Variable Air Composition with Polymer Membrane - A New Low Emissions Tool
Air can be enriched with oxygen and/or nitrogen by selective permeation through a nonporous polymer membrane; this concept offers numerous potential benefits for piston engines. The use of oxygen-enriched intake air can significantly reduce exhaust emissions (except NOx), improve power density, lessen ignition delay, and allow the use of lower-grade fuels. The use of nitrogen-enriched air as a diluent can lessen NOx emissions and may be considered an alternative to exhaust gas recirculation (EGR). Nitrogen-enriched air can also be used to generate a monatomic-nitrogen stream, with nonthermal plasma, to treat exhaust NOx. With such synergistic use of variable air composition from an on-board polymer membrane, many emissions problems can be solved effectively. This paper presents an overview of different applications of air separation membranes for diesel and spark-ignition engines. Membrane characteristics and operating requirements are examined for use in automotive engines.