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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 sdsdv10 on 10/27/2006 5:54:05 PM , Rating: 2
Most here are arguing about the wrong thing. Brandon misrepresented the original article. This engine will not run on ethanol, but on gasoline. It was use small quantities of ethanol directly injected to cool the combustion chamber to allow the higher compression ratios described in the press release. A related water or methanol injection system has been used for many years in drag racing engines to produce more power. Please check the links. Here is a direct quote from the Cnet news article.

quote:
Gasoline and the ethanol would be kept in separate tanks.


However, this brings up another set of issues. Filling stations would have to have both gasoline and ethanol on tap. Not a major engineering problem, but a significant capital investment to change all stations over to some type of duel pump design.




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