Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Shrinking the fuel combustion engine

At MIT's Sloan Automotive Laboratory, Daniel Cohn (pictured above) stands behind an engine equipped with test instruments (in yellow) and an injection system that sprays fuel directly into the engine's combustion chambers.  Credit: Porter Gifford Researchers at MIT have found a way to make internal combustion engines three times more efficient than current engines.

"Both turbocharging and direct injection are pre-existing technologies, and neither looks particularly impressive. Indeed, used separately, they would lead to only marginal improvements in the performance of an internal-­combustion engine. But by combining them, and augmenting them with a novel way to use a small amount of ethanol, Cohn and his colleagues have created a design that they believe could triple the power of a test engine, an advance that could allow automakers to convert small engines designed for economy cars into muscular engines with more than enough power for SUVs or sports cars."

Though it's cheaper to use this new technology ($1,000 to $1,500 added to the cost of the current engine) than to build a hybrid system ($3,000 to $,5,000 additional), it seems a shame to continue our reliance on oil, even if they are employing the use of an ethanol supercharger. Researchers are hopeful that they might be able to get these engines into production as early as 2011.

A very well written, informative article:

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