Ricardo continues work on efficient engines for ethanol blends

By Susanne Retka Schill | July 03, 2013

Ricardo Inc. is both strong on ethanol blends and efficient engines. The U.K.-headquartered company President, Thomas Apostolos told attendees at the Ethanol Summit in Sao Paulo, Brazil, that Ricardo’s extreme boosted direct injection (EBDI) engine has the potential to deliver best-in-class efficiency for ethanol combustion.

Apostolos outlined a technology approach where an EBDI engine achieved diesel-like fuel efficiency from a spark-ignited engine. Torque performance characteristics were also similar to that of a diesel across a broad range of engine speeds, when running on E85.  "Ethanol fuel properties make it possible to match diesel efficiency,” Apostolos told the audience on June 28 in a session on the evolution of flex-fuel technology. “Ethanol and CNG together, in a dual-fuel direct injection application, offer a huge opportunity for the large and heavy duty engine industry." In addition, he noted Ricardo's long history and understanding of ethanol, with research in alcohol blended fuel dating back to the 1920s.  "Engines and ethanol are part of Ricardo's genetic makeup. We understand this industry, and continue to stay on the leading edge of developments in this area."

Earlier in June, an advanced combustion engine research project was announced where Ricardo will partner with the University of California-Berkeley, MIT, Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore and Sandia National Labs. The partnership will conduct collaborative research for the National Science Foundation and U.S. DOE initially centered on improving engine efficiency and lowering emissions of light- and heavy-duty vehicles running on gasoline/ethanol blends. The project will pioneer the use of partial fuel stratification and microwave-assisted spark plug technology that will enable low-temperature combustion engines to operate over the full load and speed range.

“This research will play an important role in developing the next generation of engine technologies as an important step towards achieving the EPA 2025 targets of 54.5 mpg for cars and trucks,” said Dr. Samveg Saxena, one of the investigators at UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab who authored the proposal.

“Our depth of experience with downsized, highly-boosted engines will play an important role in contributing insight for the development of this project,” Apostolos said. “There are a lot of talented and knowledgeable partners on this project, and we are thrilled to continue to be at the forefront of advanced engine technologies.”

Ricardo will provide its industry-leading testing and simulation capabilities for the second phase of the project, which will kick-off in early 2014 and operate out of the company’s Detroit Technical Center. During the testing phase, Ricardo will use its EBDI engine technology, which can deliver up to a 30 percent fuel economy and CO2 improvement compared with existing engines.

For an earlier story describing Ricardo’s EBDI technology click here.