August 28, 2007
New Diesel Technology to Increase Mileage by 50%

Eddie Sturman’s goal is to help save the planet.

He believes a presentation he gave to an audience of 1,000 diesel engine industry representatives in Detroit last week may have moved him closer to that vision.

Sturman and his wife, Carol, talked about their small company’s big invention during the Department of Energy’s Diesel Engine-Efficiency and Emissions Research Conference on Aug. 16.

Woodland Park-based Sturman Industries, which the couple founded in 1989, has created a digital control system for diesel engines. The Sturmans say their system improves fuel efficiency, horsepower and torque, reduces exhaust emissions and lowers the cost of diesel engines in everything from motorcycles and cars to construction equipment and ships.

The Sturmans have spoken previously about separate components of their camless engine system, such as the fuel injectors, valves and microprocessor controls. Last week marked the North American debut of the whole platform of components, Eddie Sturman said.

He’s now gearing up to take his company’s technological advances to the masses by securing contracts with big players in the automotive industry.

Industry experts appear to believe in Sturman’s products.

“It’s the most exciting engine technology in the world that I know of. It has revolutionary implications in many uses, not only vehicles,” said Amory Lovins, chief scientist and chairman of Rocky Mountain Institute.

Lovins co-founded the Snowmassbased nonprofit organization and is known for developing economic approaches to energy efficiency and conservation.

Customers using parts of Sturman’s combustion technology already include General Motors Corp., Mack Trucks Inc., Deere & Co., International Truck and Engine Corp. and the Department of Defense.

“In the past four years, we’ve gone from a handful of customers to 28,” Carol Sturman said.

Privately held Sturman Industries, which has 75 employees, is primarily a research and development company focused on mechanical controls.

For the past two years, the Sturmans have funneled company profits into the next leap needed for largescale production — getting contracts for the entire engine platform.

Two unnamed original equipment manufacturers have signed on, with mass production in North America slated for 2012 to 2013, Carol Sturman said.

The Detroit conference, as well as a similar presentation earlier this month in Kyoto, Japan, generated a lot of interest, she said.

“We tried to do two things — create business opportunities and raise awareness,” she said. “I think we succeeded.”

“What we’re doing is a really different approach than what’s been used in the past,” said Eddie Sturman, who said he developed the foundation of his digital technology working on NASA’s Apollo space program.

Industry experts have seen converting fuel to motion, known as combustion, as uncontrollable because of the speed at which that occurs, he said.

“We challenged that idea — digital valves can control the fuel and air during combustion — so you get more energy and you need less fuel,” he said.

Sturman’s engine can run on up to 100 percent biodiesel fuel or regular diesel, and the digital technology improves fuel efficiency by 50 percent over regular diesel engines, triples power and shaves $2,000 to $12,000 off the engine cost typically spent on meeting government emissions standards, Eddie Sturman said.

“We’re challenging industry to look outside the traditional paradigms for ways that can be better economically for their business and answer environmental and energy needs,” Carol Sturman said. “Traditionally, technological breakthroughs for progress in industry come from companies similar to ours — small, high-tech, fearless companies willing to go outside the comfort zone and push the envelope.”

Automotive innovation happens when there is economic need, said Daniel Johnson, an assistant economics and business professor at Colorado College.

“If the price of oil goes up, we should see inventors respond to that and invent things for industrial or consumer use,” said Johnson, who co-authored a study on how the price of crude oil affects automotive innovation.

“The Sturmans are a great example of this induced innovation,” said Johnson, who is familiar with the company’s work. “Unfortunately, it’s taken the industrial public a while to find an economic incentive to use what the Sturmans are producing. They have fabulous innovations that haven’t been used as widely as they might have been if gas prices had cracked $4 a gallon. We’d be beating a wider and broader path to their door.”