Ethanol Diesel Nudges Closer to Market

ClearFlame Partners with North America's Largest Diesel Engine Remanufacturer

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Environmental Editor
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ClearFlame Engine Technologies announced partnerships to move its ethanol diesel engine technology closer to commercialization. (Photo courtesy of ClearFlame)

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- ClearFlame Engine Technologies announced on Tuesday a handful of what the company said are key partnerships to help the company meet its goal of commercializing its ethanol-diesel engine technology by the end of 2023.

ClearFlame signed memorandums of understanding with Reviva and Vander Haag's, Inc., to integrate the technology into a Class-8 truck, according to a news release. In addition, ClearFlame launched its first pilot fleet trial with Beck's, the largest family-owned retail seed company in the U.S. and third-largest seed brand.

Also, a coalition including Central Indiana Ethanol, CountryMark and Co-Alliance Cooperative Inc. have partnered to sell E98, a 98% ethanol blend, to Beck's to fuel the pilot. The ClearFlame engine can run on 98% ethanol straight off the rack or even on E85 so long as the fuel is close to 85% ethanol.

As part of ClearFlame's agreements for engine modification, Minneapolis-based Reviva will be integrating ClearFlame's kit into existing Cummins X15 engines that will carry two-year warranties.

Reviva is the largest privately held diesel engine remanufacturer in North America and its engines are available at most aftermarket truck component suppliers and large truck dealers in the U.S. and Canada. Vander Haag's, Inc., with nine locations throughout the Midwest, will be reinstalling the ClearFlame engines into Class-8 trucks.

During the pilot, ClearFlame said the truck is accumulating miles and driving long distances in a range of operating conditions. That includes short-haul routes between the company's Indiana locations, with a variety of different load types.

ClearFlame said it will be conducting "several other pilots" through the end of the year.

ClearFlame expects to achieve commercialization of its engine modification technology by the end of 2023. The company is currently working with the EPA to achieve all environmental approvals; trucks are currently running under EPA exemption.

"As these cross-industry partnerships indicate, our innovative technology for the decarbonization of heavy-duty engines can be effectively integrated and quickly scaled across the United States in the short term -- not years from now," ClearFlame CEO BJ Johnson said in a news release.

"This is critical, particularly in industries like heavy-duty transportation. By leveraging an already existing ecosystem and infrastructure, ClearFlame's solution not only gets us to our climate goals faster but can do so less expensively -- saving fleets money, without any green premium."

In October 2020, ClearFlame announced the technology delivered 500 horsepower and more than 2,500 foot-pounds of torque, "while eliminating the need for additional aftertreatment such as selective catalytic reduction or diesel particulate filter systems."

During the 2020 National Ethanol Conference, Johnson told ethanol industry representatives the technology has the potential to create a large market for ethanol. He said even an optimistic 20% market penetration into the $231 billion heavy-duty diesel market would create 15 billion gallons of demand for ethanol per year.

The reason ethanol's application in diesel engines hasn't happened is because the performance and simplicity of the diesel engine are tied to its dirty emissions, Johnson said.

A selling point for the ClearFlame technology is it can replace petroleum fuels with ethanol in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as particulate matter and smog, at the same time reducing overall engine cost.

The diesel sector spends about $3.3 billion in aftertreatment each year. Using ethanol in a diesel engine could save the sector $2.5 billion in aftertreatment costs, Johnson said.

In October 2021, ClearFlame announced John Deere was among a number of companies investing $17 million in the startup company developing a heavy-duty truck engine able to run on straight ethanol.

The funding is expected to enable commercialization of the company's engine technology for the long-haul trucking, agriculture and power generation sectors. The financing was led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures with participation from John Deere, commodity trader Mercuria and Clean Energy Ventures.

Read more on DTN:

"CEO of Ethanol-Diesel Engine Tech Company ClearFlame Sets Sights on Ag Equipment, Portable Generator Markets,"…

"Deere Invests in Ethanol Diesel Engine,"…

"Ethanol Diesel Engine Passes Road Test,"…

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Todd Neeley

Todd Neeley
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