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Omnivorous Engine Could Run on Gasoline, Ethanol, and Butanol

omnivorous engine

Wouldn’t it be nice to have car with an engine that would happily accept any fuel regardless of its origins? The US Department of Energy’s Argonne Laboratory is developing an engine that may make that dream a reality.

The lab is attempting to create an “omnivorous engine” that can run on any blend of gasoline, ethanol and butanol. And unlike flex-fuel engines currently on the market that use ethanol or gasoline, the omnivorous engine could theoretically run at peak efficiency regardless of the fuel mixture.

The omnivorous engine will use sensors to evaluate the characteristics of the fuels being used. If sensors determine that the engine isn’t running at peak levels, it will make adjustments to parameters like spark timing and injection strategy.

Since the lab’s approach is both simple and cost-effective, it can be rolled out for commercial use quickly. Argonne hasn’t released details of the engine’s release date, but it will be a welcome advance in vehicle technology.

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Written By

was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a senior editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine, and more. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.

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