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Posted on Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 4 p.m.

University of Michigan student venture hopes to cut fuel emissions in small engines

By Ben Freed


Yao-Ting Tsai shows off the display for picoSpray, a fuel injection system for small engines developed by U-M students.

Ben Freed |

PicoSpray was founded by University of Michigan students and was housed in the TechArb startup incubator. It’s now garnering national attention after a write-up in Fast Company highlighted the company’s product, a new fuel injector.

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The startup hopes to replace carburetors in scooters and motorcycles with small fuel injectors — a technology already used in cars and busses. To transition the technology to smaller engines, picoSpray has managed to cut out components of the injector to make it smaller and less expensive.

Fast Company’s Eric Sofge sees a bright future for picoSpray, but notes the company still needs to raise capital and prepare for large-scale production, having this far only developed prototypes.

Click here to read the full story from Fast Company.

Ben Freed covers business for You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Reach out to Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2


Nicholas Urfe

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 2:54 p.m.

Are there any whitepapers on the specifics of this technology? I am very curious about what they are doing. I've read some proposal type stuff, but they were non-specific.


Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 3:12 a.m.

We should be more worried about those coal burning power plants. Those little engines don't cause much harm. They are cheap and last a long time, fuel injection will just drive up the costs and injectors clog up when they sit unused for months at a time. Car engines are used year round, lawnmowers and snowblowers are not used year round, least not around here.

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 2:52 p.m.

Please check your facts before posting. There is plenty of data to document that those little engines cause a great deal of pollution. They often have no pollution controls, and are poorly maintained. The air filters get clogged, causing the engines to run rich, further increasing pollution, etc.


Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 2:24 p.m.

Not sure what your definition of "much harm" is, but here is some information: Until recently, small engines of this type were not regulated at all except in California. According to EPA estimates, in many large urban areas, pre-1997 lawn and garden equipment accounts for as much as 5 percent of the total man-made hydrocarbons that contribute to ozone formation. EPA expects that reducing emissions from small engines will help to alleviate the formation of ground-level ozone—resulting in a decrease of air pollution-related health problems for urban residents.


Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 1:01 a.m.

1 injector Motor Speed Sensor Maybe an air meter of some sort A control module (plus somebody to code it) Wiring Harness Sound like about $40. The injector is the least of their worries. Might be worth it though from a reliability standpoint. The Harley's sure run better injected. I never thought I would say that.

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 2:53 p.m.

A harley engine "running better" is an oxymoron.


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 11:19 p.m.

Maybe the soon to be Ex-Dean of the Law School could provide some funding?

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 9:45 p.m.

I love this idea and hope it works out for them. That said, I wonder how reliable the technology will be year after year. I can remember an old lawnmower I'd leave out all winter long. In the spring, I'd drain the float bowl, add fresh gas, and it would usually start on the first pull. I'm not sure more tech would be as robust.