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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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RE: Why?
By mindless1 on 10/28/2006 6:15:45 PM , Rating: 2
North Americans live in the new world, one that has larger expanses and was rapidly built (and still is). It is reasonable to assume trucks and other hauling vehicles will be of benefit. Relatively speaking, what is the horsepower to weight ratio of the typical light truck to a European car? Not so different as you suggest, relatively speaking it's a proporitionally sized engine, not the biggest most powerful thing that can be shoehorned in under the hood.

Sure there are exceptions like the Hummer. Tell us what % of all cars on the road are hummers.

You want desperately to cite examples of large things but ignore any examples of small things. What about Ford Fiesta? Piece of junk car, but I'll bet those sold as well as hummers. What about small sized anything?

All you have done is noted that in a free market with a lot of disposible income, people will buy more.

Just because somebody offers a big something-or-other for sale, does it mean everyone buys it? Certainly not, the things that don't sell so well tend to be the ones that need advertising, if not merely the profit leaders by virtue of the higher price.

Maybe some "go big", in any country when they can afford to, but to generalize Americans do is a silly stereotype.

RE: Why?
By slunkius on 10/30/2006 1:11:43 AM , Rating: 2
got to agree with kruege311. since i live in europe, it very easy to notice which cars are american. these are longer, wider, sometimes they are simply huuuge (escalade or dodge ram - and don't say people in america buy these to haul stuff :)).

RE: Why?
By Ringold on 10/30/2006 7:42:32 PM , Rating: 2
Mindless1 has hit the nail on the head on this one guys.

I don't think people that'd disagree are actually in tune with even the simplest things going on in the industry. Ford and GM arent staring in to the abyss just because of labor costs. Market share is sliding, and even the venerable F150 is getting nailed in the most recent quarter. Meanwhile, fuel-efficient Toyota & Honda models can barely be produced fast enough.

Anyones guess what the next long-term trend will be in autos (efficiency, or perhaps technical superiority or just plain style), but just like the economy we're all comfortable with now and from the last hundred years, it's over and something else is dawning. Might as well get used to it.

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad
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