Internal Combustion Engines Can Help Lower GHG Emissions

Discussion in 'Technology' started by Metastable, Feb 12, 2021.

  1. Metastable

    Metastable Formula Junior

    May 4, 2018
    #1 Metastable, Feb 12, 2021
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2021
    Here is an article I published recently. Unfortunately the images don’t carry over..... and neither does the proper formatting.... so superscripts and subscripts are not distinguishable anymore. Let me know what you think.

    (February 6, 2021 – Note: Thoughts expressed in this article are strictly from the author and not affiliated with any organization he is involved with. Furthermore, the author is not responsible for any errors or omissions. Please seek clarification from the regulatory bodies or companies discussed. All images are the property of the author and cannot be used without consent.)

    Yes – I am a motoring enthusiast. As spring winds thaw a long Canadian winter my wife will wonder why I am sitting on the couch making vroom vroom noises in anticipation of warmer days. With the internal combustion engine demise on the horizon, maybe there is a better way forward.
    You may have learned recently; various automotive companies are pledging to go “all electric” by 2030. Plus, many jurisdictions have banned the sale of internal combustion engines (ICE) by 2030 - 2035. However, as budding fuel alternatives come to market, maybe there are better ways of producing energy to propel vehicles. With the correct fuel, ICE engines can improve Greenhouse Gas reduction efforts when compared to electric vehicles.

    We will look at the following fuel/power replacement options for internal combustion engines:
    - Solid Oxide Fuel Cell – Improving EVs
    - Diesel Replacement
    - Natural Gas/Propane/Diesel Replacement
    - Gasoline Replacement

    Solid Oxide Fuel Cell – Improving EVs

    California Air Research Board (CARB) has been a pioneer in developing metrics to measure Carbon Intensity (CI). CI is measured in grams of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) equivalent/megajoule (gCO2e/MJ). It is based on a full life cycle of the fuel or energy source being used.

    CI scores for electric grid and Electric Vehicles (EVs) in California:

    - California Electric Grid 2019 = 81.49 gCO2e/MJ 1
    - EV in California = 24 gCO2e/MJ 1

    Why does an EV in California have a CI score lower than grid power? Simply put - EVs require less energy output compared to gasoline powered vehicles. Therefore, when an EV’s CI score is being calculated, CARB issues a -58 CI credit to compensate for less energy requirement for an EV to move the same distance as an ICE vehicle (CI of EV = 82 – 58 = 24). Nissan has taken it a step further. An EV can achieve carbon neutrality if a Solid Oxide Fuel Cell is used in conjunction with a biofuel.

    Solid Oxide Technology Brief 2:
    - A reformer in the fuel cell system produces hydrogen from bioethanol.
    - The fuel cell uses hydrogen to produce electricity.
    - This electricity charges the vehicle’s battery.
    - The battery powers an electric motor.

    A vehicle that runs on a solid oxide fuel cell and battery combo can be charged at an electrical charging station just like an EV. More interestingly, a fuel cell can enable the vehicle to be carbon neutral or near neutral (better than EV). When the solid oxide fuel cell is in use, a small amount of CO2 is emitted. However, since the carbon source comes from a low CI biofuel, those plants have already captured CO2 when growing. Furthermore, the use of a biofuel such as bioethanol will allow for increased range and quick fill-ups on long journeys. In countries like Brazil, where ethanol pumps are available at every gas station, the infrastructure does not need improvement.

    Diesel Replacement

    The most direct diesel replacement is HDRD (Hydrogen-Derived Renewable Diesel or RD for short). RD can be created by hydrogenating typical biodiesel feedstocks such as vegetable oils, animal fats and algae. Because RD meets ASTM D 975 (diesel standard), RD can be used as a direct replacement for diesel. Volvo Trucks and Mack Trucks have approved the use of HDRD in their engines without requiring modifications.3. Unfortunately, because of high capital expenditure costs, RD is not produced in many parts of the world.

