The focus of VKA’s research is the adaption and optimization of combustion processes with the background of special fuel specific properties. Potential for the future is an integrated optimization process of fuel and engine.
Besides the development of gasoline engines for the operation with alcohol based fuels like methanol or ethanol in the early 70’s, the usage of gaseous fuels like natural gas or hydrogen are determined.
Diesel combustion processes for the usage of alternative fuels are also one of the research areas. Latest examples are the process calibrations of different, partly biogenic fuels like vegetable oils or GTL (gas-to-liquid) and BTL (biomass-to-liquid).
Based on an adequate process, advantages regarding efficiency and emissions can be realized. Reversed new fuel property requirements on synthetically created fuels can be defined (tailor-made fuels).
In this context, the approach in the Cluster of Excellence “Tailor-Made Fuels from Biomass (TMFB)” at RWTH Aachen University (Fuel Design Center) considers the molecular structure of the fuel as a potential additional degree of freedom for an optimized sustainable production from biomass and complete usage of the thermo-dynamic potential of internal combustion engines.
Within the TMFB 2-butanone (methyl ethyl ketone) and 2-methylfuran have been identified for the use in highly boosted gasoline engines and enabled significant efficiency increases (> 20 %).
With the Diesel-type fuel candidates 1-octanol and di-n-butyl ether a substantial reduction in soot emissions (-85%) could be achieve compared
to Diesel fuel without sacrificing efficiency, emissions of nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons and noise emissions.