21 March 2006
To boost the development of the ethanol approach, IFP is involved in various projects designed to find new ways to produce and incorporate it in the fuel mix, as well as to extend and optimize its use in vehicles.
For example, in the context of the European Nile project, IFP is working actively on the development of a new way to produce ethanol from lignocellulose biomass (wood residues, straw). IFP is also examining the incorporation of ethanol in diesel fuel via a vegetable oil ethyl ester (VOEE), which is produced by replacing methanol by ethanol in ester production processes. This approach is particularly promising for "100% bio" diesel biofuel production.
IFP is also studying the various approaches to using ethanol in gasoline engines, either as a "pure" product in a flex-fuel vehicle (FFV) or dedicated vehicle (85% and 100% ethanol, respectively) or in mixtures at low concentrations. The objective of this work is to optimize the running of the engine with ethanol in terms of pollutant emissions, fuel economy and CO2 emissions.
In connection with this, IFP has just developed a demonstrator, based on a Smart engine, specially designed to run on ethanol alone. To provide optimal conditions for the use of ethanol, IFP applied one of its innovative technologies based on the engine downsizing principle. In this approach, developed by IFP over the last decade, the engine is made smaller and at the same time turbocharged to maintain its original performance. Furthermore, the compression ratio and injection systems were also optimized. Together, these optimizations, aimed at deriving maximum benefit from the properties of ethanol, have led to highly significant improvements in fuel economy.
The technical and environmental performance of this development engine is significantly better than that of the gasoline engine: 15% more power and torque, a large reduction of pollutant emissions (CO, HC, NOx), especially at high load, and 9% lower CO2 emissions in the standardized cycle. In terms of global CO2 balance, well to wheel, the absorption of CO2 by growing plants makes this approach one of the most effective.
In addition, in partnership with the ADEME, IFP has studied the direct incorporation of ethanol in gasolines, in mixtures at low concentrations. In Europe, the direct incorporation of up to 5% ethanol in gasoline is currently allowed. The study yielded very precise information about the consequences of incorporating ethanol in gasolines, both on exhaust emissions and on emissions by evaporation and suggested ways of limiting the increase in volatility.
Lastly, IFP is now starting a study, again in partnership with the ADEME, of flex-fuel vehicles (FFV) with specially adapted engines that can burn standard gasoline, gasoline containing 85% ethanol, or any type of gasoline having an ethanol content between 0 and 85%, in a transparent manner for the user. The aim of this study is to establish a complete environmental assessment of this type of vehicle, particularly regarding emissions of both regulated and unregulated pollutants.
IFP is an active player in the development of ethanol as a motor fuel which, in the same way as the ETBE, constitutes a highly promising approach to combating rising emissions of greenhouse gases (the CO2 balance is very good) and reducing dependency on imported oil as a source of energy. The number of ways ethanol can be used should favor the gradual development of the approach and help increase the share of biofuels in the transport sector energy mix, to meet the ambitious incorporation targets set by the French authorities.
More information : IFP and biofuels
IFP is a research and industrial development, training, and information services center active in hydrocarbons (oil and gas), their uses - in particular by vehicles -, and new energy and environmental technologies (production of fuels from biomass, biofuels, hydrogen, capture and storage of CO2, etc.).
Facing major challenges in the international energy sector - renewing oil reserves, strengthening the energy mix, and combating climate change - IFP aims to innovate, develop and transfer technologies with which to supply energy to meet growing world needs, in the transport and petrochemicals sectors, lastingly and without harm to the environment, for the whole of the 21st century.
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