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Fuels and Combustion

This is the March 2015 issue of the Transportation and Hydrogen Newsletter.

Photo of a bulldozer moving wood chips into an energy plant.

Biomass, unlike other renewable energy sources, can be converted directly into liquid biofuels to help meet transportation fuel needs.
Photo by Warren Gretz, NREL 06373

Improving the Infrastructure Compatibility of Biomass
Biofuels can offer significant benefits such as lower emission of greenhouse gases over conventional fuels. Biomass feedstocks, however, contain a large percentage of oxygen, and it may not be economically feasible to remove this oxygen and produce hydrocarbon (oxygen-free) drop-in fuels. An NREL study is determining if and at what levels biomass-derived oxygenates may be commercially feasible in drop-in fuels that can be used in existing vehicles and fuel distribution infrastructure, focusing on the fast pyrolysis method for lowering oxygenates from biomass in a relatively inexpensive way.

March 30, 2015

Coordinated Fuel and Engine Research Optimizes Energy Efficiency

Synchronized advances in fuel formulation, combustion strategy, and engine design hold the potential to maximize vehicle energy efficiency and performance, while dramatically decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. NREL is examining how to optimize the performance of low-carbon fuels in internal combustion engines with a whole-systems approach to fuel chemistry, ignition kinetics, combustion, and emissions that also factors in fuel production, infrastructure, and handling.

Report Finds All U.S. States Show Promise for Alternative Fuel Deployment

A new NREL report examines the potential to successfully deploy the five most commonly used alternative fuels: electricity (used by plug-in electric vehicles), biodiesel (blends of B20 and higher), E85 ethanol, compressed natural gas, and propane. To evaluate existing and potential regional market strength, the report's authors studied six market indicators for each state. The report concludes that while markets varied among states, every state showed promise for being able to deploy at least one alternative fuel.

Ignition Research Platform Enables Advanced Fuels Development

NREL conducts studies on fuel ignition kinetics performance using a flexible research platform based on a modified ignition quality tester (IQT). IQT-based experiments examine combustion across a wide range of temperatures, pressures, and levels of dilution, and make it possible to validate kinetic models for automakers in hours rather than weeks. The IQT tool lets researchers conduct ignition experiments examining novel fuels with potential greenhouse gas and petroleum reductions in engine-relevant conditions and at small volumes, which often pose severe challenges to traditional evaluation devices.

VICE 2.0 Modeling Tool Helps Fleets Determine Financial Soundness in CNG Projects

Compressed natural gas (CNG) has garnered interest as a transportation fuel in part due to its cost savings and price stability compared to conventional petroleum fuels. A new NREL report describes how a fresh take on the Vehicle Infrastructure and Cash Flow Evaluation (VICE) model Version 2.0is helping businesses and fleets take evaluating the financial soundness of CNG vehicle and CNG fueling infrastructure projects to the next level.

Learn more about opportunities to collaborate with NREL on sustainable transportation solutions.