    On the other hand, biodiesel is made by using methanol in a transesterification process creating glycerin as a byproduct. The biodiesel feedstocks can greatly affect the carbon intensity score. Engine manufacturers will typically approve the use of B5 up to B20 (i.e. 5% biodiesel blend up to 20% biodiesel blend). As of 2021 GM, Dodge (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) and Ford have all approved engines capable of B20 consumption in their light duty truck/vehicle fleets. 4

    CI of RD and Biodiesel:

    - Waste and Cooking Oil Biodiesel = 23 gCO2e/MJ 1
    - Soybean Biodiesel = 83.3 gCO2e/MJ 5,6
    - HDRD = 28.4 gCO2e/MJ 5,6

    Natural Gas/Propane/Diesel Replacement

    Since the same category of vehicles can be outfitted with engines running on either Natural Gas, Propane or Diesel, the following renewable fuel options are applicable to the commercial truck, bus and marine market segments.

    Renewable sources of natural gas (RNG) can also come from a variety of feedstock streams and be a direct replacement for Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) or Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).

    CI of RNG streams:

    - RNG landfill gas = 20.1 5,6 to 57 gCO2e/MJ 1
    - RNG wastewater sludge = 8.6 gCO2e/MJ 5,6
    - RNG food waste = 25.5 gCO2e/MJ 5,6

    One of the problems with burning any fuel is having Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) as a byproduct of combustion. Cummins has developed Near Zero NOx engines that will run on natural gas or RNG. These engines produce 90% less NOx emissions than the 0.2 g/bhp-hr Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) limit. 7

    When it comes to propane alternatives the new kid on the block is renewable Dimethyl Ether (rDME). rDME can be blended with propane up to 20%. Oberon fuels from California has developed a process for producing rDME from various feedstocks; however, the manure stream offers the greatest CI reduction. 8

    CI of rDME and blended propane:

    - rDME from manure = -278 gCO2e/MJ 9
    - Propane = 83 gCO2e/MJ 9
    - 20% rDME blended with propane = 11 gCO2e/MJ (with r-propane CI = 0 might be possible) 8,9
    - 20% blended propane using manure rDME has a reduction of 8 times or about 12% of gasoline and
    diesel CI scores

    rDME Technology Brief:
    - Biogas feedstock with up to 50% CO2 content is converted to syngas (synthesis gas is a fuel gas) 8
    - Syngas is converted to Methanol, which is then converted to rDME and water 8

    Gasoline Replacement 10,11

    For motoring enthusiasts, a carbon neutral gasoline replacement is the most exciting fuel alternative. Porsche and Siemens Energy have recently announced the start-up of a carbon neutral fuel plant called the Haru Oni project. The final product has been named eFuel and YES, you can fill up your 1985 “fun car” with eFuel without making any changes to the engine. So how is this even possible?

    eFuel Technology Brief:
    - First, carbon neutral electricity is generated. In the case of the Haru Oni project, wind power will be the main source of electricity. However, as shown in this article, other carbon neutral alternatives are possible for future eFuel projects.
    - Electricity generated is then used to split water molecules from H2O to hydrogen and oxygen in an electrolysis process.
    - This next step is critical to obtain carbon neutrality. Carbon dioxide is direct captured from the atmosphere. Effectively, CO2 is the carbon source for the fuel. So, when eFuel is being used, the carbon released into the atmosphere was already negated by to CO2 capture process.
    - So now we have CO2 and H2 which create methanol and water (CO2 + 3H2 -> CH3OH + H2O). Note how this is a similar process when obtaining the methanol for rDME.
    - Once the methanol is created a process developed by Exxon/Mobile will transform methanol to gasoline.

    The Haru Oni project is expected to produce 130,000 liters of eFuel by 2022 with capacity ramping up to 550 million liters of eFuel by 2026.


    Considering the carbon neutral or near neutral technologies coming to market, lawmakers and certain companies may be short sited by pushing an “all-electric” agenda. Instead of banning the internal combustion engine, we need to look at the big picture. There are solutions SUPERIOR to using grid electricity as a clean source of power generation for automobiles and heavy transport. Many of these solutions will not require a significant change to existing fueling infrastructure. In addition, many parts of the world are not setup to meet a large spike in electricity grid demands which will be generated by stopping the sale of “fun cars”. Hopefully governments will change planned ICE bans, to facilitate meeting their GHG targets.

