Highly Efficient Range Extender Engine Using E85 and Thermochemical Recuperation

Principal Investigator(s):

Will Northrop, Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Project summary:

Range extender (REx) engines have promise for providing low-cost energy for future battery electric vehicles. Due to their restricted operation range, REx engines provide an opportunity to implement system-level schemes that are less-attractive for engines designed for highly transient operation.

This research explores a thermochemical-recuperation (TCR) scheme for a 2-cylinder BMW spark-ignition REx engine using a 1-D model implemented in GT-Power (TM). The TCR reactor employs a unique catalytic heat-exchange configuration that enables efficient transfer of exhaust sensible and chemical enthalpy to steam reform the incoming fuel. The engine model without the TCR reactor was validated using experimental emissions and performance data from a BMW engine operating on a test stand.

A custom-integrated heat exchanger and catalyst model was created and integrated with the validated engine. A parametric-modeling sweep was conducted with iso-octane as fuel over a range of reformed fuel fraction. With the TCR reactor operating at a molar steam-to-carbon ratio of 1.0, engine efficiency was increased by 2.9% over the baseline REx engine within the most efficient speed- and load-operation range. Emissions of major exhaust species remained the same as the baseline with the addition of the TCR reactor and integrated three-way catalyst after-treatment system.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2020060
  • Start date: 07/2019
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Environment and Energy