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ClearFlame Engine Technologies takes aim at cleaning up diesel engines – TechCrunch

Diesel engines are the workhorses of freight transportation and agriculture — and by extension hold the economic system fed and effectively equipped. Additionally they have a grimy aspect.

The founders of ClearFlame Engine Technologies, a four-year-old startup primarily based in Geneva, Illinois, say they’ve discovered a technique to clear them up.

The corporate, which participated in TechCrunch Disrupt’s 2020 Startup Battlefield competitors, has developed a novel technique to get diesel model engines to function on renewable fuels like ethanol. The know-how primarily combines the efficiency advantages of the diesel engine design with the low prices and the low emissions related to these different fuels, co-founder and CEO BJ Johnson mentioned in a current interview with TechCrunch.

By changing 100% of the petroleum gasoline with a decarbonized gasoline like ethanol, ClearFlame says its know-how reduces web greenhouse gasoline emissions by a minimum of 40%, and reduces particulate matter and smog (NOx) to close zero ranges.

ClearFlame isn’t redesigning the diesel engine. As an alternative, Johnson and co-founder and CTO Julie Blumreiter have developed a technique to modify the interior elements of the engine to change its thermodynamics to have the ability to shortly ignite and combust decarbonized fuels. The corporate’s know-how means 80% to 90% of the diesel engine elements stay unchanged, in keeping with Johnson.

The upshot is a know-how that gives a quick and low value technique to scale back emissions, Johnson instructed TechCrunch. It’s the sort of answer that corporations may want as native, state and nationwide governments tighten emissions laws.

The know-how could be retrofitted into current older diesel engines or utilized to new engines which have but to be put in in vehicles or utilized in different industrial purposes. ClearFlame is aiming to work straight with the engine producer, which is able to nonetheless give the corporate entry to the secondary market as a result of each OEM has its personal aftermarket elements group, Johnson mentioned.

“We wish to leverage their provide chain, their means to scale and attain these markets, and the trusted title that comes with them,” Johnson mentioned, explaining the corporate’s reasoning for focusing on OEMs.

The know-how was first developed in a Stanford College lab, the place Blumreiter and Johnson earned their Ph.D. levels. At Stanford, they had been targeted totally on ethanol and methanol, that are easy liquid alcohols. Nonetheless, Johnson famous that additional analysis has proven that the identical idea works equally effectively on pure gasoline and ammonia.

“The massive distinction right here is that it’s a must to tweak the injection system if you wish to transfer away from a daily ambient liquid gasoline,” Johnson mentioned. “There’s only a ton of enterprise worth in with the ability to run an engine effectively and cleanly on a gasoline that simply sits in a glass at ambient situations, which is what these alcohols do.”

ClearFlame has already made headway with its know-how, together with touchdown partnerships and elevating capital. The corporate accomplished a proof-of-concept demonstration of their know-how on a Caterpillar engine at Argonne Nationwide Laboratory. ClearFlame can also be conducting an indication on a Cummins engine platform supported by funding from the Division of Vitality.

In April, ClearFlame introduced it raised $three million in a spherical led by CleanEnergy Ventures. The corporate has additionally landed a number of million {dollars} in grant cash, together with Small Enterprise Innovation Analysis awards from the Nationwide Science Basis, DOE and U.S. Division of Agriculture.

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Kirsten Korosec