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Super Low Emission Vehicle


Development of the Vehicle Prototype Based on board Reforming of Natural Gas into Synthesis Gas and Providing Super Low Emission and Saving of Fuel

Tech Area / Field

  • ENV-EHS/Environmental Health and Safety/Environment
  • NNE-FCN/Fuel Conversion/Non-Nuclear Energy

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Boreskov Institute of Catalysis, Russia, Novosibirsk reg., Akademgorodok

Supporting institutes

  • VNIIEF, Russia, N. Novgorod reg., Sarov\nState Enterprise "NAMI", Russia, Moscow


  • Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd., Tokyo / Advanced Technology Research Center, Japan, Yokohama\nArgonne National Laboratory (ANL), USA, IL, Argonne\nToyota Tsusho Corporation, Japan, Nagoya

Project summary

Objective and the state of the art

Rapid expansion of automotive vehicles in the advanced countries and their considerable concentration in the urban areas resulted in the considerable fuel demands and exceeding amounts of toxic emission. At present, motor transport is the main source of air pollution in big cities all over the world. The traditional method aimed at reducing of toxic emissions from engines involves the application of expensive catalytic neutralizers, providing CO afterburning and decrease of NOx concentration in off-gases. To our mind, it is reasonable to overcome the above shortcomings by changing to new principles of utilization of hydrocarbon fuels in the spark Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) and by developing a novel engine supplied with chambers (modes) for combustion of lean fuels. However, the application of lean fuel mixtures gives a rise to unstable engine operation. To provide stable operation of ICE, it is reasonable to add hydrogen to lean fuel mixtures. Both foreign and Russian researches have shown in a number of publications that even small hydrogen additives (to 6%) allow one to increase fuel efficiency by 20-40%, regarding the load type. However, utilization of cylinder hydrogen gas in vehicles is rather problematic due to its high explosion and fire risks as well as the absence of developed hydrogen-supply infrastructures. A practical solution is that on-board reforming of gaseous hydrocarbon fuels into hydrogen-containing gas (synthesis gas) during operation of the vehicle ICE. For this purpose, the project participants have developed an experimental catalytic reactor for synthesis gas production relying on the partial oxidation of natural gas. The tests showed that the engine can operate steadily using a lean fuel mixture with additives of synthesis gas. At the same time, the fuel consumption decreased by ~20%. Thus, our tentative experiments confirmed that adding of synthesis gas to liquid and gaseous fuels provides a considerable decrease of carbon and nitrogen oxides concentration in exhaust gases from ICE (which permits one to meet the EURO-4 standards) without using catalytic neutralizers. Besides, the use of synthesis gas provides a 20-25% saving of hydrocarbon fuel due to changing to lean fuel mixtures that keep stable engine operation. Consequently, the main goal of the Project is the development of a vehicle prototype whose operation relies on the new principles of combustion of hydrocarbon fuels in ICE and meets the EURO-4 standards concerning the gas emission.

Technical approach and methodology.

The suggested technical approach implies production of synthesis gas via on-board partial catalytic oxidation of natural gases. Then the as-generated synthesis gas is added to the initial gas mixture supplied to the spark ICE, which provides stable operation of the engine running on lean fuel mixtures, almost zero toxicity of off-gases and reduces the fuel consumption. The project methodology relies on a change of the existing approaches to reduction of toxic emissions and saving of fuel gases at the expense of combustion of hydrocarbon gaseous fuel mixtures enriched with synthesis gas in spark ICE. The method uses the latest advances in the development of new catalysts and reactors for highly exothermal processes, including the processes of conversion of hydrocarbons into synthesis gas, and research data on the operation modes of ICE running on the fuel-air mixtures whose explosive range is lower than that of the traditional hydrocarbon fuels.

Outline scope of activities:

Task 1. Performance of R&D of catalysts for air conversion of natural gas. Preparation of experimental catalyst samples for comparative and life testing.

Task 2. Development of experimental benches for testing of a catalytic reactor producing synthesis gas from natural gas as well as a spark ICE in combination with a synthesis gas reactor.
Task 3. Design, manufacturing and testing of a compact catalytic reactor of synthesis gas producing with an integrated system of startup and internal heat recuperation.
Task 4. Development and manufacturing of component parts for conjugation of the spark ICE and the compact catalytic synthesis gas reactor.
Task 5. Updating of the spark ICE for running on a mixture of natural gas and synthesis gas additives.

Task 6. Studying of operation modes of the spark ICE working on a mixture of natural gas and synthesis gas additives under bench conditions.

Task 7. Preparation of a prototype of the vehicle running on the natural gas supplied with a synthesis gas feeding system of ICE.
Task 8. Performance of demonstration testing of the vehicle working on the mixture of hydrocarbon gases and synthesis gas additives.
Task 9. Presentation of the results obtained under the Project and preparation of suggestions for practical implementation of the Project results.

Expected Results and their Application.

Technical results. We intend to develop, manufacture and test a vehicle prototype running on the mixtures of gas fuels and synthesis gas additives.

Ecological results are associated with the development of a vehicle providing the concentration of CO, NOx and CH4 in off-gases to meet the EURO-4 standards (without three ways catalytic neutralizers) and simultaneous decrease of CO2 emission by 1.5-2 times compared to the gasoline engine.

Economic benefit from the project performance is associated with the prospect of development of an engine propulsion system of the vehicle, which will provide a 20-30% saving of fuel upon its work on lean fuel mixtures due to utilization of new principles of neutralization of waste.

Commercial results rely on the prospects of organization of large-scale production of novel and efficient vehicle families (cars, public transportation utilities, special-purpose vehicles, etc.), characterized by almost zero emission and designed for use in ecologically adverse cities.

Meeting ISTC Goals and Objectives.

In parallel with the solution of research and engineering problems, the Project will successfully solve the ISTC objectives concerning the reorientation of the researchers and engineers earlier engaged in the war industry for long-term production of consumer’s goods. To solve the Project objectives, RFNC-VNIIEF possesses much experience in the design of fuel preparation systems, compact generators of synthesis gas from gaseous hydrocarbons. For RFNC-VNIIEF, the suggested Project will: support the applied investigations of the Institution and design of highly effective technologies for production of novel transport facilities meeting the present-day ecological standards; provide an opportunity of reorientation of the researchers and specialists for peaceful activities; assist in the solution of national and international problems, concerning the development of ecologically pure vehicles; provide workplaces for production of High Technology products.

Role of Foreign Collaborators.

Participation of foreign collaborators implies: joint consultations and discussions of the plans and working results; preparation of joint publications, analysis of the results obtained during the Project performance and presented reports, search of practical implementation of Project results.