## Independent study confirms cost savings & emissions advantages for heavy-duty trucks running ClearFlame’s engine technology

##### 01 May 2022

ClearFlame Engine Technologies, a startup developing net-zero engine technology (earlier post), announced the publication of an independent study that finds ClearFlame’s technology could help fleet owners and other heavy-duty truck operators lower total costs while meeting sustainability goals sooner than currently available alternatives.

The study was conducted by Gladstein, Neandross & Associates (GNA) and commissioned by ClearFlame, whose investors include Bill Gates-founded Breakthrough Energy Ventures, John Deere, Mercuria, and Clean Energy Ventures.

ClearFlame has developed a technology that allows a heavy-duty engine to continue to operate using MCCI-based combustion when fueled on a wider range of fuels, including ethanol. Historically, clean-burning fuels, and those that are easy to make from waste CO2 streams or syngas, have failed to ignite using MCCI.

ClearFlame’s solution, grounded in technology developed during doctoral studies at Stanford University and validated using more than $3 million in grant funding, addresses this problem by elevating combustion temperatures in order to enable use of non-traditional fuels without sacrificing performance. In fact, it increases power by 25%. Because this technology allows the engine to continue to operate on an MCCI diesel-like cycle, the engine maintains the high thermal efficiency and torque of traditional diesel engines. ClearFlame-based engine technology uses MCCI to maintain diesel engine cycle efficiency and torque Ethanol’s shorter hydrocarbon chains (two-carbon atoms vs diesel’s twelve- carbon atoms) reduce or eliminate soot formation under typical engine conditions. The inherently lower soot forming propensity of ethanol compared to diesel fuel would allow ClearFlame to operate the engine closer to stoichiometric conditions, enabling the use of three-way catalyst (TWC) aftertreatment systems to control NOx emissions. TWC systems are lighter and less expensive than SCR systems, and do not require the use of diesel emission fluid (DEF), resulting in lower capital, operating, and maintenance costs for the aftertreatment system. The ClearFlame system is currently being demonstrated on the Cummins X15 diesel platform through a retrofit strategy that entails the modification of some EGR and intake air components, as well as fuel injectors and other fuel system components. EGR and air flow component modifications An analysis of the expected emissions performance and total cost of ownership for the ClearFlame business model versus diesel, CNG, BEV, and FCV options in the over-the-road heavy-duty truck market presented in this paper indicates that: • The TCO of ClearFlame-based trucks could be, on average,$0.08 per mile lower than diesel trucks in over-the-road applications.

• ClearFlame’s cost per mile in this application is expected to be substantially lower than BEV and FCV platforms, primarily due to the high purchase costs of these platforms.

• ClearFlame’s technology has the potential to reduce well-to-wheels GHGs and tailpipe emissions relative to traditional diesel fuel significantly. ClearFlame is estimated to provide a 42% lifecycle carbon reduction compared with diesel, as well as approximately 22% lower GHG than battery electric vehicles based on the national average grid mix.

• The cost per mile for battery-electric and fuel-cell technologies in long-haul trucking is currently high, making technologies like ClearFlame important options to immediately provide cost-effective GHG and tailpipe emissions reductions.

