On-Demand Reactivity Enhancement to Enable Advanced Low Temperature Natural Gas Internal Combustion Engines

Principal Investigator(s):

Will Northrop, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Project summary:

The goal of this research program is to overcome the disadvantages of dedicated spark ignition (DSI) and dual fuel compression ignition (DFCI) engines by developing catalytic fuel pretreatment technology to control advanced, natural gas, low temperature compression ignition (LTCI) combustion. LTCI modes result in higher engine brake thermal efficiency (BTE) through higher compression ratio combined with lean operation and lower heat loss. Instead of reforming, the project is developing oxidative coupling of methane (OCM), a catalytic process that converts methane to ethylene and ethane, both gaseous fuels with higher autoignition reactivity than methane. Although industrially relevant for polymer synthesis from natural gas, OCM has not previously been studied for vehicular applications. The key advantage of fuel pretreatment over advanced ignition concepts for lean DSI is the ability to dynamically increase fuel reactivity on-demand, allowing greater flexibility to adjust combustion mode to optimize thermal efficiency.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2019025
  • Start date: 05/2018
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Environment and Energy
  • Topics: Environment