What is it about?

Natural gas / biogas is a fuel which is very well suited for internal combustion engines as it burns clean and produces less CO2 emissions compared to diesel or gasoline. Today's mass-produces methane (CNG) engines do not exploit the full efficiency potential as they are basically gasoline engines, converted to methane use. This research presents results of the efficiency potential of a CNG engine which is optimized for this fuel, which leads to roughly 20% less CO2 emissions than the actual state-of-the art engines.

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Why is it important?

The transport sector is facing a high pressure to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. To do so, renewable energy or a low-carbon fossil fuel has to be used, and the efficiency has to be increased. Methane has here a long-term perspective as it is the fossil fuel with the lowest carbon content and it can be produces cost-efficiently in renewable ways. Additionally, methane is very knock-resisitive which makes methane a well-suited motor fuel. To find ways to use methane as a fuel for light-duty vehicles as efficiently as possible is a key issue to bring this technology forward as one of the key pillars for a low-CO2 mobility.

Perspectives

This article is about efficiency and emission behavior of a novel methane-fuel engine. The way to these results was very ambitious and exciting as it consisted of a close collaboration of industrial and academic partners. For the research side, the access to state-of-the-art engine hardware, being serial production or prototype parts, was key which cannot be done without a strong industrial partner. We enjoyed that in this project, numeric research and fundamental experiments led to a system which could successfully be transferred to a running engine with record-high efficiency levels.

Dr.sc.techn. ETH Patrik Soltic
Empa

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This page is a summary of: Efficient light-duty engine using turbulent jet ignition of lean methane mixtures, International Journal of Engine Research, November 2019, SAGE Publications, DOI: 10.1177/1468087419889833.
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