The US Department of Energy (DOE) has released two studies from the Co-Optimization of Engines & Fuels initiative (Co-Optima) (earlier post). The first study, Fuel Blendstocks with the Potential to Optimize Future Gasoline Engine Performance, identifies eight representative high-octane blendstocks across five chemical groups that could be blended into gasoline... Read more →

AAA tests show premium fuel benefits some vehicles, but comes at a high cost

Last year, nearly 1.5 million new vehicles sold in the United States recommend, but do not require, premium gasoline. The trend toward recommending or requiring higher-octane fuel continues to rise as manufacturers work toward meeting stringent CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards. According to new research from AAA, premium gasoline... Read more →

Researchers at KAUST, Saudi Aramco evaluating low-octane fuels for gasoline compression ignition engines

Gasoline compression ignition (GCI) is an experimental engine technology that could consume 25% less energy than a conventional automobile engine. (Earlier post.) GCI uses a gasoline-type fuel, but rather than ignited with a spark, it is compression-ignited like diesel. GCI engines operate at higher compression ratios than conventional gasiline engines,... Read more →

The concept of using a second, high octane fuel on demand to augment the performance of a standard gasoline fuel reaches back to the 1940s, with a recent resurgence in interest generated by the need to increase engine efficiency. In a paper in the journal Fuel, researchers at the Fuel... Read more →

The difference between US average retail prices for premium and regular gasoline reached $0.50/gallon in late 2016 and it has remained near that level so far in 2017. This price difference, or spread, has been generally increasing since 2000. Many factors on both the supply and demand sides are influencing... Read more →

ASTM releases new high-octane fuel standard D8067-17 to support development of more efficient engines

ASTM International recently announced the release of a new high-octane fuel standard that is expected to impact the development of gasoline products compatible with vehicles that feature high-performance fuel-efficient engines. Formation and approval of the standard was led by Dr. Robert L. McCormick, an the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)... Read more →

Sugar-derived levulinic esters and cyclic ether show superior anti-knock quality to Euro95 reference gasoline

A team from The Netherlands and the US reports that the sugar-derived levulinic esters methyl levulinate (ML) and ethyl levulinate (EL) and the sugar-derived cyclic ether (furfuryl ethyl ether (FEE) demonstrate superior anti-knock quality (in 10% blends) to a reference Euro95 gasoline. The sugar-derived ethyl tetrahydrofurfuryl ether (ETE), another cyclic... Read more →

Clariant, Mercedes-Benz, Haltermann Carless report successful fleet test of E20 cellulosic ethanol blend

Clariant, a leading global specialty chemicals company, together with Mercedes-Benz and Haltermann Carless, a well-established HCS Group brand, tested the use of sustainable cellulosic ethanol from agricultural residues in a fleet test with Mercedes-Benz series vehicles over a period of 12 months for the first time in Germany. sunliquid 20... Read more →

Study: splash blended ethanol fuels with higher ethanol percentage enable higher thermal efficiency in SI engine

A team from the University of Birmingham (UK) and Shell Global Solutions has investigated the effect of RON, octane sensitivity and charge cooling in splash-blended ethanol fuels with different volume percentages of ethanol on a single-cylinder direct-injection spark ignition (DISI) research engine. In a paper published in the journal Fuel,... Read more →

A team from Saudi Aramco Research and Development Center has developed a novel low-cost, high-octane gasoline blend component it calls SuperButol. SuperButol is made from low-value mixed butenes using a new process the team has named Butenes to Butanol (BTB); it has slightly lower blending RON compared to MTBE but... Read more →

DOE awarding $16M to 54 projects to help commercialize promising energy technology from national labs

The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced nearly $16 million in funding to help businesses move promising energy technologies from DOE’s National Laboratories to the marketplace. This first Department-wide round of funding through the Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF) will support 54 projects at 12 national labs involving 52 private-sector partners.... Read more →

Since 2013, the share of premium gasoline in total motor gasoline sales in the US has steadily increased to 11.3% in August and September 2015—the highest share in more than a decade, according to data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). This trend of increasing demand for higher octane... Read more →

