deep frying oil :-)

By Madellga on 10/28/2006 2:15:56 AM , Rating: 2
Don't do that, you are going to damage your engine and other components like filters, which were not made to handly different oils.

It might work for a while, but it will clog your engine.
And don't fill in alcohol......

By Lonyo on 10/27/2006 5:11:34 PM , Rating: 2
Greater fuel efficiency isn't a benefit?

By TomZ on 10/27/2006 9:24:19 PM , Rating: 2
Depends on the cost of diesel relative to gasoline, now doesn't it?

By semo on 10/28/2006 8:34:58 PM , Rating: 2
the difference in cost between gasoline and diesel isn't significant wherever you are (it's a little cheaper in some parts of the world, more expensive in others).

diesel engines are more efficient than gasoline engines.

a 1.9tdi audi a6 (chipped for 170bhp) with 3500lbs curb weight can get 50mpg easy.

diesel powered engines also have more torque than gasoline equivalents.

By semo on 10/28/2006 11:57:26 AM , Rating: 2
the main advantages of diesel (when used in a diesel engine) are
1: better mpg than a similarly sized gasoline engine
2: better torque than a similarly sized gasoline engine

not that it used to cost less in a particular part of the world.

audi were close to making the 100mpg car. too bad no one bought it and no new model was made

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

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