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Fuels & Engines

This is the February 2017 issue of the Transportation and Hydrogen Newsletter.

February 21, 2017

Photo of Robert L. McCormick looking into a test tube of material.

McCormick's election as SAE Fellow is an exceptional professional distinction.

NREL Engineer Named SAE Fellow

NREL's Robert L. McCormick has been named a fellow of SAE International in recognition of his unique contributions to the science of fuel-engine interactions. McCormick leads the NREL research team for advanced biofuels R&D. His many accomplishments include determining how heating and cooling cycles affect the cold-weather performance of biodiesel; contributing to the development and expansion of markets for ethanol; and conducting pioneering research on the broad range of oxygenated compounds that may be produced from biomass and used in gasoline or diesel fuels.

Fuels-Engines Initiative Targets Maximum Efficiency, Energy Independence, and Growth

NREL and its national lab partners released a report spotlighting key accomplishments from the Co-Optimization of Fuels & Engines (Co-Optima) initiative's first year. It is projected that this integrated approach to fuel and engine innovation could lead to an annual $40 billion in fuel cost savings and more than 30 billion gallons of biofuels from domestic feedstocks, as well as drive market demand for biofuels and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

Projected Effects of Connected and Automated Vehicle Technologies on Fuel Use Vary Widely

Multi-lab research on connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technologies revealed widely disparate fuel consumption estimates for the various scenarios considered—ranging from a 200% increase in light-duty vehicle fuel use to more than a 60% decrease. This broad range reflects uncertainties in the ways that CAV technologies can influence vehicle efficiency and use through changes in vehicle designs, driving habits, and travel behavior.

High-Octane Biofuel Speeds Automobile Performance Further

NREL researchers have created a catalyst that can be used to convert biomass into a hydrocarbon mixture rich in triptane, which is a high-octane component that could be added to gasoline to prevent engine knocking, boost the octane rating, and allow for an increase in the engine's efficiency. The biofuel blendstock that NREL developed is 85% triptane and has an estimated research octane number of 107. While use of this mixture as a fuel is currently better suited for race cars (standard engines aren't designed to take advantage of such high octane), triptane can be added to gasoline and could find use in turboprop airplanes or as a blendstock in fuels for advanced gasoline engines.

Updated Cetane Number Compendium Provides Fuels Performance Guidance to Researchers

Researchers have released updated information on all available pure-compound cetane number data through December 2016, including previously unpublished values that are results of Co-Optima activities. Researchers and the engine, vehicle, and fuel industries rely on these numbers to target compounds for development of new fuels capable of delivering greater energy efficiency, cleaner emissions, and maximum engine performance.

Interactive Animation Highlights Integrated Hydrogen Research Capabilities

The Hydrogen Infrastructure Testing and Research Facility (HITRF) at NREL's Energy Systems Integration Facility integrates hydrogen production, compression, storage, and dispensing into a unified system for fueling fuel cell electric vehicles and tracking hydrogen infrastructure performance. A new interactive animation traces research activities from hydrogen generation to its flow through the integrated system components.

Fuel Production from Domestic Resources Could Spur New Markets for Natural Gas Vehicles

Researchers from the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis explored the market potential of low-carbon natural gas (LCNG) produced from regionally abundant resources, such as landfill gas and agricultural waste, for use in transportation applications in California. Techno-economic analyses looking at resource availability, cost, and emissions for a variety of LCNG production pathways reveal potential for LCNG in California to be economically competitive with fossil-based fuels by 2030.

Learn more about NREL's Transportation RD&D including Hydrogen and Fuel Cells, as well as partnership opportunities.