New Engine 'Breakthrough' Improves Ethanol Efficiency in Flex-Fuel Vehicles

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Leave aside land-use concerns, the effect on the food supply, or any other concerns you may have about ethanol for the next few paragraphs, because this post has nothing to do with those. It has to do with another of the problems ethanol faces: Reduced engine efficiency in flex-fuel vehicles. Engineering firm Ricardo has announced that it has tackled that problem, achieving a "breakthrough efficiency for ethanol-fueled engines": Ethanol Boosted Direct Injection Could Replace SUV Engine
The technology is called Ethanol Boosted Direct Injection and, according to Ricardo, "solves many of the challenges faced by flex-fuel engines" in terms of reduced fuel efficiency when running on ethanol. The prototype EBDI engine is a 3.2-liter V6 which ultimately could replace a large gasoline or turbo-diesel engine in an SUV. This prototype—which it is claimed achieves the efficiency of a diesel engine, at the cost of a gasoline engine, and runs on ethanol, gasoline or a blend of both—will be installed into a dual-wheeled pick-up truck demonstration vehicle later this year.

Rod Beazley, director of Ricardo's Gasoline Product Group:

The combination of technologies we're applying to the EBDI engine make the most of ethanol's advantages over other fuels, which include a higher octane rating and a higher heat of vaporization. Without getting too technical, this means we can use a high level of turbocharging to achieve the high cylinder pressures that ethanol enables. Add in some other advanced technologies such as direct injection, variable valve timing, optimized ignition and advanced exhaust gas recirculation, and we're squeezing out more power than is possible with gasoline.

More: Ricardo Inc. (press release)

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