Diesel/2-methylfuran blends show higher brake thermal efficiency, higher NOx than diesel

Researchers at Wuhan University report on the first comprehensive study of the combustion and emissions performance of blends of diesel and the renewable fuel 2-methylfuran (MF) in compression-ignition engines. Their paper is published in the journal Fuel. Among their findings were that diesel–MF blends show higher brake thermal efficiency (BTE)... Read more →

Primus Green Energy Inc., a gas-to-liquids (GTL) technology and solutions company that transforms methane and other hydrocarbon gases into gasoline and methanol (earlier post), has successfully produced 100-octane gasoline at its commercial demonstration plant in Hillsborough, New Jersey. Primus achieved this milestone as a result of an improvement to its... Read more →

Westport and GTI awarded $900,000 to advance natural gas combustion technology; ESI with high frequency corona discharge ignition

Westport Innovations Inc., together with the Gas Technology Institute (GTI), has been awarded US$900,000 towards a program to advance state-of-the-art natural gas combustion technology. The work will feature Westport’s enhanced spark ignited (ESI) natural gas engine technology (earlier post) with the integration and demonstration of high frequency corona discharge ignition... Read more →

TMFB researchers investigate engine performance of two possible future tailor-made biofuels

Researchers at RWTH Aachen University in Germany report on their evaluation of two possible future biofuels—tailor-made from biomass—in a paper in the journal Fuel. The team investigated the use of 2-butanone (also referred to as methyl ethyl ketone, MEK) and 2-methylfuran, both of which had been identified within the Cluster... Read more →

A team of engineers from GM Powertrain, Ford and FCA have published a detailed review of how to estimate the engine efficiency benefits of higher octane fuel—e.g., fuel with higher ethanol content—for part- and full-load operation for different engine types and fuel assumptions. Their paper is published in the ACS... Read more →

UC Riverside team characterizes impact on PM of fuels with varying aromatics and octane rating; benefit of increased ethanol fraction

Researchers at the University of California-Riverside have characterized the effect of decreased aromatic content fuels combusted in advanced vehicle technologies on emissions of particulate matter (PM). In a paper in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, they present the changes in PM emissions for different fuels, engine technologies, and... Read more →

Researchers at Tsinghua University in China are studying the effects of Dual-Fuel Spark Ignition (DFSI) combustion fueled with different alcohols and gasoline. In one paper, published in the journal Fuel, they investigated the use of alcohols–gasoline DFSI Combustion for knock suppression and high fuel efficiency using a gasoline engine with... Read more →

NREL examines potential of blending ethanol with condensate for flex-fuels and high-octane mid-level blends

A team at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), with a colleague at EcoEngineering, has explored the potential of blending ethanol with natural gasoline (condensate) to produce flex-fuels (ASTM D5798-13a) and high-octane, mid-level ethanol blends (MLEBs). A paper on their work is published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.... Read more →

Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory are partnering with Ford Motor Company and FCA US LLC in pre-competitive research to study blending natural gas and gasoline using natural gas direct injection to enable more efficient engines. The project is a cooperative research and development agreement... Read more →

Clariant, Haltermann and Mercedes-Benz have fleet-tested high-octane sunliquid 20 fuel—containing 20% cellulosic ethanol produced from straw—since January. (Earlier post.) The test found that the use of sunliquid 20 improves engine efficiency—more than compensating for its 4% lower energy content compared to E10. For drivers, this means with sunliquid 20, CO2emissions... Read more →

A new study concludes that using ethanol can be a cost-effective approach to increasing the octane rating of the US gasoline pool. Source: ACS, Hirshfeld et al. Click to enlarge. A number of studies recently have pointed out that increasing the octane rating of the US gasoline pool (currently ∼93... Read more →

The ETHOS 2.8L demo truck. Click to enlarge. Cummins has developed an E-85-specific engine and powertrain that reduce carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 80% compared with a baseline gasoline-powered medium-duty truck. The work was jointly funded by Cummins and partners ($3,790,027) in partnership with the California Energy Commission... Read more →

