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

PI: Will Northrop, Mechanical Engineering, University of Minnesota

Co-PI: Satbir Singh, Mechanical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University

Ying Lin, PHd student, Mechanical Engineering, University of Minnesota

Hye Won Lee, PHd student, Mechanical Engineering, University of Minnesota

The goal of the project 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 BTE through higher compression ratio combined with lean operation and lower heat loss. Instead of reforming, the project will develop 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.

Sponsor: Department of Energy