An article in The MIT Technology Review describes a new engine design developed by Daniel Cohn, a senior research scientist and his colleagues at MIT, that could significantly improve fuel efficiency for cars and SUVs, at a fraction of the cost of today's hybrid technology.
The engine combines an engine with a higher compression ratio than normal with a turbocharger and direct injection of a small amount of ethanol the combustion chamber at just the right moment. MIT researchers estimate that an engine equipped with the new technology would have fuel economies that rivals hybrids but would only cost about $1,000 to $1,500 more than a conventional engine rather than the $3,000 to $5,000 additional costs for a hybrid. A vehicle that used an engine of this type would operate around 25 percent more efficiently than a vehicle with a conventional engine. Ethanol would be stored in its own small tank having to be refilled only once every few months.