Detroit, Michigan – Engine development company Ricardo has announced the development of technology that optimizes the fuel economy of ethanol-fuelled engines. The company said that the technology, called Ethanol Boosted Direct Injection (EBDI), exceeds gasoline engine efficiency and approaches levels previously reached only by diesel engines.

Work on the research project was carried out at Ricardo’s Detroit Technology Campus in Michigan.

“Developing renewable energy applications that can lead to energy independence is a top priority at Ricardo,” said president Dean Harlow. “We’ve moved past theoretical discussion and are busy applying renewable energy technology to the real world. The EBDI engine project is a great example because it turns the gasoline-ethanol equation upside down. It has the performance of diesel, at the cost of ethanol, and runs on ethanol, gasoline, or a blend of both.”

Current flex-fuel engines pay a fuel economy penalty of about 30 per cent compared to gasoline when operated on ethanol blends such as E85. The EBDI substantially improves ethanol’s efficiency at a level comparable to a diesel engine.

“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 vapourization,” said Rod Beazley, director of Ricardo’s Gasoline Product Group. “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.”

The prototype EBDI is a 3.2-litre V6 engine that will be installed into a dual-wheel pickup truck demonstration vehicle later this year. The project represents a technical collaboration with Behr, Bosch, Delphi, Federal Mogul, GW Castings, and Honeywell.

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