Tesla and Sixt Leasing partner in Switzerland; monthly Model S payments start at about US$920
Transport Canada orders removal of least crash-resistant DOT-111 tank cars within 30 days, non-compliant cars within 3 years

Dearman-led consortium awarded $3.1M to develop waste-heat-recovery system using liquid air engine

A consortium led by the Dearman Engine Company has been awarded £1.86 million (US$3.12 million) in the latest round of IDP10 funding from the UK’s Technology Strategy Board to support the development of a heat-recovery system for urban commercial vehicles. The tenth competition under the Low Carbon Vehicles Innovation Platform’s integrated delivery program (IDP), IDP10 is targeting the building of an integrated low-carbon-vehicle innovation chain, from the science base, through collaborative R&D to fleet-level demonstration.

The Dearman project is to deliver a production-feasible waste-heat recovery system for urban commercial vehicles, which offers life-cycle CO2 savings of up to 40%; fuel savings of 25%, with the potential of up to almost 50%; and potential payback in less than three years. The project uses the Dearman Engine, a highly-efficient liquid nitrogen or air (LiN) engine (earlier post) that harvests low-grade heat sources and, in this configuration, is most effective in urban duty cycles, working with the internal combustion engine (ICE) as a hybrid powertrain.

The Dearman Engine operates by the vaporization and expansion of cryogenic fluids. Ambient or low grade waste heat is used as an energy source with the cryogen providing both the working fluid and heat sink. The Dearman Engine process involves the heat being introduced to the cryogenic fluid (liquid air or nitrogen) through direct contact heat exchange with a heat exchange fluid (HEF) (water and glycol) inside the engine. The HEF facilitates extremely rapid rates of heat transfer within the engine. This allows injection of the liquid cryogen directly into the engine cylinder whereupon heat transfer occurs via direct contact mixing with the HEF. The heat transfer on injection generates very rapid pressurization in the engine cylinder.

Direct contact heat transfer continues throughout the expansion stroke giving rise to a more efficient near-isothermal expansion. With the pressurization process taking place in the cylinder, the amount of pumping work required to reach a given peak cylinder pressure is reduced. After each expansion cycle the heat exchange fluid is recovered from the exhaust and reheated to ambient temperature via a heat exchanger similar to a conventional radiator.

In January, Dearman announced that it had completed its shakedown testing milestone at the end of 2013 at Imperial College, London, and was moving into a three-month program of tests and performance mapping. (Earlier post.)

Using the Dearman Engine allows efficient use of the waste heat, leading not only to greater economy, but also offering the potential for improved air quality. The technology uses readily-available materials with low embedded carbon, and operates with commercially-available liquid nitrogen, which is readily available and is frequently produced using off-peak electricity,with great potential for storing wrong-time renewables.

The IDP10-funded project will cost £3.25 million (US$5.46 million), £1.9 million (US$3.19 million) of which has come from the Technology Strategy Board grant. Dearman is working with MIRA, Air Products, Productiv, The Manufacturing Technology Centre, CENEX and TRL, bringing together expertise in the Dearman system, industrial gases, ICEs, vehicle systems, legislation and standards and manufacturing. The consortium will deliver an on-vehicle demonstration of the hybrid system over the next two years as well as engage the potential supply, demand and legislative chains.

Liquid air technologies have the potential to significantly reduce well-to-wheel emissions. This exciting project builds on a programme of activity already underway jointly with Dearman and it will validate the use of liquid nitrogen hydride powertrains in urban applications.

—Chris Reeves, Commercial Manager of Future Transport Technologies at MIRA

Liquid air and the Dearman Engine were recently recognised as a potential road transport energy vector by the European Road Transport Advisory Council (ERTRAC). (Earlier post.) ERTRAC is the European technology platform for the road transport industry and is seeking to deliver the accelerated development of sustainable, integrated transport solutions. Called “Energy Carriers for Powertrains”, the ERTRAC report seeks to establish a road map for how the industrialised countries of Europe and elsewhere can reduce the production of greenhouse gases in the road transport sector by up to 80% by 2050 when compared to 1990 levels.

The report identified liquid air as ”an adaptable energy vector which can be created and consumed using traditional mechanical engineering technologies, stored safely in un-pressurised containers, and made from a free abundant raw material.” The report adds that liquid air can be used in many applications to improve or replace existing transport solutions.

Zero emission applications as a primary source is certainly of interest in urban scenarios for light duty, short range applications. For heavy duty applications, it may provide opportunities for more efficient and cost effective waste heat recovery from internal combustion engines

—“Energy Carriers for Powertrains”

Other IDP10 awards. TSB made four other IDP10 awards. These are:

  • About £2 million to a consortium led by Ariel Ltd. to develop a low-volume, ultra-high performance production sports car with zero and low emissions achieved through advanced hybrid technology to be built in low-volume using and expanding a UK technology-led supply-chain.

