This research will enable efficient and environmentally sound utilization of ethanol blends in internal combustion engines. Future engines may play a supporting role in electrified vehicles by serving as battery charging range extender (REx) engine-generators. This project will use E85 and lower concentration ethanol/gasoline blends and a novel exhaust reforming strategy to increase the efficiency of REx engines. The proposed system utilizes the waste heat from an engine to reform a portion of the incoming fuel to a fuel mixture that has higher caloric value in a process known as thermochemical recuperation (TCR).
Research Category: Fuels & Emissions
The economic value of traditional cash crops are enhanced by finding new uses in diversified products. Such applications are particularly effective in enhancing health, nutrition and disease prevention. Considerable potential exists for the recovery of useful moieties from the waste streams and co products of corn processing. Major constituents recovered as feed and food ingredients from corn are protein and dietary fiber, both of which are beneficial for animals and humans. The latter was the focus of a previous study by PI Krishnan.
Currently, the market for corn ethanol is less than 15 billion gallons a year. A mid-level (20% – 30% ethanol) gasoline blend with the octane rating of today’s premium, if widely available, would allow automakers to increase the efficiency of future engines and reduce the cost of compliance with future fuel economy and greenhouse gas regulations. This, in turn, would expand the market for fuel ethanol and potentially lead to an increase in the amount of corn ethanol that can be used in gasoline.
The University of Minnesota (UMN) has demonstrated a dual-fuel hydrous ethanol injection system for use on existing diesel engines that can replace up to 40% diesel fuel use by energy with ethanol. We have also demonstrated that 180 proof hydrous ethanol production can save 10% in plant natural gas usage and reduce net plant water use up to 6%.
The primary motivations for developing a viable hydrous ethanol dual-fuel system are to expand the market for ethanol to diesel-powered applications and to reduce pollutant emissions from diesel engines.
In this preliminary investigative project, the University of Minnesota team led by Prof. Will Northrop will design and construct a small reactor for partially reforming ethanol and ethanol blends at high thermal efficiency. The design is based on fundamental research that the PI has done under an NSF grant entitled, “High Equivalence Ratio Partial Oxidation of Liquid Fuels by Reactive Volatilization”. In the prior research, we have investigated the use of non-premixed short contact time reactor architectures for partially reforming liquid fuels1.