FACE - Novel Integrated Fuel Reformer-Aftertreatment System for Clean and Efficient Road Vehicles

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Mechanical Engineering

Abstract

Modern vehicles fuel economy has been improved since 2010 by approximately 20% and this has been achieved through engineering advances that have led to engine efficiency improvements, reduction in vehicle mass, introduction of hybrids. Vehicle manufacturers have managed to meet the mandatory 2015 CO2 levels, however according to their current announcements they are all still away by 30% to 15% from the 2020/21 target of 95 g/km. Achieving the necessary additional fuel economy improvement for 2020 and beyond requires the introduction of other unconventional technological approaches.

Despite substantial improvements in the emissions control technologies for road transport, which have been resulted in improved air quality over the past decade, there are still significant air quality problems throughout the UK and the EU, especially in urban and densely populated areas
Exhaust gas fuel reforming is a technique that utilises the engine exhaust heat, H2O, CO2 and fresh fuel to produce H2 rich gas through the promotion of primarily endodermic reactions
Fuel reforming for IC engine technologies has been discussed for years but has never been implemented. The combination of present challenges in the emission reduction requirements in road transport and the improved fuels quality in recent years provides a unique opportunity for a successful fuel reforming process to be utilized in the global aftertreatment market.

In the "first stage" (WP1) the fuel reformer will be designed and integrated within the engine exhaust to provide small reformate/H2 concentrations to the aftertreatment system when required. In the "second stage" (WP2) the fuel reforming catalyst will be amalgamated within the aftertreatment, into one novel compact integrated catalyst brick, designed using additive manufacturing techniques, to improve further response time to engine changes and emission and simplify its operation, costs, complexity and control. In addition to emission benefits, fuel economy improvements (taking into account the small quantity of fuel in the reformer to generate the required ppm of H2) in GDI and Diesel engine, though combinations of more efficient engine calibration, reduced pumping losses and the absence of disruptive aftertreatment control strategies (i.e. aftertreatment systems activity and regeneration achieved through the substantial use of fuel).

Planned Impact

The automotive industry and supply chain are major economic and industrial forces in the UK and vehicles sales, is a synonym of a country's, continent's economic growth. By 2030, only in Europe it is estimated that 297 million vehicles will be on the road and the forecast for the total CO2 emission is 1022 million tons/year. World petroleum and other liquid fuels consumption is expected to rise by 38% by 2040, spurred by increased demand in the developing Asia, according to projections in International Energy Outlook 2014, released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Therefore research in more efficient technologies capable of reducing CO2 emissions is underway. The EU is the most foremost R&D investor with 41 billion euros spent in 2013, followed by Japan and US with 24 billion and 12.5 billion, respectively. Aftertreatment systems market is predicted to grow from £13 Billions to more than £18 Billion by 2020 with the UK bases catalyst companies such as the project partner Johnson Matthey, to potentially gain considerable share. The proposed programme of work has been planned to deliver catalytic technologies that promise to provide substantial reduction of emissions in road transport vehicles. The beneficiaries of our research will encompass industry, government agencies, policy-makers and research groups. By working with our established marketing, PR and dissemination colleagues, and through our leadership in mechanisms such as the Energy Research Accelerator a capital investment of £60million from Government capital funding, supported by an additional £120 million of co-investment secured by industry and academic partners will ensure the outcomes of the project are communicated effectively to our targeted audiences, namely the general public, academics and industrialists.

Impact on society: The project will contribute towards substantial reduction of emissions as well providing improvements in quality of life and health. As described in the Case Support more than 500,000 premature deaths are linked to pollution from vehicles.

Impact on industry/economy: The UK industry could be the first to benefit; with existing strength in engine and vehicle production, catalyst and catalytic technologies manufacture and with expertise in advanced manufacturing, the UK is well positioned to exploit the technologies. Reducing power generation and transportation operating costs, which could reduce fuel prices and electricity, further benefiting the wider industrial and public community

Impact on research community:
Fuel reforming and CO2 utilisation in H2 production for use in road transport vehicle with the aim to reduce emissions and the use of fuels has attracted significant world-wide attention in recent year. In 2004 approximately 250 papers published and received just over 1500 citations while last year (2015) the number of publication increased to more than 550 receiving approximately 19,000 citations (Mimas Sept. 2016).
The interdisciplinary expertise within the groups and the available facilities are enabling us to investigate and provide a complete study and to generate new knowledge on: i) the individual technologies (i.e. fuel reforming, reactor engineering) considered here, ii) technological interactions and synergies when work in a system, iii) their performance under real life situations. The project will train new highly skilled researchers in an area in which a skills shortage is forecast in the coming years, thereby also benefiting the academic and industrial research communities. The benefits of the project will be passed onto the research community, industry and the public, providing knowledge and contributing to the global strategy for sustainable cleaner energy production and utilisation. Furthermore, the performance data generated will be used to predict system efficiencies and lifecycle CO2 emissions, so establishing the broader low-carbon credentials of the reforming technologies.
 
