Company says its engine can best harness ethanol fuel
Ricardo Inc. is testing its Ethanol Boost Direct Injection (EBDI) engine in two GMC Sierra 3500HD pickup trucks, and says that while the engine runs at its best on a blend of 30 to 50 percent ethanol, it can run the gamut from all gasoline to all ethanol. (Typically, companies have not built engines designed to run on all-ethanol fuel; even so-called "flex fuel" vehicles, which use a blend of 85 percent ethanol, are typically standard gasoline engines with specialized fuel-system components built to stand up to ethanol's higher corrosive effects.) Ricardo says the engine is fit for use in everything from compacts to Class-6 trucks.
According to the company, while the standard V6 engine in the Sierra gets about 12.7 mpg on gasoline and about 12.1 mpg on pure ethanol, on an optimum blend of fuel the engine could push 15 mpg. One major obstacle to market readiness for the engine, however, is that that "optimum blend" of fuel isn't available for sale. Currently, the U.S. offers E85 (85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline) and E10 (90 percent gasoline and 10 percent ethanol).
Frankly, we're no fans of ethanol as an alternative fuel (Lawrence Ulrich summed up our feelings succinctly here) and we're not sure it has enough staying power -- despite the powerful lobbying interests of Big Agriculture -- to make Ricardo's business model viable. Expect a closer examination in the next day or so.
(Sources: Detroit Free Press, USA Today.)
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