Robert has been awarded funding by the US Department of Energy (DOE) as a part of 11 research and development projects to improve the efficiency of light-duty vehicle engines. Bosch will collaborate with Ricardo and the University of Michigan for the development of an optimised flex-fuel vehicle (FFV) in this effort.

Bosch and its research partners will take a benchmark petrol-optimised engine with direct injection and turbo charging, and combine hardware modifications with novel sensing and control strategies to build a FFV capable of running on any blend of ethanol, up to E85, with fuel economy close to a conventional petrol-fuelled vehicle, which will meet United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and ultra low emissions vehicle (ULEV) regulations. The DOE award of approximately $US1.5m extends over the three-year project.

Ricardo will tap its expertise in engine design and engineering services to supplement the research and technology aspects of the FFV programme.

The University of Michigan will develop the methodology needed to swiftly estimate the ethanol content of a petrol-ethanol fuel blend and optimise the engine combustion for the detected fuel blend by adjusting all the critical degrees of freedom available in the engine control unit. The estimation and control development is based on models, and is augmented with feedback laws that ensure robustness to environmental uncertainties, engine component aging and rapid calibration.