Description Additive manufacturing process has been optimised for structuring catalysts and benefits if engine fuel economy and emissions have been achieved
Exploitation Route OEM and manufacturing companies can use the finding in their products.
Sectors Energy,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

 
Description The results/findings have been communicated to the industrial partners and the Impact on emissions reduction and fuel economy has been quantified on modern engines.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Energy,Environment
Impact Types Societal

 
Description prepared a report for the Royals Society for the policy on energy carriers (Use of Ammonia in road transport)
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
 
Description Ford Motor Company Industrial In-kind Support
Amount £55,000 (GBP)
Organisation Ford Motor Company 
Sector Private
Country United States
Start 02/2019 
End 01/2021
 
Description Industrial Funding : Aftertreatment System for Natural Gas Fuelled Engines
Amount £24,000 (GBP)
Organisation Johnson Matthey 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2018 
End 09/2021
 
Description Interactions fuel, GDI engine and after treatment for clean and efficient powertrains
Amount £24,000 (GBP)
Organisation Johnson Matthey 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2018 
End 09/2021
 
Description Rutherford Fellows 2018
Amount £15,000 (GBP)
Funding ID RF-2018-77 
Organisation Universities UK International 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2018 
End 03/2019
 
Description Collaboration with HORIBA UK Limited, Research and Teaching 
Organisation Horiba
Department HORIBA MIRA
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Collaboration in a ~£1.7M EPSRC project. In the area of emissions analysis from modern vehicles. In addition as part of the module we are putting together hands on experience workshops, where the students learn how to design an engine test bed and use the emissions analysis equipment provided by Horiba.
Collaborator Contribution Horiba provides staff time to support the project and advice, provide emissions analysis equipment, plan and support research work and proposals.
Impact 1. Catalytic Technologies for Improved Vehicle Fuel Economy and Emissions, HORIBA Customer Event, Thursday 14th September 2017, The Belfry
Start Year 2017
 
Description Collaboration with Indian Institute of Technology Bombay 
Organisation Indian Institute of Technology Bombay
Country India 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Research visits to contact research and provide seminars/lectures
Collaborator Contribution Visits to contact research work, cash for travel to India
Impact Not yet
Start Year 2019
 
Description Collaboration with REPSOL 
Organisation Repsol
Country Spain 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Research in the area of fuels and impact on emissions and catalyst durability
Collaborator Contribution Cash and provision of fuels, analysis and time
Impact No yet, outputs are in preparation The work has been included in an Impact Case for REF2021 submissions
Start Year 2019
 
Description Research exchange visits 
Organisation Polytechnic University of Valencia
Country Spain 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Hosting researchers from Valencia and providing experimental facilities.
Collaborator Contribution Research work, their time and publications in review.
Impact Paper in preparation, it is not multidisciplinary just brings additional expertise in an area we are leading
Start Year 2019
 
Description Universitdade Federal da Bahia, Brazil 
Organisation Federal University of Bahia
Country Brazil 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Research visit and stay for 1 year from Brazil..
Collaborator Contribution Researcher time time in performing experimental work, analysis and writing research papers.
Impact Papers are currently in preparation
Start Year 2019
 
Description Article in engineering magazine The Engineer 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Article written in the popular engineering magazine The Engineer on how catalytic technologies can improve the Vehicle Fuel economy by recovering exhaust gas heat. This has attracted worldwide interest and OEMs are interested in the technology.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.theengineer.co.uk/on-board-reformer-turns-exhaust-fumes-into-fuel/
 
Description By Invitation only speaker in 2018 SAE Waste Heat Recovery Symposium 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact More than 60 attendees from Industry, research and academia, initiated question and led to the collaboration with AVL.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Ford Global Aftertreatment Forum 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact More than 30 engineers and managers attending the forum, which was about the scope of FACE Project and sparked questions about the different technologies are going to be used, including fuel reforming, additive manufacturing for aftertreatment systems and fuel reformers and move reactions for reduction of vehicle pollutants
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019