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ORNL, Da Vinci Sign Licensing Agreement For Oil-Dilution Diagnostic Technology to Optimize Advanced Combustion Engines

UT-Battelle has licensed an Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) technology for analyzing automotive engine oil to Da Vinci Emissions Services, Ltd., a Texas firm that specializes in a broad suite of combustion engine lubrication and emissions testing services and equipment. UT-Battelle manages ORNL for the Department of Energy.

The licensed invention, known as “Laser-Induced Fluorescence Fiber Optic Probe Measurement of Oil Dilution by Fuel,” was developed by James E. Parks and William P. Partridge of the Fuels, Engines, and Emissions Research Group in ORNL’s Energy and Transportation Science Division. The oil-dilution diagnostic grew out of a successful and ongoing CRADA, or cooperative research and development agreement, partnership between ORNL and Cummins Inc. The work is sponsored by the Department of Energy’s Office of Vehicle Technologies.

The device uses fluorescence spectroscopy to determine the amount of fuel dilution in engine oil, which can occur as fuel-efficient engines are operated in advanced combustion modes to meet increasingly lower emissions regulations. The condition thins the oil, lowers the lubricating ability, and can lead to higher engine wear, increased oil consumption, and in extreme cases, engine failure. Fuel dilution also is associated with modern diesel particulate filters, injection systems, and use of biodiesel fuels.

The ORNL-developed fluorescence measurement system provides real-time feedback on the fuel level in oil to engineers so that fuel efficient and low emission engine calibrations can be developed that prevent oil dilution from occurring.

ORNL’s technique is faster, cheaper, and capable of detecting fuel contamination in lower amounts than other methods. Conventional techniques require sampling and sending the oil to an analytical lab, resulting in up to two days delay for results.

DOE supports the development of advanced combustion engines that provide high efficiency and low emissions, but better diagnostic tools are required to realize these technology improvements. This technology and its transfer to the private marketplace through Da Vinci will hasten development of these advanced engine systems that meet DOE goals.

—James E. Parks

The oil dilution probe was developed in the Fuels, Engines, & Emissions Research Center, a comprehensive laboratory for internal combustion engine technology and one of DOE’s National User Centers at ORNL.

Licensing this technology enhances Da Vinci’s ability to help engine manufacturers build more environmentally clean engines with reduced oil consumption, less catastrophic wear, no oil leakages, extended oil change intervals, less fouling of exhaust treatment systems, and fewer emissions.

—Da Vinci CEO Kent Froelund


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