General Motors announced a $69 million investment in an engine plant in Moraine, Ohio, to produce a cleaner, more advanced version of the carmaker’s Duramax diesel engine. The engine is intended for the Chevrolet Suburban and the Hummer H2, as well as the full-range of GM pickup trucks and full-size vans.

The next generation diesel powerplant, expected to arrive in 2010, will be designed to allow larger GM offerings to meet light-vehicle emissions standards in all 50 states. It will also give the Suburban and the H2, which are currently powered by GM’s gas-thirsty 6.0-liter V8 (12 city/17 highway), a more efficient alternative under the hood. Power and performance will not be compromised.

“This new investment demonstrates GM’s commitment to invest in technologies that reduce the impact of our vehicles on the environment, while maintaining performance attributes required by customers in the areas of towing and hauling loads,” said John Buttermore, GM Powertrain vice president of global manufacturing.

The displacement of the upgraded engine will remain at 6.6-liters, but will likely do away with the intake and exhaust manifolds. The new layout will use selective catalytic reduction or urea to reduce oxides of nitrogen emissions. Vehicles using the engine will also utilize a diesel particulate filter as part of a larger exhaust after-treatment system.

GM developed the original 6.6-liter Duramax with Isuzu. It went on sale in the 2001 model year and has gained the reputation of being trouble-free and hardworking. It has helped GM claim almost 25 percent of the overall heavy duty diesel truck market. Last year, GM built nearly 200,000 Duramax engines. More than one million have been built since production started.