Summary:

While we can dream about ultra-green cars like the Tesla populating the roads one day, a lot can be done to make more conventional cars more fuel efficient. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) says it plans to invest up to $21.5 million to do just […]

While we can dream about ultra-green cars like the Tesla populating the roads one day, a lot can be done to make more conventional cars more fuel efficient. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) says it plans to invest up to $21.5 million to do just that, and has selected eleven projects that are working on improving vehicle engine efficiency.

Seven of the projects will work on improving flex-fuel vehicles that can run on ethanol, three will focus on cleaner combustion engines, and one will study lubrication systems. The release issued by the DOE also says that “industry investment” will add to the DOE’s funds and bring investment in the projects to nearly $43 million — we’re waiting to here back from the DOE on more details about those additional funds. Update: A DOE spokesperson says that the companies that have been selected are adding roughly half of the total investment for their project.

Here’s the eleven projects that could help improve more traditional vehicle engines:

  • Delphi Automotive Systems, $2.2 million: For a vehicle with an E-85 optimized engine, hoping to yield up to 30 percent fuel efficiency improvement — working with Wayne State University.
  • Ford, $3.2 million: To explore the properties of ethanol with increased compression ratios to deliver smaller, more fuel efficient engines.
  • General Motors, $1.9 million: To develop a “cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) combustion prototype,” which allows for smaller engines without loss of engine power — working with Ricardo Inc.
  • Siemens Government Services, $3 million: For a turbocharged, direct-injection engine operating on E-85 to improve combustion and fuel economy and lower exhaust emissions — working with AVL Engineering and Rousch Engineering.
  • TIAX, $1.2 million: To develop a high-efficiency engine system for a flex fuel vehicle that is more efficient than a gas engine when operated with E85 or higher ethanol — working with Monsanto and John Deere.
  • Visteon Corporation, $2.3 million: To achieve gasoline-like fuel economy when using E-85 by minimizing system efficiency losses — working with DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory, Mahle Powertrain, and Michigan State University.
  • Caterpillar, $491,000: To develop an environmentally friendly lubricant additive for enhancing an engine’s fuel efficiency — working with DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory, NanoMech, and the University of Arkansas.
  • Cummins Engine Company, $2.4 million: To improve fuel efficiency of a light-duty diesel engine by 10.5 percent, while maintaining certain emission levels — working with Daimler-Chrysler and BP.
  • Ford, $1.3 million: To use “diesel-boosting technologies” to improve efficiency and performance of advanced, low-temperature combustion engines — working with ConceptsNREC, Wayne State University, and FEV Global.
  • Michigan State University, $2 million: To develop advanced, low-temperature combustion designs for diesel engines using biofuels — working with Ford.

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