Ethanol fuel allows half-size engine

Ricardo and Growth Energy are to collaborate on a project to demonstrate that an engine fuelled by ethanol can provide an economic alternative to fossil fuel.

Two demonstrator vehicles will be produced incorporating Ricardo’s Ethanol Boosted Direct Injection (EBDI) engine technology, showing that even for larger vehicles, optimising ethanol combustion can enable engine downsizing of the order of 50 per cent.

Based on test work already carried out, Ricardo estimates that, using a downsized EBDI engine in place of currently available petrol powertrain technology, a fuel economy improvement of up to 30 per cent is possible with no loss of power or performance.

The project will use Ricardo’s EBDI flex fuel engine, developed from a production V6 petrol engine, to power two GMC Sierra 3500 HD pickup trucks, each with a curb weight of 6000lbs (2721kg).

Following completion of the ten-month project, the demonstrator vehicles will be available for a range of demonstration, test and evaluation exercises to be organised by Growth Energy and Ricardo.

Ricardo’s EBDI engine technology solves many of the shortcomings of current generation flex-fuel engines, which are typically only optimised for petrol operation and do not make full use of the properties of ethanol.

‘People are likely to be amazed with the performance and fuel economy that can be delivered from a comparatively small displacement engine running on a renewable fuel such as ethanol,’ said Rod Beazley, director of the Ricardo Spark Ignited Engines Product Group.