SwRI engineers win SAE award for paper on impact of octane and cooled EGR on engine performance and efficiency

A team of engineers from Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has received the prestigious SAE International Harry L. Horning Memorial Award for a 2012 technical paper (2012-01-1149) investigating different octane-rated gasolines and exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) levels. Institute Engineer Dr. Charles Roberts, Assistant Director Dr. Terry Alger and Research Technologist Barrett... Read more →

Illustrative impact of the fuel roadmap. Source: LowCVP, Element Energy. Click to enlarge. The UK’s LowCVP has published twin reports which set out how the UK could meet its 2020 targets defined in the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive, and proceed on a pathway to decarbonize road transport fuel in the... Read more →

OSU’s series-parallel PHEV. Click to enlarge. The US Department of Energy and General Motors Co. announced that the Ohio State University (OSU) team was the overall winner of the EcoCAR 2: Plugging In to the Future finals. The OSU team’s engineered 2013 Chevrolet Malibu featured a series-parallel plug-in hybrid drive... Read more →

In a companion study to an SAE paper presented in April (earlier post), researchers at MIT have quantified the net economic and CO2 emissions benefit that could be obtained by utilizing 98 RON gasoline in light-duty vehicles, based on reasonable assumptions for possible refinery changes and the evolution of the... Read more →

AlcoMix displays antiknock blending characteristics similar to those of ethanol when blended at various concentrations with non-oxygenated gasoline (RON = 82). Credit: ACS, Rapp et al. Click to enlarge. Results of a study by a team from the US and Austria suggest that the primary alcohol mixture (“AlcoMix,” comprising 75%... Read more →

Offering a higher-octane gasoline to the consumer market in the US as the standard grade could deliver an incremental 4.5% to 6% reduction in fleet fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, on top of a projected 26.8% reduction by then in the baseline case (i.e., without higher octane... Read more →

ExxonMobil, Corning and Toyota develop onboard membrane system to separate gasoline into octane fractions to optimize engine efficiency and performance

ExxonMobil, Corning and Toyota have collaborated to develop an Onboard Separation System (OBS) to optimize gasoline engine efficiency and performance. OBS is a membrane-based process that separates gasoline into higher and lower octane fractions—essentially creating a dual fuel system from a single base fuel—allowing optimal use of fuel components based... Read more →

(Left) Thermal efficiency and (right) soot from different gasoline-butanol blends at different EGR rates. Yang et al. Click to enlarge. A study by a team at Tianjin University found that the addition of n-butanol to gasoline for use in a compression ignition engine (CI) under Low Temperature Combustion (LTC) conditions... Read more →

Global Bioenergies to collaborate with Audi on development of drop-in bio-isooctane

Global Bioenergies (GBE), a leading developer of one-step fermentation processes for the direct and cost-efficient transformation of renewable resources into light olefins (earlier post), has signed a collaboration agreement with Audi on the development of bio-isooctane—a high-performance drop-in biofuel for gasoline engines—derived from bio-isobutene. In 2011, GBE had announced an... Read more →

Estimated gasoline equivalent MPG of each fuel and combustion strategy in a midsize sedan at a 65 mph steady cruise condition, referenced to chassis dyno data of the production GM Ecotec SI engine and vehicle. CDC = conventional diesel combustion. Credit: ACS, Splitter and Szybist (2014a). Click to enlarge. Researchers... Read more →

Effect of ethanol energy fraction and PFI position on CO, NOx, HC, and opacity emissions. Credit: ACS, Padala et al. Click to enlarge. Researchers at the University of New South Wales (Australia) have demonstrated the potential for ethanol use in diesel engines with dual-fuel combustion, in which ethanol is injected... Read more →

Omnitek selects DD 12.7L Series 60 and Cat C15 engine models for diesel-to-gas conversion project at Port of Seattle

Omnitek Engineering Corporation has selected the 12.7 L Detroit Diesel Series 60 and the Caterpillar C15 engine models for the beginning of the second phase of a Puget Sound Clean Air Agency pilot project, which includes the development of diesel-to-natural gas engine conversion kits for these engine models and obtaining... Read more →

