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Ricardo Introducing Ethanol Boost Direct Injection Engine Technology

Ricardo, Inc. is introducing Ethanol Boosted Direct Injection (EBDI) technology to optimize flex-fuel engines to a level of performance the company says will exceed gasoline engine efficiency and approach levels previously reached only by diesel engines.

Current flex-fuel engines pay a fuel economy penalty of about 30% compared to gasoline when operated on ethanol blends such as E85. The EBDI technology takes full advantage of ethanol’s higher octane and higher heat of vaporization to “turn the gasoline-ethanol equation upside down”, according to Ricardo President Dean Harlow.

The 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.

EBDI is an internally-funded Ricardo effort, assisted by partner collaborator contributions. Ricardo says that the project is not an outcome of the DOE-funded project with Bosch and the University of Michigan announced in 2007 to implement an integrated hardware-software system that delivers gasoline-like fuel economy when operating on E-85. (Earlier post.)

Ricardo’s EBDI is not utilizing a secondary ethanol injection from a secondary tank as envisioned by Ethanol Boosting Systems and MIT. (Earlier post.)

EBDI combines advanced boosting to achieve the high cylinder pressure that ethanol enables, a variable valvetrain, and cooled high load EGR with advanced controls and calibration techniques to optimize performance of the engine regardless of the percentage of ethanol in the fuel in the tank—i.e., from E0 to E85 and all intermediate blends created by vehicle fueling.

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 and initial development is currently taking place and will be installed into a dual-wheel pick-up truck demonstration vehicle later this year.

Rod Beazley, director of Ricardo’s Gasoline Product Group emphasized that the technology is very scalable, with applications reaching beyond the automotive and light-truck industry.


  • Mark Christie et al. (2009) Parameter Optimization of a Turbo Charged Direct Injection Flex Fuel SI Engine (SAE 2009-01-0238, not yet published)



this is what e85 what should be from the beginning... fully taken advantage of... not being "compatible" like the big three were doing.


If the gasoline-ethanol equation is going to be turned upside down, does that mean that if currently E85 is 30% worse than regular pump gas, that it will 30% better? A 60% improvement? If so that is potentially revolutionary! Let's get a lot more of those cellulosic ethanol plants going!


In addition, if ethanol delivers an equal amount of energy per litre, it will produce much less CO2 per kW. (because ethanol is composed of one oxygen atom for every 2 carbon atoms, so producing about 30% less CO2 per burnt litre compared to gasoline.)


SAAB has had the BioPower (http://www.saabbiopower.co.uk/saabBioPower/) turbocharged engines out for several years utilizing the same concept. It's great that Ricardo has adopted and possibly even improved upon the idea of exploiting the higher octane and heat retention of Ethanol.


This is indeed the future wwe need to see for not only E-flex which could include sub e10, but also the (bio)deisel range and the LPG, petrol/ E-*.
Citroen have been selling some form of efficiency multi deisels for some years (while not an expert on these) Claim suitability to a range of deisel and bio deisel types with OPTMISED e, fficiency.
While many vehicles on the market are certified for a range of fuel types, the ability to adapt to various combinations is not yet comonly available.
While petrol lpg bi fuels have been around for decades, the ability to gain a maximal benefit is limited to ignition timing.
Till now. Variable valve timing Atkinson Millar cycle engines and direct injection along with incresingly sophisticated fuel senors and software analysis can allow one engine to adapt to optimally burn a wide range of fuels.
This is critical for smooth and efficient running on not only bio fuels, but also the range of petroleum based offerings that can be found in different coutries.

These engines will give better efficiency across the board.


The fact that ethanol is only 2/3 the energy of gasoline should still reflected in this engine.
However the advantage from higher compression and cleaner burn as well as reduced emissions will close the gap.
The point being that the same technology that benefits better combustion for alcohol fuels will benefit the petroleum fuels.
The alcohols benefit more because there are not a lot of high efficiency or purpose built engines out there and it is expected that a greater percentage of energy content can be practically realised.


Another point is that legislation for suv emissions is often well below passenger vehicles.
This and low expectations from owners for efficiency has been exploited by manufactures who show little inclination to offer more than legislation or consumers demand.
This is a taste of what we will see in passenger and small inc motorcycles if consumers insist.


I was never happy about Ethanol 'til now. Also, with
the expanding hybrid market, with 40 miles of EV
operation, you'll need less of it. One thing that still
concerns me a bit is water contamination of Ethanol.


Use Butanol instead of ethanol. It has a higher heating value close to that of gasoline is not miscible with water and has high octane all rolled into one.


Looks like this concept has no way to use much boost with low ethanol blends, and the USA can't produce enough ethanol to supply many vehicles with high-ethanol blends.  It also appears restricted to near-par fuel economy with gasoline.

The MIT system for ethanol boosting can achieve as much as a 30% reduction in overall fuel consumption using perhaps 5% ethanol.  The USA can supply 5% ethanol for the gasoline supply, making the ethanol boosting far more of potential fuel saver.

Davd Dorn

Ricardo's approach seems to be the same as that which
Scania in Sweden has been using for its bus engines for several years. They have a new hybrid bus using the new engine technolgy. Google "Scania series hybrid" will get to a PDF presentation of the new bus.


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