A new partnership between Ford, automaker FCA US LLC and the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory could lead to more efficient engines on the road. Announced this week, the research collaboration will explore technical concepts and development of engines that will simultaneously use natural gas and traditional gasoline.
“The fact that two major players in the auto industry are partnering with Argonne on this project really shows the promise of this approach,” said project director Thomas Wallner. “The assumption here is that if you blend the fuels properly, you can make substantial gains in efficiency.”
The research project aims to create an engine using both natural and conventional gas simultaneously. While vehicles using both fuel types already exist, they typically use only one at a time. Mixing natural gas with gasoline would allow engines to run without fuel enrichment and with optimal spark timing, enabling higher engine efficiency and minimizing conditions that might cause engine damage.
“Innovation in Ford powertrain research is constantly progressing,” said Tom McCarthy, chief engineer at Ford Powertrain R&A. “This project provides the opportunity to advance alternative fuel technology, particularly the technical challenges and potential of natural gas direct injection, and its integration with the gasoline fuel system in dual-fuel strategies.”
Project developers hope to demonstrate the plausibility of an engine that uses half the amount of gasoline and potentially shows a 10 percent increase in both overall efficiency and improvement in power density.
“FCA is committed to the exploration and development of promising engine technologies that will help improve efficiency, reduce emissions and benefit society,” said Chris Cowland, FCA US Director-Advance and SRT Powertrain Engineering.
Ford’s involvement in this project contributes to its commitment to “Smart Mobility,” using innovation to advance fuel efficiency and new models of connectivity and car sharing. The research also follows new fuel-efficiency standards recently proposed by the US EPA and Department of Transportation, recent hydrogen fuel cell vehicle innovations from Toyota, and a fuel-efficient long haul drive tire from Goodyear.