Advanced Biofuels USA introduces “E30 Capable” high-octane fuels concept in EPA Tier 3 comments

Biofuel advocacy group Advanced Biofuels introduced the concept of “E30 Capable” vehicles as part of its comments to the the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) recently proposed Tier 3 motor vehicle fuel and emission rulemaking. (Earlier post.) As part of the Tier 3 requirements, EPA proposes allowing vehicle manufacturers to... Read more →

The new MOF contains triangular channels running through the material. The walls of these channels trap the lower-octane components while allowing the higher-octane molecules to pass through, potentially providing a more efficient and cost effective way to refine high-octane gasoline. Credit: Science/AAAS. Click to enlarge. An international team of researchers... Read more →

Relative changes in vehicle energy efficiency (VEE) (km/MJ) on ethanol/gasoline blends over those on gasoline for different blending levels. Credit: ACS, Yan et al. Click to enlarge. In a policy analysis in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, researchers from the Universities of Cambridge, Exeter and Oxford argue that,... Read more →

Ford / AVL study concludes mid-level ethanol blend attractive as a long-term future fuel for use in optimized engines in US

A study by a team from Ford Motor Company and AVL has concluded that a mid-level ethanol blend—greater than E20 but less than E40—appears to be attractive as a long-term future fuel for the US for use in engines optimized for the higher octane blend. The team presented a paper... Read more →

US EPA proposing allowing high-octane, higher ethanol content fuels as part of Tier 3 regs; E30 as example

As part of the proposed Tier 3 rulemaking on vehicle emissions and gasoline sulfur content released last week (earlier post), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to allow vehicle manufacturers to request approval for an alternative certification fuel—such as a high-octane 30% ethanol by volume (E30) blend—for vehicles... Read more →

Study explores impact of alcohol-gasoline blends with early inlet valve closing at low and moderate loads on EGR tolerance

A team from Brunel University, MAHLE Powertrain and University College London studied the combined effects of different inlet valve operating strategies on combustion, performance and emissions with different ethanol and 1-butanol blends with gasoline in a single-cylinder spark-ignition research engine equipped with a fully variable valvetrain. Their paper is published... Read more →

HEDGE-III will investigate solutions to the primary barriers to high efficiency in gasoline engines. Source: SwRI. Click to enlarge. Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has launched its third cooperative research program aimed at developing a high-efficiency gasoline engine for the light-duty automotive and medium-duty engine markets. This four-year effort will expand... Read more →

Variation of indicated thermal efficiency with increased EER at 3500 rpm and light load. Zhuang and Hong, 2013. Click to enlarge. A new study by researchers at the University of Technology, Sydney (Australia) is contributing more detail on the leveraging effect of combining ethanol direct injection with gasoline port injection... Read more →

SAE High Octane Fuels Symposium: Is a new high-octane fuel a pragmatic pathway for higher engine efficiency in the US? (part 2)

As highlighted at the 2013 SAE International High Octane Fuels Symposium (HOF) last week, high octane fuels—combined with optimized engines—are viable enablers to higher efficiency operation. When ethanol is used as the octane enhancer, there is an added benefit due to the latent heat of vaporization of that fuel. (Earlier... Read more →

2013 SAE International High Octane Fuels Symposium: the potential for high octane fuels (Part 1)

The 2013 SAE International High Octane Fuels Symposium (HOFS) this week in Washington, DC, explored the pros and the cons of high octane fuels, with a particular focus on using ethanol as the source of the octane improvement. The “obvious driver” for the consideration of a high octane fuel (HOF),... Read more →

Ford researchers suggest using higher ethanol blends to boost the minimum octane number of regular-grade gasoline

Using higher volume blends of ethanol to leverage the alcohol’s inherent high octane rating to produce ethanol-gasoline blends with higher octane numbers could yield “substantial societal benefits”, according to a team of researchers from Ford Motor Company. Currently, ethanol is blended into a gasoline blendstock formulated with lower octane rating... Read more →