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Click above for a high-res gallery of the Lotus Exige 270E Tri-Fuel

Lotus Engineering has been hard at work developing new engine technologies that allow the use of sustainable alcohol fuels. It's recent Exige 270E Tri-Fuel concept showed that the British firm knows how to make an engine run on various fuels, including gasoline, ethanol and methanol. In fact, the 270E Tri-Fuel concept was the most powerful Exige ever conceived by the Hethel-based company and made its highest power output using synthetic methanol fuel. Lotus has started a new research project called the OMNIVORE engine -- cleverly indicating that it will run on anything -- that uses a single cylinder with direct injection and a variable compression ratio in order to maximize power and efficiency while running on various alcohol fuels. The higher octane rating of alcohol fuels will allow the engine to run with higher compression, thereby offering more power, while also toning itself down to run on lower-grade fuels as well. Read the press release after the break for more details.

[Source: Lotus]


Lotus to develop OMNIVORE Research Engine

Lotus conduct research study into engine efficiency when utilising sustainable second and third generation bio fuels

Lotus Engineering, the world renowned automotive consultancy division of Lotus announces a collaboration with Queen's University Belfast and Jaguar Cars Ltd to develop an engine which maximises fuel efficiency when running on renewable fuels. The OMNIVORE concept will employ novel engine architecture to achieve a high thermal efficiency when fuelled on any alcohols or gasoline.

The project is sponsored by Defra (Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs) and the DOE NI (Department of the Environment Northern Ireland) through the Renewable Materials LINK Programme. Lotus Engineering is currently undertaking a design study and the build of a single cylinder research engine for completion in January 2009. Vehicle modelling will validate the reduction in vehicle CO2 emissions. Queen's University of Belfast's School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering will be adding its world leading expertise in engine simulation, with Jaguar Cars Ltd a consultative partner at all stages of development.

This engine design is expected to significantly increase fuel efficiency for sustainable bio alcohol fuels. The architecture features an innovative variable compression ratio system and uses a two-stroke operating cycle with direct fuel injection. The OMNIVORE engine will be ideally suited to flex-fuel operation with a higher degree of optimisation than is possible with existing architectures.

Mike Kimberley, Chief Executive Officer of Group Lotus Plc said: "The automotive industry is now focusing on its environmental obligations to reduce CO2 emissions and improve efficiencies and we are seeing the high technology capabilities of Lotus Engineering being in strong demand. Not only does our brand value of 'performance through light weight' fit perfectly with the necessary direction of the industry to produce lighter, more efficient vehicles, we are also working on all aspects of future fuels, investigating alternative powertrains to accommodate alcohol fuels as they enter the market."

Kimberley continues: "Alcohols possess superior combustion characteristics to gasoline which allow greater optimisation. Taking full advantage of the benefits of sustainable bio alcohols will ensure a greater percentage of vehicle miles will be travelled using renewable fuels. We are delighted with the investment from DEFRA which will assist this partnership in taking forward research development and the demonstration of this environmentally
conscious transport solution."

The OMNIVORE programme complements the recently unveiled Lotus Exige 270E Tri-fuel as part of Lotus' research to understand the complex combustion process involved in running on mixtures of alcohol fuels and gasoline, which will be important for a successful transition from today's fuels to the sustainable, synthetic fuels of the future.

Geraint Castleton-White, Head of Powertrain at Lotus Engineering said: "The requirement to operate on gasoline in today's flex-fuel engines limits their thermal efficiency when operating on alcohol fuels. However, the physical and chemical properties of alcohols, when compared to gasoline, provide the potential for higher thermal efficiency operation to be achieved. This single-cylinder research engine will investigate a highly thermal efficient combustion system that optimises engine performance to fully exploit the properties of both gasoline and alcohol fuels and maximise efficiency."

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      If they can make it not sound like a can of bees, I'd take one in a 4-wheeler. 350cc of badassery.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Sounds like the alcohol fuel would also do the job of lubrication that previously required oil to be added to a gasoline fuel two stroke? Otherwise, I couldn't see how this would be valuable to the current market where everything has to be very green/reducing CO2. On the other hand, they could be trying to perfect variable compression ratio technology on a simpler two stroke before applying it to a four stroke.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Alcohol has the opposite effect on lubrication. If you are going to run it in a four stroke motor you have to put in pre-mix or a top-end lube because the alcohol washes off the cylinder walls. I really like the idea of companies going in all kinds of directions looking for fuel economy and clean burning engines, and this is just another one.
      • 7 Years Ago
      how about a 2 cycle supercharged VW!

      last vid on this page.


      • 7 Years Ago
      @Yar -- Yeah, I can imagine it. It'll sound like a Jackyl symphony playing "The Lumberjack".
      • 7 Years Ago
      If they pull this off, it'll be awesome. Seems like lubrication will be a big challenge.
      • 7 Years Ago
      How does direct injection make 2 stroke engines more efficient than 4 strokes, plus also be cleaner? Not disputing the claims, I'm just curious about the physics/chemistry of it.

        • 7 Years Ago
        It cleans up the 2-stroke cycle by not mixing the fuel and the oil until it gets into the cylinder, plus it makes sure that no unburned fuel can escape through the exhaust "valve" (a hole, really). Basically, everything gets burned completely. Now, is it cleaner than a normal Fuel Injected 4-Stroke? Yes. Is it cleaner than a Direct Injected 4-Stroke? I have no idea.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Wow this is freaking sweet! Imagine this little engine in a motorcycle or a formula car. O the glorious possibirities!
      • 7 Years Ago
      Single Cylinder?

      I realize that two stroke motors can make a ton of HP relative to their displacement (at least compared to similarly sized 4-strokes), but wouldn't it make more sense to put at least 2 cylinders to that the motor doesn't sound like a chainsaw on crack?
        • 7 Years Ago
        Although it is two-stroke. Still, I'd expect at least two two-stroke cylinders to end up with some semblance of smoothness. All that really matters are ignition points per driveshaft revolution.
        • 7 Years Ago
        It's most likely for applications where single-cylinder engines are normally used, such as scooters.
        • 7 Years Ago
        It's also just a research prototype - a single cylinder is easier to deal with than four or more. A production model would probably have more - though, hell, a two-stroke's output is such that you could probably be getting a pretty healthy output from a small engine.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Snark has it right. Most research engines are single cylinder. It is much easier to fully optimize the combustion process when you only have one combustion chamber to deal with. Then they scale the technology up to 2, 4, 6, and 8 cylinder applications.
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