Improving Ethanol Life Cycle Energy Efficiency by Direct Utilization of Wet Ethanol in HCCI Engines
Homogenous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI) is a new engine technology with fundamental differences over conventional engines. HCCI engines are intrinsically fuel flexible and can run on low-grade fuels as long as the fuel can be heated to the point of ignition. In particular, HCCI engines can run on “wet ethanol:” ethanol-in-water mixtures with high concentration of water, such as the high water content ethanol-in-water mixture that results from fermentation of corn mash. Considering that much of the energy required for processing fermented ethanol is spent in distillation and dehydration, direct use of wet ethanol in HCCI engines considerably shifts the energy balance in favor of ethanol.