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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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Main issue: distribution
By gkline on 10/27/2006 5:39:35 PM , Rating: 3
There are several issues with using ethanol as a primary fuel source. Yes, producing enough is one of those issues, although one that several researchers are investigating. There are methods to greatly increase the yield of ethanol from the same amount of bio-mass input.

That still leaves the issue of distributing the ethanol. Ethanol is very hydrophylic. Thus any distribution system must provide a way to keep water from building up in tanks and supply lines. This is not an issue for gasoline, which is NOT hydrophylic.

Also, consider this - for years, the US government has subsidized the farming industry, while telling them to LIMIT the amount of crops they grow. If we're going to subsiduze the industry, let's do so for production, not ani-production.

RE: Main issue: distribution
By number999 on 10/27/2006 6:21:50 PM , Rating: 2
Ethanol is very hydrophylic

This in itself is a problem, since water catalyses the oxidation/reduction reaction of iron and oxygen. ie.rust

RE: Main issue: distribution
By Madellga on 10/28/2006 3:18:59 AM , Rating: 2
Ask the brazilians. Old news there, you can find it in any gas station since 25 years.

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