    1 – “LCFS Basics”
    2 – “Nissan unveils world’s first Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Vehicle” August 4, 2016
    3 – Gladstein, Neandross & Associates (GNA) “Renewable Diesel as a Major Transportation Fuel in California” August 2017
    4 – Advanced Biofuels USA “Now is the Time to Cut Carbon with Biodiesel, Renewable Diesel” January 21, 2021
    5 – Gladstein, Neandross & Associates (GNA) “Game Changer” May 2016
    6 –
    7 –
    8 –
    9 – Green Car Congress “Oberon Fuels partners with SHV Energy to accelerate use of renewable DME (rDME) for low-carbon propane” February 12, 2020
    10 – “Porsche and Siemens Energy, with partners, advance climate-neutral eFuels development” December 13, 2020
    11 – Gerhard Neubert ( “Fuel from wind and sun” December 17, 2020
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  3. Bas Jaski

    Bas Jaski Three Time F1 World Champ

    Mar 24, 2008
    South Pacific
    Full Name:
    Give it another 10-15 or so years and governments worldwide will receive their rightful criticism for pushing through EV's and the damage it'll do (mining, child labour, disposal).
  4. JTSE30

    JTSE30 Formula 3
    Silver Subscribed

    Oct 1, 2004
    Austin TX
    Doesn't matter, with all the interruptions to activity worldwide over the past 12 months, CO2 measuring stations worldwide noticed zero difference, no impact, why? Because whatever we contribute is quite insignificant and this planet is ruled by the sun and the stars, we are just along for the ride.

    They recently discovered ancient trees in north Sweden, from 9300 years's tundra now, back then, was quite a bit warmer...that's one of an unlimited number of examples from history that what is going on is quite cyclical.

    here's a take away to help understand relevance:

    These uncovered megafossil remains represent former stands of trees that were later eradicated over many millennia and buried by snow and ice. With a time-lapse rate of -0.6 ° C / 100 m, it was then over 3 ° C warmer than it is today in this region at a time when the atmospheric CO2 concentrations were well below 300 ppm.
    JL350 and Bas Jaski like this.
  5. Bas Jaski

    Bas Jaski Three Time F1 World Champ

    Mar 24, 2008
    South Pacific
    Full Name:

    Funny isn't it. Very few flights, cars barely change in co2 nonsense.

    Yet they'll completely ignore the facts and continue with the masterplan of taxing the air.
  6. maha

    maha Formula 3

    Mar 17, 2014
    dinajpur, bangladesh
    Full Name:
    Continuing to strive for success on the track while also supporting advancements in technology and sustainability, Shell has renewed its long-standing Innovation Partnership with Scuderia Ferrari. The next exciting chapter in this partnership will see Scuderia Ferrari and Shell not only continuing to aim for success on the track through effective product development, but also, developing and implementing solutions that will support in reducing the team’s carbon footprint, helping them to achieve their broader sustainability targets. These plans are in line with Formula One™’s first-ever sustainability strategy, setting the ambitious goal of having a net-zero carbon footprint, both on and off the track, by 2030. Scuderia Ferrari and Shell will continue to work together to improve the team’s V6 turbo-hybrid power unit, which already has a thermal efficiency of close to 50% , making it one of the most efficient engines in the world. The two companies will also work hand-in-hand to define how fuels can be developed for the future, including advanced sustainable biofuels and synthetic liquid fuels, both of which are being explored to help meet Formula One™’s goal of fully sustainable fuels in the Formula One™ car . These learnings and technologies, put to the test on the track, could eventually be used to reduce emissions from road transport. The historic relationship between Shell and Scuderia Ferrari, which dates back to 1929, is one of the most successful and well-recognised in Formula One™ and has delivered significant successes in its long history, with Shell race fuels and lubricants powering Scuderia Ferrari to 10 Constructors’ titles and 12 Drivers’ Championship wins. Throughout this long collaboration, the learnings and innovations taken from the racetrack have been used to develop better products for Shell customers around the world.
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  8. Metastable

    Metastable Formula Junior

    May 4, 2018
    I guess the main point I was trying to make is this:
    Regardless if one believes global warming is an issue or not, if the world decides we should reach carbon neutrality....... going 100% electric is not the BEST/ONLY option. There is a lot of negativity around electric power. Solar panels in the desert kills tortoises and other species, wind farms kill birds, nuclear has it’s issues, hydroelectric can flood and destroy vast sections of land...... and then there is the pollution and mining issues related to specialty metals. There will be advantages and disadvantages to all methods of energy production. Let’s not limit our options without thinking things through.

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