Sunday, January 06, 2008

Turbo, direct injection combo could make ethanol a fuel economy winner

Ford Motor Company has announced a major initiative to put a new engine design in a wide range of cars and trucks starting with model year 2009. Dubbed Ecoboost, the new design combines turbo boosting and direct injection, allowing a small engine to produce the same power and performance as a much larger engine. This article from Associated Press mentions the ecoboost engines will be "ethanol compatible." I assume this means they would be E85 compatible. If so, this is big news. If done properly, this kind of engine could actually get better fuel economy on E85 as compared to ethanol-free gasoline, thanks to the very high octane of ethanol. This concept is described in my book, Sustainable Ethanol, and on some of my previous blogs on EnergyAnswers. MIT developed an ethanol direct injection concept and I believe they were working with Ford. I can't find any mention of whether the Ecoboost in particular would do better on E85, but if it did, that would be a big boost for ethanol use. E85 is less expensive than standard gasoline in many areas of the country. If it provided equivalent or better fuel economy, that would be a huge incentive for motorists to seek it out and for more fuel station owners to begin offering E85 as an option.

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