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Biofuel Combustion Engines: A Step Closer to Market in America


Today, the US Department of Energy announced it selected four projects to conduct applied research and development (R&D) studies concerning the interaction between promising biofuel and combustion engines. In fact, the administration awarded each of the projects $250,000 (totaling $1 million).

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Biofuel Combustion Engines for the Future?

Thus, the projects will leverage a range of National Laboratory capabilities as part of the Co-Optimization of Fuels & Engines (Co-Optima) initiative. Besides, the Energy Department aims to help bring these biofuel and engine combinations closer to commercial adoption.

In fact, The Co-Optima initiative provides scientific knowledge to maximize vehicle performance and efficiency. It also helps leverage domestic biofuel resources and reduces life cycle emissions.

As previously stated, each awardee will receive up to $250,000 in National Laboratory assistance. Thus, this assistance will allow them to leverage innovative bioblendstock fuel property, production, and combustion performance research capabilities.

Besides, the projects will focus on the impacts of the adoption of co-optimized fuel-engine combinations. In fact, each of the awardees has committed to a 20% cost-share contribution.

The awardees

For instance, one of the awardees, Aramco Services Co., Marathon Petroleum Co., and Caterpillar, will work with Argonne National Laboratory (ANL). Thus, they’ll join forces to identify bioblendstock characteristics (including carbon number and molecular structure).

Hence, through these studies, the parties will provide the best 87 anti-knock index gasoline for heavy-duty gasoline compression ignition engines.

Another awarded project includes the Coordinating Research Council, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Jointly, they’ll develop an isotope ratio mass spectrometry method as a cost-effective means to identify renewable content in co-processed biofuel and fossil-derived fuel.

Similarly, Cummins will work with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Thus, these awardees will develop a deeper understanding of how physical and chemical fuel properties affect mixing-controlled compression ignition combustion. Notably in medium-duty engines through computational fluid dynamics simulations.

Finally, Shell will work with ORNL and ANL to quantify how fuel volatility can be used to increase anti-knock performance. Therefore, this study aims to improve engine efficiency and the use of biofuel.

Sponsor initiatives

In fact, DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) sponsors the program. Thus, the office focuses on decarbonizing the transportation sector, the single largest source of domestic greenhouse gas emissions.

Moreover, EERE includes the Vehicle Technologies and Bioenergy Technologies Offices and the Co-Optima consortium partners. For instance, some of the organizations of Co-Optima include ANL, LANL, PNNL, ORNL, Idaho National Laboratory, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Also the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories. Finally, the initiative partners with more than 20 university and industry partners.

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