Date of Award


Document Type

Master's report

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics


Donna Michalek


The reserves of gasoline and diesel fuels are ever decreasing, which plays an important role in the technological development of automobiles. Numerous countries, especially the United States, wish to slowly decrease their fuel dependence on other countries by producing in house renewable fuels like biodiesels or ethanol. Therefore, the new automobile engines have to successfully run on a variety of fuels without significant changes to their designs. The current study focuses on assessing the potential of ethanol fuels to improve the performance of 'flex-fuel SI engines,' which literally means 'engines that are flexible in their fuel requirement.'

Another important area within spark ignition (SI) engine research is the implementation of new technologies like Variable Valve Timing (VVT) or Variable Compression Ratio (VCR) to improve engine performance. These technologies add more complexity to the original system by adding extra degrees of freedom. Therefore, the potential of these technologies has to be evaluated before they are installed in any SI engine. The current study focuses on evaluating the advantages and drawbacks of these technologies, primarily from an engine brake efficiency perspective. The results show a significant improvement in engine efficiency with the use of VVT and VCR together.

Spark ignition engines always operate at a lower compression ratio as compared to compression ignition (CI) engines primarily due to knock constraints. Therefore, even if the use of a higher compression ratio would result in a significant improvement in SI engine efficiency, the engine may still operate at a lower compression ratio due to knock limitations. Ethanol fuels extend the knock limit making the use of higher compression ratios possible. Hence, the current study focuses on using VVT, VCR, and ethanol-gasoline blends to improve overall engine performance. The results show that these technologies promise definite engine performance improvements provided both their positive and negative potentials have been evaluated prior to installation.