West Virginia University’s Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions has completed research on the effects of nanoscale catalysts on the fuel economy of military combat and tactical ground vehicles – and the implications could mean huge financial savings for America’s defense and another significant step toward overall energy efficiency.

“If the Department of Defense can achieve a 2 percent improvement in fuel economy, that’s huge,” CAFEE Director Dan Carder said. “The DoD is the single largest user of petroleum in the United States.”

The study, done for the U.S. Department of Defense and ManTech International, hypothesized that nanoscale fuel-borne catalysts – such as platinum, cerium and other metallo-organic additives – could be combined with traditional engine fuel as catalysts to improve fuel efficiency. A catalyst is a material that facilitates and speeds up a chemical reaction without chemically changing the catalyst itself. Under varying conditions, the fuel economy was then measured.

“These are microscopic additives that are added to fuel,” Carder said. “When mixed with gasoline, the effects of FBCs within a combustion chamber – such as water bubbles, which rupture – alter a vehicle’s emissions and its fuel economy.”

The test engine for engine dynamometer studies was provided by the U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center, and the test vehicles for chassis dynamometer tests were donated by the West Virginia National Guard. The catalysts were supplied by NanoBonus and Clean Diesel Technology Incorporated. Test cycles, representative of typical driving patterns for a Humvee were also developed by CAFEE.

“What this type of research is trying to do, essentially, is make an already highly efficient engine combustion process even more efficient,” Carder said. “We’re trying to tweak it an extra few percent.”

And the results?

“One of the additives definitely had a positive effect and we recorded reduced emissions,” said Carder. “Some of the research also showed fuel economy improvements from the various study standpoints.”

The research was CAFEE’s first project with ManTech International, a Washington, D.C.-based defense contractor.

“From this research, we have already developed other interests with ManTech – and we’re now looking at joint research program with the company,” Carder said.

CAFEE, a part of WVU’s Advanced Energy Institute is a worldwide leader in the research and development of improved transportation and power system efficiency, while working toward a cleaner environment.

CAFEE research appeals to both equipment manufacturers, who must certify their vehicles to meet government emissions performance standards, and government agencies, which are charged with enforcing such regulations.

The center has received research funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, major engine manufacturers, the California Air Resources Board, fuel providers and several state and municipal transit agencies.

-WVU-

sg/gg/12/16/11

CONTACT: Dan Carder; Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions
304.293.0650; Dan.Carder@mail.wvu.edu

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