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)