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Cummins announces development of E-85 engine

15 July 2014

Cummins announced the development of a medium-duty engine fueled with E-85—a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. This appears to be the first-ever gasoline technology development project for Cummins, a company traditionally focused on diesel and natural gas engines. The work is supported by a $2.7 million grant from the California Energy Commission (CEC).

More than 1,000 miles and 1,500 hours have been accumulated on the ETHOS (ETHanol Optimized System) 2.8 L engine over the past two-and-a-half years. A final on-road validation testing phase has been underway in the Sacramento, California, area since June. The engine and powertrain were able to reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 80% compared with a baseline gasoline-powered medium-duty truck, said Cummins.

The above CO2 emission reduction figure is based on the estimated life-cycle emission reduction for “second-generation lignocellulosic-derived E-85”—a hypothetical, not commercially available biofuel. The use of corn ethanol would result in an estimated 50-58% lower well-to-wheels CO2 emissions. No particulars were provided on the actual fuel consumption of the new engine.

The Cummins ETHOS 2.8 L is designed specifically to use E-85 fuel. To take full advantage of the favorable combustion attributes and potential of E-85, the engine operates at diesel-like cylinder pressures and incorporates advanced spark-ignition technology, said Cummins. It delivers the power (up to 250 hp) and peak torque (up to 450 lb-ft) of gasoline and diesel engines nearly twice its 2.8-liter displacement.

The Cummins ETHOS 2.8 L engine also incorporates an integrated stop-start system. The system controls, along with a robust starter, smart alternator and sensors, are designed to handle the additional stop-start duty cycle and maintain reliable operation over the life of the engine. Cummins also worked closely with Allison Transmission® to integrate the 2000 Series transmission for efficient stop-start operation.

Additional partners in the project included Valvoline®, which provided NextGen® engine oils specifically designed for lower CO2 emissions, and Freightliner Custom Chassis, which provided a prototype MT45 Class 5 step-van vehicle.

E-85 is hardly a promising fuel for the future—the US Renewable Fuel Standard is subject to a political debate, and the CAFE credit for FFV (E-85 capable) vehicles has been eliminated effective from MY 2016. The interest in gasoline engine technology could be driven in part by the high cost of diesel emission systems in Tier 4 nonroad engines—in several nonroad applications, such as those where equipment is operated over a small number of hours, gasoline engines are a viable replacement for the more expensive Tier 4 diesel engines.

Source: Cummins