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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 Comdrpopnfresh on 10/27/2006 6:25:59 PM , Rating: 2
Its not an ethanol-powered engine. Its a gasoline powered engine with a turbocharger, to make it smaller and lighter. The ethanol is kept in a separate tank to be directly injected whenever the gasoline is combusted prematurely, creating that "knock". This is because a property of ethanol is that when it enters a combustion engine operating at too high of a temperature, it expands, cooling the air+fuel mixture, and helping to increase the burning efficiency of the fuel. The MIT researchers estimated that the ethanol tank would only have to be refilled every three months or so. What kind of strictly ethanol engine does that sound like? They started the research, because, although the administration supports ethanol, there is barely enough to allow E10 mixtures throughout the nation, let alone the touted "E85". This is a bypass, for using ethanol while increasing the efficiency of a conventional gasoline engine.

By sdsdv10 on 10/27/2006 6:47:39 PM , Rating: 2
Uh, did I just say the same thing like 30 minutes eariler {the post directly above yours ;-) }?

No matter, hopefully it will eventually change the direction of the discussion back to the correct topic. Or maybe even get Brandon to update/correct the news item.

By sdsdv10 on 10/27/2006 6:50:33 PM , Rating: 2
Jeez, why to the comments jump around. Before posting my reply, this was at the bottom. Now it jumped to the middle. Oh well, down mod me if you must. :)

By tygrus on 10/27/2006 8:16:36 PM , Rating: 2
The deep fry oil from resturants and local gressy joe's should be recycled into biodiesel.
Note: You can't put vegetable oil straight into a diesel engine.
Although diesel engines may get around 80% more MPG compared to the petrol equivalent, the carbon content and energy density is about 80% more ie. 10L of petrol (gasoline) is same as 5.5L diesel. It's more complex comparing two different fuels than just MPG.
One of these days I'll investigate what's on the market and the new technology & engine variations. More oil would be saved with improvements to traffic flows and public transport.

By Comdrpopnfresh on 10/28/2006 4:49:01 PM , Rating: 2
Commercial oils are from fats, so at room temperature and below they congeal. Biodiesel only congeals below freezing.

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