Title: Onboard plasmatron generation of hydrogen for extremely low emission vehicles with internal combustion engines

Authors: D.R. Cohn, A. Rabinovich, C.H. Titus

Addresses: Plasma Fusion Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 161 Albany Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA. ' Plasma Fusion Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 161 Albany Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA. ' T & R Associates, Wayne, Pennsylvania 19087, USA

Abstract: Plasmatron-internal combustion engine systems could be used to provide very large reductions in pollutant emissions from vehicles using gasoline and other fuels. Plasmatron devices could convert polluting and lower cost fuels into higher quality, cleaner burning hydrogen-rich gas (hydrogen and carbon monoxide). Compact plasmatron units could provide highly controllable electrical heating of ionized mixtures of gasoline and air thereby facilitating production of high-purity hydrogen-rich gas by partial oxidation. Hydrogen-rich gas and hydrogen-rich gas/gasoline mixtures would then be combusted in internal combustion engines operated with very lean fuel/air mixtures (equivalence ratios of 0.5 to 0.7). The electricity required by the plasmatron would be provided by a generator driven by the engine. The increased engine efficiency provided by the use of the hydrogen-rich gas could compensate for the power loss resulting from the plasma-boosted partial oxidation process. Overall emissions levels of NOx, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons could be extremely low relative to present vehicles with three-way catalytic converters. NOx levels could be reduced by factors of 10 to 100. Key feasibility issues that must be investigated include plasmatron energy requirements, purity of plasmatron-generated hydrogen-rich gas and plasmatron electrode lifetime.

Keywords: hydrogen-rich gas; internal combustion engines; lean fuel-air mixtures; plasmatron generation; pollution reduction; air pollution; hydrogen; low emission vehicles; vehicle emissions; carbon monoxide; electrode lifetime.

DOI: 10.1504/IJVD.1996.061884

International Journal of Vehicle Design, 1996 Vol.17 No.5/6, pp.550 - 561

Available online: 28 May 2014 *

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