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Technical Paper

Integration of an E85 Reforming System into a Vehicle-Ready Package and Project Results

Ethanol can be converted into a 1:1:1 mixture of H2, CO, and CH4 at 300°C using a copper-nickel catalyst, a process known as “low-temperature ethanol reforming.” The hydrogen content of this mixture enables an engine to operate lean or with high levels of EGR, improving fuel economy and emissions. An onboard ethanol reformer- a catalyst module providing heat exchange with exhaust-was recently reported and shown to exhibit stable high conversion of ethanol driven by exhaust heat. This paper describes the successful integration and operation of a Ford 3.5L 3 TiVCT flex-fuel engine with a compact reformer and auxiliary hardware, fueled by E85. The system constitutes an integrated power system suitable for vehicle integration. The engine was operated on a mixture of E85 and reformate using a stoichiometric air-fuel ratio with internal EGR at a 12:1 compression ratio.
Technical Paper

Low-Temperature Ethanol Reforming: A Multi-Cylinder Engine Demonstration

It has been previously reported that ethanol can be reformed at around 300°C to a mixture of hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and methane using copper-plated nickel catalyst. This low reforming temperature enables heat to be supplied from the engine exhaust. Single-cylinder engine testing demonstrated that this gaseous mixture of "ethanol reformate" enhances engine combustion and part load dilution capability, which decreases fuel consumption while also reducing feedgas NOx emissions. In addition, excellent cold start capability with significantly reduced hydrocarbon emissions was observed. Thus, ethanol reformate has the potential to address two major barriers to wider use of ethanol as an engine fuel: ethanol's low heating value per volume and higher hydrocarbon emissions at startup relative to gasoline. In this study, the dilute capability of a multi-cylinder engine was assessed using a mixture of 50% reformate and 50% E85 on a mass basis at several key part load operating points.