On-board fuel reforming could enhance vehicle efficiency

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A technology that could allow vehicles to become more efficient and less polluting is being explored by engineers at the newly established catalysis institute at Cardiff University.

Prof Stan Golunski, deputy director of the Cardiff Catalysis Institute, in collaboration with engineers at Brunel and Birmingham universities, is investigating the feasibility of an on-board fuel reforming system to improve combustion and recover waste heat.

The system will be based on the incorporation of a catalytic reactor in the exhaust to produce gas mixtures rich in nitrogen and hydrogen that can be fed back to the engine.

The team will study how the addition of these mixtures affects engine combustion, performance and emissions with the institute identifying stable catalysts that will perform the reforming reaction.

Initially the research will focus on diesel engines, but the potential of fuel reforming to achieve benefits in gasoline engines will also be evaluated.

Golunski said: ’The technology that we are developing with our colleagues at Brunel and Birmingham has the potential to recover waste heat, and therefore improve fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions.’

The project is one of the first undertaken by the Cardiff Catalysis Institute, which is part of the University’s School of Chemistry. Officially launched on 13 October, the institute aims to establish a centre of excellence for catalysis within the UK that builds upon the current strengths in research at Cardiff.