Ricardo, Inc., Says Advanced Spark-Ignited Boosted Engines Will Make Inroads into Diesel Segments


VAN BUREN TWP., Mich., Aug. 4, 2009 /PRNewswire/ – By 2015, advanced spark-ignited engines have the potential to become a major force in diesel-dominated medium-duty commercial truck and off-road segments, including agricultural and construction vehicles, Ricardo, Inc., Vice President John Pinson told participants in the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2009 Directions in Engine-Efficiency and Emissions Research (DEER) conference, which is being held in Dearborn, Mich., Aug. 3-6.

“The technology now exists to build spark-ignited engines that can deliver performance, economy and durability that are competitive with diesel for a broad cross-section of applications. What will convince manufacturers and customers to switch are the lower cost and straightforward design of these powertrains,” Pinson told the DEER attendees during the New Directions in Engines and Fuels panel discussion. “Adopters of the technology will be able to meet emissions regulations at a lower cost and offer their customers a compelling value proposition.”

For more than a decade, the DEER Conference has been the Department of Energy’s main forum for regulators, academics and engineers to exchange information on advanced combustion engine research and development. At DEER, Ricardo is showcasing a 3.2-liter V-6 Ethanol-Boosted Direct Injection (EBDI) prototype, which is capable of operating on gasoline or up to 100 percent ethanol.

“The EBDI engine is focused on delivering optimal performance from any gasoline blend based on octane and / or ethanol content. The engine has overachieved its low speed torque performance goals on both ethanol and gasoline,” said Rod Beazley, Vice President of Spark Ignited Engines at Ricardo. “This represents an archetypal change when considering the low speed torque output of the gasoline engine compared to the diesel engine – in actual fact the gasoline engine far outperforms the diesel in terms of specific torque performance, or BMEP.”

Beazley, who will present a technical paper on the collaborative EBDI research program at DEER, said Ricardo is able to reduce displacement by 25-50 percent while delivering not only torque that’s competitive with direct-injection diesels in a spark-ignited engine, but fuel economy as well. “The diesel and gasoline engine are converging in terms of base engine architecture, however the cost structures for the after-treatment and fuel systems are hugely different (between gas and diesel),” said Beazley. “In certain applications the cost and fuel economy values converge to make spark ignited engines an extremely competitive option.”

At the same time, EBDI technology relies on well-established three-way catalyst after-treatment technology instead of costly, complex and bulky diesel systems, such as particulate filters and SCR catalysts now required by many on- and off-road diesel applications to meet EPA emissions legislation. The gasoline engine allows for more straightforward OBDII diagnostic compliance due to the reduction in multiple after-treatment components and sensors. The EBDI solution features a high energy ignition system that does not require a two-fuel (diesel – gasoline) system, which has been suggested as an alternative. Additionally the technology requires only a single direct injector per cylinder as opposed to the more complex and costly dual injection (DI – PFI) options that are also currently under development.

There are other significant practical benefits as well:

  • Engineers packaging powertrain solutions on off-road vehicles such as tractors and backhoes won’t be forced to compromise operator sight lines in order to fit after-treatment components into existing vehicle designs.
  • With the much smaller after-treatment package on a spark-ignited engine, there are significant thermal advantages over a diesel engine of comparable performance.
  • Medium-duty commercial truck builders, who were required to adopt clean diesel technology to meet 2010 emissions requirements, will be able to reduce their variable costs and potentially wholesale and retail prices by moving to less complicated EBDI designs.

“Ricardo already is mapping out a technology plan that will yield even more improvements in fuel economy, emissions and power,” Beazley said.

“The greatest immediate challenge EBDI technology must overcome is the comfort level engine builders and customers have with diesel,” Pinson said. “For many applications, the practical benefits for engineers and operators will be hard to ignore.”

Ricardo at DEER

Ricardo will be making technical presentations on advanced engine roadmaps, EBDI and diesel powertrain improvements at DEER. Abstracts will be available at www.Ricardo.com immediately following the conference on August 6, 2009.

About Ricardo

Ricardo, the Eco-Innovation Technology Company, is a leading independent provider of technology, product innovation, engineering solutions and strategic consulting to the world’s clean energy, military, transport, automotive and power industries. The company’s skill base represents the state-of-the-art in low emissions and fuel-efficient powertrain technology, and can be best summarized: “Ricardo is Fuel Economy.” Ricardo offers TVFE(TM), its Total Vehicle Fuel Economy engineering service, to transportation manufacturers and related government agencies worldwide to provide objective evaluation of all available technologies to identify the most cost-effective strategies to accomplish fuel economy and CO2 goals.

With technical centers and offices throughout Europe, the United States and Asia, Ricardo provides engineering expertise ranging from vehicle systems integration, controls and electronics, and hardware and software development to the latest driveline and transmission systems and gasoline, diesel, hybrid and fuel cell powertrain technologies. Ricardo’s customers include the world’s major automakers and suppliers as well as manufacturers in the military, commercial, off-highway and clean energy sectors. The company also serves in advisory roles to governmental and independent agencies. Ricardo’s U.S. operation, Ricardo, Inc., is headquartered in Van Buren Township, Michigan. Ricardo PLC posted sales of $394 million in financial year 2008 and is a constituent of the FTSE TechMark 100 index – a group of innovative technology companies listed on the London Stock Exchange. For more information, visit www.ricardo.com.

Source: Ricardo, Inc.

CONTACT: Media, Frank Buscemi of The Quell Group, +1-248-649-8900,
fbuscemi@quell.com; or Anthony Smith of Ricardo Media Office, +44 1273 382710,

Web Site: http://www.ricardo.com