Biofuels offer Americans viable domestic, environmentally sustainable alternatives to gasoline and diesel. Learn about the basics, benefits, and issues to consider related to biodiesel and ethanol on the Alternative Fuels Data Center. The Vehicle Technologies Office supports research to increase our knowledge of the effects of biofuels on engines and optimize their efficiency.
VTO supports highly applied research that affects vehicles currently on the road in three major categories:
- Testing how intermediate ethanol blends (15-20 percent ethanol) affect conventional vehicles' emissions and performance
- Improving the efficiency of alternative fuel vehicles, including flexible fuel vehicles using E85 (up to 85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline)
- Improving the quality of biofuel blends
Other research includes analyzing alternative fuel use in other countries to help us learn from their experience as the United States builds its alternative fuel infrastructure.
VTO also supports research to improve our understanding of the chemistry and interactions of biofuels with internal combustion engines. This work includes:
- Developing detailed kinetic reaction models to better describe components of advanced biofuels and then testing and tuning these models to illustrate what happens when the biofuel is used in an engine.
- Characterizing the chemical products that result from the combustion of biofuels.
- Investigating how biofuels affect emission control devices and efficiency-improving technologies.
- Exploring how ethanol will affect today's advanced technology direct-injection spark-ignition light-duty engines as well as future engines in collaboration with our research on Advanced Combustion Engines.
- Supporting the creation of a database describing the characteristics of new, unique and emerging fuels, as well as tools to screen them.
- Researching biofuels compatibility with existing refueling infrastructure, especially fuel dispensers