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by Mike Zazaian October 26, 2006 - 4:01pm, 10 Comments

MIT Ups MPG 30 Percent With Ethanol-Injected Engine

A new car engine developed by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology could boost fuel efficiency by as much as 30 percent with perfectly-timed injections of ethanol into the cylinders.

By suppressing conventional gas combustion within the cylinder with a shot of ethanol, scientists are able to achieve fuel efficiency on par with that of diesel engines. An injection of ethanol will allow a higher compression ratio, the ratio between the volume of the chamber before and after combustion, allowing gas to expand more and release more energy per molecule. The current prototype would situate gasoline and ethanol in separate tanks, mixing ethanol with the gasoline at regular intervals throughout the combustion cycle.

The ethanol boost would also eliminate the loud knocking sound associated with the spontaneous combustion of diesel engines, allowing manufacturers to squeeze both more air and fuel into a cylinder at a given time. The results of which would be an engine that has the quietness and environmental cleanliness of unleaded motors, but the greater efficiency and output of diesel.

Such an ethanol-pumped engine would also cost significantly less to implement than current hybrid motors, giving significantly better fuel economy for a fraction of the cost. While gas-electric hybrid engines currently add between $3,000 and $5,000 to the cost of a car, the MIT motor would cost only about $1,000 more. MIT’s engine is also only about half the size and weight of a standard engine, increasing performance and leaving more flexibility for car manufacturers in the design process. Said Daniel Cohn, an engineer at MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center:

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.

Cohn, along with colleagues Leslie Bromberg and John Heywood, has formed Ethanol Boosting Systems, a company aimed at developing the new technology. Ethanol Boosting Systems is currently working alongside Ford to implement the ethanol-injection system in future models.

Via cnet news