Research emerging from Texas A&M University has identified that the implementation of hydrogen-enriched fuel could significantly mitigate the impacts of carbon emissions.
The research team, led by Dr Muzammil Arshad, instructional assistant professor for the Department of Multidisciplinary Engineering at Texas A&M University, performed a study to examine a spark engine’s efficiency and performance when powered by a hydrogen-enriched fuel, a method that could considerably reduce global carbon emissions.
Environmentally-friendly transport is becoming increasingly frequent, with alternative energy vehicles powered by means of electricity or hydrogen now seen throughout the world in a global quest to combat carbon emissions. Despite this, the vast majority of vehicles seen on our roads today still consist of a spark-ignition engine – otherwise known as an internal combustion engine – which traditionally runs on petrol, further exacerbating already alarming levels of carbon emissions.
Reducing carbon emissions produced by spark-ignition engines
In an effort to combat this global issue, Dr Ashad – assisted by his two multidisciplinary students, Jonathan Rodriguez and Miriam Alanis, tested the effectiveness of dual fuels – such as hydrogen-enriched fuels, on spark-ignition engines to analyse the potential benefits in our battle against carbon emissions.
Arsha said: “Due to climate change as well as a focus on reduced emissions and deprivation of fossil fuel reserves, there has been immense research to reduce emissions. This has led to investigating effects of dual fuels on the emissions as well as engine performance parameters because we don’t want to lose the combustion characteristics by injecting a secondary fuel.”
The team’s research was accepted into the US Annual combustion meeting and published in the Petroleum and Chemical Industry International journal.
Alanis commented: “I think presenting at the conference was wonderful. From the study, we were able to produce tangible results that could potentially be meaningful and useful.”
“We have performed numerical simulations to understand and predict the performance of spark ignition engines by introducing hydrogen in various quantities and predicting the effect on various efficiencies, in-cylinder pressure and emissions,” added Arshad.
Analysing the effectiveness of hydrogen-enriched fuel
With over 1.4 billion cars on the road – which is expected to rise to over 2 billion by 2035 – the need for a fuel source that does not emit environmentally harmful carbon emissions has never been more paramount. Spark-ignition is the most widely used type of engine globally, powering everything from small cars to large vans. For the spark-ignition engine to achieve movement, petrol combines with air which is ignited by a spark produced by the spark plug, therefore creating combustion; the thermal energy created from this can be turned into kinetic energy by burning the fuel, allowing the car to be driven.
“We have performed numerical simulations to understand and predict the performance of spark ignition engines by introducing hydrogen in various quantities and predicting the effect on various efficiencies, in-cylinder pressure and emissions,” said Arshad.
By supplementing the car with hydrogen-enriched fuel, the team believe that the car will demonstrate an enhanced fuel efficiency and will instead release less harmful emissions, with the team investigating if significant modifications would need to be made to existing spark-ignition engines to facilitate hydrogen-enriched fuel.
Rodriguez said: “Originally, we thought the difference in the in-cylinder pressure due to the enrichment could create issues that would require major alterations to the engine. Our findings show a reduction in the in-cylinder peak pressure, consequently insinuating that we do not need major modifications to the engine to use this dual fuel. This research has potential value in the fuel market while leaving the vehicle market untouched.”
Arshad says he is delighted with the results of the study and will continue to collaborate with students in the future. “Research experience and publications are a major skill they can now showcase on their resumes,” said Arshad. “They also learned skills such as time management, working under pressure, meeting deadlines and presenting in front of large audiences. All of these skills are valuable and will help them in the future.”