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Communications and External Relations
ORNL, Da Vinci sign licensing agreement
OAK RIDGE, Tenn.,
Oct. 20, 2009
An Oak Ridge National Laboratory technology for analyzing automotive engine oil has been licensed to a Texas firm that specializes in a broad suite of combustion engine lubrication and emissions testing services and equipment.
An ORNL technology for testing engine oil has been licensed to Da Vinci Emissions Services, Ltd. Pictured are ORNL Partnerships Director Tom Ballard and Da Vinci CEO Kent Froelund.
The technology transfer took place during a recent patent license signing ceremony between UT-Battelle and Da Vinci Emissions Services, Ltd. UT-Battelle manages ORNL for the Department of Energy; Da Vinci is a combustion engine emissions testing firm founded in 2005 in San Antonio.
The licensed invention, known as "Laser-Induced Fluorescence Fiber Optic Probe Measurement of Oil Dilution by Fuel," was developed by James E. Parks and William P. Partridge of the Fuels, Engines, and Emissions Research Group in ORNL's Energy and Transportation Science Division. The oil-dilution diagnostic grew out of a highly successful and ongoing CRADA, or cooperative research and development agreement, partnership between ORNL and Cummins Inc. The work is sponsored by the Department of Energy's Office of Vehicle Technologies.
The device uses fluorescence spectroscopy to determine the amount of fuel dilution in engine oil, which can occur as fuel efficient engines are operated in advanced combustion modes to meet increasingly lower emissions regulations. The condition thins the oil, lowers the lubricating ability, and can lead to higher engine wear, increased oil consumption, and in extreme cases, engine failure. Fuel dilution also is associated with modern diesel particulate filters, injection systems, and use of biodiesel fuels.
The ORNL-developed fluorescence measurement system provides real-time feedback on the fuel level in oil to engineers so that fuel efficient and low emission engine calibrations can be developed that prevent oil dilution from occurring.
ORNL's technique is faster, cheaper, and capable of detecting fuel contamination in lower amounts than other methods. Conventional techniques require sampling and sending the oil to an analytical lab, resulting in up to two days delay for results.
"DOE supports the development of advanced combustion engines that provide high efficiency and low emissions, but better diagnostic tools are required to realize these technology improvements," Parks said. "This technology and its transfer to the private marketplace through Da Vinci will hasten development of these advanced engine systems that meet DOE goals."
Da Vinci CEO Kent Froelund called the invention "a perfect fit" for his company, which specializes in internal combustion engine lubrication and emissions testing, such as providing engine manufacturers with real-time oil consumption measurements.
"Licensing this technology enhances Da Vinci's ability to help engine manufacturers build more environmentally clean engines with reduced oil consumption, less catastrophic wear, no oil leakages, extended oil change intervals, less fouling of exhaust treatment systems, and fewer emissions," Froelund said.
The oil dilution probe was developed in the Fuels, Engines, & Emissions Research Center, a comprehensive laboratory for internal combustion engine technology and one of DOE's National User Centers at ORNL.
For more information on Da Vinci Emissions Services, Ltd., please visit: www.davinci-limited.com .
For more about ORNL technology transfer, go to: http://www.ornl.gov/adm/partnerships.
To learn more about ORNL, go to: www.ornl.gov.
UT-Battelle manages Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the Department of Energy.