This information will not come as a shock to our readers, but I thought that I would go ahead and share the story with you anyway. As you are well aware, turbocharging an internal combustion engine can lead to higher power output by adding additional oxygen into the engine. This has been used to great effect on street and race cars for a long time now. I'm sure you are also aware that raising the compression of an engine also has the effect of raising the engine's power output. One hardship to overcome with turbocharging an engine that already has a high compression is the octane level of the gasoline. As the power output of the engine increases, and additional gasoline and air (fuel) are burned, the heat generated raises as well. In extreme cases, the fuel will ignite before intended, causing what many refer to as knocking. Pretty normal stuff here, I know. Anyway, by using what is known as direct injection, the chances of knocking are reduced. Audi and Volkswagen have been doing this as of late on their gasoline engines. Diesel engines have also been making use of this technology.
Here is where the information gets a bit more interesting. Regular readers may remember some of our past articles related to the performance potential of ethanol. Because ethanol burns cooler than gasoline, the compression of an engine designed to run solely on ethanol can be raised. By combining this characteristic with direct injection and turbocharging, researchers at MIT have been able to vastly increase the power output of small engines. The engines use gasoline through standard fuel injection, with a separate direct injection system for the ethanol. The benefits include saved weight over a comparably powerful, less advanced engine, and possibly lower cost. Check the article out here for more information.
Overall, the concepts introduced in this article are not new. Combining them into a single working engine may be, however. I can't specifically recall the use of direct ethanol injection into an engine running on normal gasoline. If you are aware of anything similar, why not let us know about it in the comments?
[Source: Technology Review via Edmunds Inside Line]