MIT Working on Gasoline-Alcohol Engine for Plug-In Hybrid Heavy Duty Truck

Daniel Cohn (left) and Leslie Bromberg 1 photo
Photo: MIT Energy Initiative
Today’s efforts to go green in the auto industry are focused on transforming passenger and light-duty trucks and offering a wide range of electrification technologies for them. With very few notable exceptions, no one is really planning to do the same with heavy-duty trucks in the foreseeable future.
Yet ridding 18-wheelers of their diesel internal combustion engines might prove an even bolder move in the race to save the planet. At least, that’s what researchers at MIT seem to believe.

A team of engineers from the MIT Energy Initiative and the Plasma Fusion and Science Center will be presenting on April 11, at the SAE International conference, a concept of a truck engine that pairs rechargeable batteries with a spark ignition engine that can run on gasoline, ethanol, methanol, or a mix of the three.

The team, led by Leslie Bromberg and Daniel Cohn, has been working on the project for several years. Their solution is supposed to produce only a tenth as much nitrogen oxide compared to diesel engines, or even zero if the engine is made to run on pure methanol or ethanol coming from renewable sources.

“We’ve been working for a number of years on ways to make engines for cars and trucks cleaner and more efficient, and we’ve been particularly interested in what you can do with spark ignition because it’s intrinsically much cleaner,” said Leslie Bromberg according to MIT News.

At the moment, the biggest efforts to give this segment of the transportation industry the electrification bug are being made by Daimler and Tesla.

The Germans have a wide range of solutions currently being tested across the world, including full electric Freightliners.

Tesla, on the other hand, seems to have hit a snag with the Semi, that has all but disappeared from public view in recent months.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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