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Office of Naval Research awards UW-Madison ERC $2M grant to develop model to characterize performance of drop-in renewable fuels

The US Office of Naval Research (ONR) has awarded a team led by Dr. Rolf Reitz at the University of Wisconsin-Madison a $2-million grant to develop a tool to characterize the performance of hydrogenated vegetable oil (HVO) drop-in fuels.

Every fuel has a unique combination of traits, including heat of combustion, initiation of combustion, and how the different components interact. As an alternative to expensive, time-consuming tests of each of these traits for every candidate fuel, the UW-Madison project will create a tool for modeling fuel properties.

Reitz and colleagues at the UW-Madison Engine Research Center will use the distribution of fuel components to predict a fuel’s performance in an engine. Reitz’s team will characterize how the proportion of aromatic compounds in a fuel affects its behavior in the Engine Research Center suite of test engines.

With rigorous experimentation on a variety of fuels, Reitz says the team can create a world-class model that predicts a fuel’s behavior based solely on its chemical breakdown, allowing the Navy—and eventually, anyone else—to select more easily the most application-appropriate HVO blend.

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