Ricardo Technology Achieves Breakthrough Efficiency for Ethanol-fueled Engines

System surpasses gasoline efficiency, reaches near-diesel levels; reduces operational costs compared to current fuels

VAN BUREN TWP., Mich., Feb. 6 /PRNewswire/ — Ricardo, Inc., a leading independent engineering firm specializing in total vehicle fuel economy and efficiency, today revealed the development of technology that optimizes ethanol-fueled engines to a level of performance that exceeds gasoline engine efficiency and approaches levels previously reached only by diesel engines.

The technology, called Ethanol Boosted Direct Injection or EBDI, takes full advantage of ethanol’s best properties – higher octane and higher heat of vaporization – to create a truly renewable fuel scenario that is independent of the cost of oil.

“Developing renewable energy applications that can lead to energy independence is a top priority at Ricardo,” said Ricardo 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.”

EBDI solves many of the challenges faced by flex-fuel engines because it is optimized for both alternative fuels and gasoline. Current flex-fuel engines pay a fuel economy penalty of about 30 percent compared to gasoline when operated on ethanol blends such as E85. The EBDI engine substantially improves ethanol’s efficiency, and performs at a level comparable to a diesel engine.

“In real-world terms, these efficiencies mean that EBDI can reduce the actual cost of transportation when compared to fossil fuels, and it does it with a renewable resource – ethanol,” said 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.”

The prototype EBDI is a 3.2-liter V6 engine that ultimately could serve as a replacement for a large gasoline or turbo-diesel engine in a large SUV. The first firing of the engine & initial development is currently taking place and will be installed into a dual-wheel pick-up truck demonstration vehicle later this year.

Beazley emphasized that the technology is very scalable. Applications could reach far beyond the automotive and light-truck industry. “Imagine agricultural equipment that, in effect, burns what it harvests – corn, sugar cane or some other renewable substance. It could mean tremendous cost savings across many industries.”

This project represents a technical collaboration with Behr, Bosch, Delphi, Federal-Mogul, GW Castings and Honeywell, to further the advancement and commercialization of the EBDI project.

About Ricardo

Ricardo, the Eco-Innovation Technology Company, is a leading independent provider of technology, product innovation, engineering solutions and strategic consulting to the world’s automotive, military, transport and new energy industries. The company’s skill base represents the state-of-the-art in low emissions and fuel-efficient powertrain technology, and can be best summarized: “Ricardo is Fuel Economy.”

With technical centers and offices throughout Europe, the U.S. and Asia, Ricardo provides engineering expertise ranging from vehicle systems integration, controls & electronics, hardware and software development, to the latest driveline and transmission systems and gasoline, diesel, hybrid and fuel cell powertrain technologies.

Ricardo’s customers include the world’s major automakers and suppliers as well as manufacturers in the military, commercial, off-highway and clean energy sectors. The company also serves in advisory roles to governmental and independent agencies. Ricardo’s U.S. operation, Ricardo, Inc., is headquartered in Van Buren Township, Michigan. Ricardo plc posted sales of $394 million in financial year 2008 and is a constituent of the FTSE TechMark 100 index – a group of innovative technology companies listed on the London Stock Exchange. For more information, visit http://www.ricardo.com.

Ricardo offers TVFE(TM), its Total Vehicle Fuel Economy engineering service, to transportation manufacturers worldwide to provide objective evaluation of all available technologies to identify the most cost-effective strategies to optimize fuel economy and CO2 goals. For more information on TVFE, please visit http://www.totalvehiclefueleconomy.com.

[Via http://www.prnewswire.com]

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