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Thermochemical Recuperation to Enable Efficient Ammonia-Diesel Dual-Fuel Combustion in a Compression Ignition Engine


A thermochemical recuperation (TCR) reactor was developed and experimentally evaluated with the objective to improve dual-fuel diesel–ammonia compression ignition engines. The novel system simultaneously decomposed ammonia into a hydrogen-containing mixture to allow high diesel fuel replacement ratios and oxidized unburned ammonia emissions in the exhaust, overcoming two key shortcomings of ammonia combustion in engines from the previous literature. In the experimental work, a multi-cylinder compression ignition engine was operated in dual-fuel mode using intake-fumigated ammonia and hydrogen mixtures as the secondary fuel. A full-scale catalytic TCR reactor was constructed and generated the fuel used in the engine experiments. The results show that up to 55% of the total fuel energy was provided by ammonia on a lower heating value basis. Overall engine brake thermal efficiency increased for modes with a high exhaust temperature where ammonia decomposition conversion in the TCR reactor was high but decreased for all other modes due to poor combustion efficiency. Hydrocarbon and soot emissions were shown to increase with the replacement ratio for all modes due to lower combustion temperatures and in-cylinder oxidation processes in the late part of heat release. Engine-out oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions decreased with increasing diesel replacement levels for all engine modes. A higher concentration of unburned ammonia was measured in the exhaust with increasing replacement ratios. This unburned ammonia predominantly oxidized to NOx species over the oxidation catalyst used within the TCR reactor. Ammonia substitution thus increased post-TCR reactor ammonia and NOx emissions in this work. The results show, however, that engine-out NH3 -to-NOx ratios were suitable for passive selective catalytic reduction, thus demonstrating that both ammonia and NOx from the engine could be readily converted to N2 if the appropriate catalyst were used in the TCR reactor.

Funding source: This project was sponsored by the Legislative Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources under the Minnesota Legislature 2016 Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF), Chp. 186, Sec. 2, Subd. 07c.
Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: United States

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