Technology Provider Hopes to Strike Balance on Diesel Engine

Diesel engines have long domin­ated the heavy-duty truck market because of their performance characteristics, but they also generate a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Alternative fuels, on the other hand, don’t always pack the same powerful punch as diesel-fueled engines or face other challenges and limitations. But ClearFlame Engine Technologies is working to develop a diesel engine that runs on cleaner fuel without compromising performance.

Co-founders BJ Johnson and Julie Blumreiter launched the Geneva, Ill.-based startup in 2016 and recently began working with engine manufacturer Cummins Inc. on a pilot project demonstrating the technology. In addition, the U.S. Department of Energy recently awarded ClearFlame a two-year, $1.1 million Small Business Innovation Research program grant to support continued research and development.

ClearFlame aims to maintain the traditional diesel engine design to ensure the practicality and convenience that diesel-burning engines offer while reducing emissions by burning cleaner fuels including ethanol, methanol or natural gas. The technology would still provide the high amounts of torque and transient response found in traditional diesel engines.­