Kevin Bullis

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Chemistry Nobel Goes to Work that Could Help Make Cars More Efficient

Nobel Prize for Chemistry celebrates detailed simulations of combustion.

  • October 9, 2013

This year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry goes to three researchers who developed powerful computer models that have been used, among other things, to model combustion.

Computer models have become essential to improving the efficiency and emissions of internal combustion engines, gas turbines, and other equipment that depends on combustion. For example, they allow researchers to make subtle changes to the shape of pistons to ensure that fuel and air mix properly and burn cleanly, and at just the right rate. Or to understand how it’s possible to enhance efficiency by burning more than one fuel (see “Exploding Engine Could Reduce Fuel Consumption” and “Swiss Researchers Make an 80-mpg Hybrid”).

The awardees are Martin Karplus, of Université de Strasbourg and Harvard University, Michael Levitt from Stanford University, and Arieh Warshel from the University of Southern California. 

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