A Compression Engine Fueled by Ethanol? Deere is Investing

Updated Nov 22, 2021
crop leaves
Deere ag tractors may one day help produce the crops that will enable compression-ignited engines to run on ethanol.
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Ethanol as a fuel is typically associated with spark-ignited engines, but John Deere is investing in a company that is developing technology to enable ethanol and other unconventional fuel sources to be used in compression-ignited engines.

In late October, Deere announced it had made an equity investment in ClearFlame Engine Technologies, a start-up dedicated to the development of clean engine technology including research into low-carbon fuels like ethanol and how they could be integrated into compression engines. Deere will also supply an engine to use in conceptual testing, which will help validate the technology currently under development by ClearFlame.

“We made this investment to stay on the leading edge of developments in renewable fuel technology,” said Pierre Guyot, senior vice president, John Deere Power Systems. 

"ClearFlame’s compression ignition engine technology has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions while continuing to provide the performance and durability our customers expect from John Deere engines. Compression ignition engines have a long life ahead in terms of both the current source of diesel and a wide variety of alternative fuel types,” said Guyot

“ClearFlame’s mission is to decarbonize the hardest-to-electrify sectors in a rapid and cost-effective way,” says BJ Johnson, ClearFlame CEO and founder. “Expanding our solution from heavy-duty trucking to agriculture and other off-highway markets delivers on that promise, offering significant sustainability and economic benefits that won't compromise engine performance.”

Using ethanol in place of diesel fuel in diesel engines significantly reduces carbon emissions. In addition, ethanol is widely available and can offer a high-efficiency, liquid fuel option. It would also benefit the many users of John Deere farm tractors who grow the corn that’s needed to make the ethanol.