The TCO analysis was conducted when diesel fuel’s national average was $3.48 per gallon in October 2021 and found that ClearFlame-enabled trucks would have a lower TCO than diesel by$0.08 per mile, lower than natural gas by $0.09 per mile, lower than electric by$0.97 per mile, and lower than hydrogen platforms by $0.61 per mile. The report also highlights the potential for even greater GHG reductions using other feed sources developed by the ethanol industry with lower carbon intensities. For instance, further improvement to ethanol production processes—such as utilizing more corn fiber and stover, or adding carbon capture to production facilities—would result in GHG emissions reductions of 69-83% compared with diesel, depending on the region. The report further highlights that ClearFlame can significantly reduce tailpipe PM2.5 by 99%, DPM by 100%, and SOx by 95% relative to traditional diesel fuel. While ClearFlame’s technology is expected to meet all the same emissions regulations for modern diesel engines, it is also fully expected to meet the stricter standards being enacted by California’s Low NOx Heavy-Duty Omnibus Regulation and proposed by the US EPA, without the additional cost and complexity facing diesel engines. This study clearly shows that ClearFlame’s technology can provide significant and cost-effective GHG and tailpipe emissions reductions in the immediate future. While most of the discussion around sustainable fuels today focuses on compressed natural gas, battery-electric, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, alcohol fuels have the potential to play a valuable role in sustainable transportation. ClearFlame’s engine technology and ethanol fuel supply model could address the historic barriers to the adoption of ethanol fuels in the heavy-duty market. —Patrick Couch,, GNA study author The independent study was commissioned by ClearFlame Technologies and conducted by GNA Clean Transportation & Energy Consultants. ClearFlame was allowed to comment on the study protocol and was provided with a report of the results. The study results were not impacted apart from suggestions for clarification. The model evaluates various platforms in Class 8 over-the-road applications, a market that is assumed to be well suited to the ClearFlame technology as vehicle range, weight, fuel costs, fuel availability, and fueling time are key concerns in this application. The TCO model evaluates the following cost components for each technology: Vehicle Purchase Cost, Federal Excise Tax, State Sales Tax, Vehicle Maintenance, Vehicle Insurance, Fuel Costs, Depreciation Tax Benefits, Incentives (RFS and Low Carbon Fuel Standard), Residual Value. The net cash flow over the useful life of the truck (8 years) is used to calculate the average cost per mile (CPM) for each of the technologies. The average annual mileage for this analysis is 101,000 miles, based on the US EPA MOVES model default value for Class 8 long-haul semi-tractors. ### Comments No matter how; when you burn carbon in air, you produce GNG and smog...BEVs fueled by solar, wind and ground based steam electricity... Don't! This is for heavy-duty, Class 8 over-the-road applications. BEV can handle a large percentage of the applications where range is less than 300 miles. An important note too, “the TCO analysis was conducted when diesel fuel’s national average was$3.48 per gallon in October 2021”. Today’s national average for diesel fuel is \$4.107 (source: https://www.eia.gov/petroleum/gasdiesel/).

Gryf:
The argument is BEVs don't have the range and charging the batteries is time consuming...that's now; but, with today's huge interest and active research in advancing battery technology, I would expect this would no longer be the case by the end of the decade or before...It may be wise and less costly in the long run to move into BEVs now and accept this deficiency, knowing there will be improvement all along the way. Driving ICEVs will surely become more expensive as the demand for fossil fuel decreases and the makers produce fewer ICE vehicles. The oil companies have alway raised prices at any opportunity, as will the vehicle makers to continue profitability during the transition period.

Gryf:
The argument is BEVs don't have the range and charging the batteries is time consuming...that's now; but, with today's huge interest and active research in advancing battery technology, I would expect this would no longer be the case by the end of the decade or before...It may be wise and less costly in the long run to move into BEVs now and accept this deficiency, knowing there will be improvement all along the way. Driving ICEVs will surely become more expensive as the demand for fossil fuel decreases and the makers produce fewer ICE vehicles. The oil companies have alway raised prices at any opportunity, as will the vehicle makers to continue profitability during the transition period.

How much ethanol can we have. Obviously we cant teplace all diesel with ethanol. So ethanol cant be final solution perhaps zinc, sodium or magnesium can be.

Ethanol production consumes about 1/3 of US-grown maize, but produces only about 10% of US gasoline consumption by volume (less by energy).  Obviously, we can't do very much with it... at least not the way we're doing it today.

(Yes, I'll see to it that the spammer gets whacked.)

Use corn stalks

Of course this will not replace all diesel. Today, Class 8 trucks that are not used in long range applications can use batteries. However, there are a few “long range” applications like rail, sustainable aviation fuel, and maybe 20% of the Class 8 trucks that could use ethanol. These do not require as much fuel compared to the 10% of US gasoline consumption.
This is a low investment cost system that has infrastructure already in place. Maize production is using more sustainable methods today, though more can definitely be done.

I might believe that using ethanol is cleaner and cheaper than diesel but what I will not believe is that it is cleaner or cheaper than battery electric. Battery electric might not be ready for long haul trucking but it can certainly be used for local delivery where the typical routes are under 100 miles. My comments on cost are based on owning a Chevy Bolt EV. It cost me about 2.5 cents US per mile to drive (4.3 miles average per kWhr and 11 cents per kWhr -- you do the math) and no scheduled maintenance plus regen takes care of most braking so the brakes do not see much wear.

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