  • About £2 million to a consortium led by Jaguar Land Rover. Jaguar Land Rover, in partnership with Ford Motor Company Ltd, European Thermodynamics Ltd and Nottingham University, will launch a 3-year program of research in which conventional concepts of engine management of thermal energy will be re-examined using advanced simulation tools, and a novel test engine which will allow the heat available to be directed to the most import components such as the cylinder liner walls.

    Some of the heat that will inevitably escape down the exhaust will be converted into electricity using a thermoelectric generator (TEG). In the longer term, if all the project targets are met, it is believed that a 5% improvement in fuel economy is possible through the conversion and management of heat energy. The project builds on an earlier TSB-funded project.

  • £2.6 million (US$4.37 million) to a consortium led by Lotus Cars to accelerate the maturation of a mechanical flywheel energy storage system from Flybrid for use in a Lotus Evora road car. The integration of the flywheel into the manual gearbox will deliver a CO2 reduction while increasing available power and torque. The project will accelerate the development of the Flywheel, electronic clutch, vehicle integration and control software by the consortium members to a production-intent status.

  • £2.7 million (US$4.54 million) to a consortium led by Torotrak Ltd to research and develop an innovative supply chain processes for the production of key components. These components form part of a range of products that will support vehicle manufacturers to meet their obligations to reduce carbon emissions. The group will evaluate and develop the most appropriate steels that suit the innovative forging processes to ultimately reduce post processing and thus costs and the supply chain lead time. The outcome will then enable industry to exploit the new processes and therefore see the CO2 reducing products into market to support the vehicle manufacturers.



I smelled Ricardo's rat here similar to the 2S/4S BS. Up until now, there is no energy balance being presented to liquify nitrogen. If someone in the UK government can quickly do the energy balance, millions of tax money could have been saved.


Agree with above. LN2 isn't free. A while ago, someone made a car that ran on only LN2; and even said that the lower temperatures enabled using plastic for most of the engine components, resulting in substantial weight savings. (A LN2 car is almost like a compressed air powered car -- short range, toylike, no emissions.)
Also, what's the weight and efficiency of the heat exchange fluid separator on the exhaust stream ? Supposing it only captures 90 percent, the water or glycol tank would have to be topped off regularly. Annoying.


Not correct. A Sino-British study shows that using LN alongside a natural gas turbine (i.e. a baseload turbine alongside satellite gas expansion turbines, to replace banks of different size natgas turbines for variable loads) conserves 25% to 50% of energy. Why? Gas distillation is now done with membrane filters sized to molecular diameter. Oxygen, remaining unliquified, vastly improves the combustion efficiency of the methane. And liquid nitrogen needs very little heat to expand 200x its size back to a gas.

Nitrogen is a byproduct of natural gas liquification, so as much as LNG is being promoted for railroads, rail is the most logical market for liquid nitro engines. Nitrogen is also produced for fertilizer, and straight oxygen will see robust demand for -- what else? -- underground coal gasification, which Britain is also promoting to replace dwindling North Sea oil and gas stock.



Fill me up here, methane boils at -162 c. Nitrogen at -196 c and oxygen at -183 c. Oxygen production using extreme cooling is not efficient as a pressure swing adsorption. Furthermore to additionally cool air to -196 c from oxygen boiling point requires lots of energy. As for nitrogen to be available from LNG facility, this is a news to me. Where did you hear about this? -162 c to -196 is even further away.

To move a truck will require tons of liquid nitrogen to be carried from the LNG facilities that are normally far away from the refilling stations for the truck. Once the liquid nitrogen is turned into gas, you may as well release it to the air because it may become hotter than air. Any idea on how much energy required to move tons of liquid nitrogen instead of gallons of diesel?



I never said to liquify oxygen. Nor do I suggest adsoption is not a competitive way to obtain it. O2 is a byproduct of condensation distillation of atmospheric gas. Same for N2,which can be derived from natural gas wells by way of scrubbing out CO2, which is a corrosive diluent of natural gas, that only takes up space in pipelines. Straight O2 represents about five times atmospheric O2 in the same space: That makes for very intense combustion, and some possibilities of a very rich fuel burn in a controlled and additionally efficient fashion.

As far as the overall economics is concerned, you'll have to ask the people promoting LNG for ships, trains, and trucks, and ask Dearman Engine. Not that I think hauling liquid gas, even LNG, instead of diesel is such an advantage. But LNG by ship is a big industry. Rather than to merely regasify it at a terminal, you could use the liquid form more creatively. Once SOLID N2 was proposed as an efficient refrigerant for boxcars. With the price of liquid gases falling, not so incredible an idea?



i have no issue at all for natural gas to be transported via pipeline or LNG ships. I however have a lot of doubt on the viability of carrying tons of liquid nitrogen to enable truck to move.

The point about oxygen is implying about the oxygen generation where you tried to link it to the nitrogen availability.

The comments to this entry are closed.