While electric vehicles find their footing, an aftermarket supplier is looking to find ways to bridge the gap and reduce emissions of the most common vehicle type.
Tenneco is moving to find ways to improve fuel efficiency and reduce carbon emissions by finding a way to make synthetic fuels (or e-fuels) a viable near-term solution to maximize efficiency and minimize the carbon footprint of internal combustion engines (ICE).
The company announced July 22 that its Powertrain business group is partnering with key academic and industry experts to explore technical possibilities and the commercial feasibility of e-fuels to help the industry move towards climate-neutral transportation. It referred to the collaborative effort as the NAMOSYN project.
“Synthetic fuels for passenger vehicles, commercial trucks or even marine applications can play an important role in achieving a near zero emissions mobility, by using renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind power, to create a closed CO2 cycle when viewed from a holistic ‘well-to-wheel’ perspective,” Tenneco said in an announcement. “A climate-neutral alternative to petroleum-based fuels, they also offer the potential for significantly reduced overall emissions, allowing Tenneco’s Clean Air experts to better manage any remaining pollutants through the aftertreatment process.”
E-fuels are climate-neutral and synthetically produced. They can be used in the same gasoline and diesel engines used today with minor modifications.
“This makes them particularly suitable for vehicles with traditional ICE as well as alternative powertrains such as hybrids,” Tenneco pointed out. “Additionally, the e-fuels can be made available to consumers by using mostly the existing, well-developed fuel distribution and filling station infrastructure with only minor adjustments, making the technology even more appealing as a near-term, fast-to-market solution.”
Because ICE are found in machines beyond personal and commercial vehicles — such as marine propulsion, agricultural machinery and construction equipment — solutions to reduce the carbon footprint of vehicles need to be found, said Dr. Steffen Hoppe, director of global technology for piston rings and cylinder liners at Tenneco’s Powertrain business group in Germany.
“Regardless of the differing opinions when full electrification will be reached, any technology that we can adopt now that enables a significant reduction in CO2 emissions, or even CO2-neutral operation of the IC engine, will be an essential contributor to the timely achievement of climate targets,” he observed. “We are excited to be an active part in the development of this type of technology.”
Synthetic fuels are produced using electricity that is generated from carbon-neutral renewable sources to minimize climate impacting emissions, Tenneco’s announcement noted.
“It’s important that e-fuels have favourable combustion properties so that an ICE can be operated as efficiently as possible and local pollutant emissions can be kept low,” the company added. “One of the advantages of synthetic fuels is that their composition can be developed specifically to meet the needs and different performance requirements of their applications. In order to achieve the highest possible efficiency, e.g. via so-called lean combustion, adjustments to engine control and hardware are necessary, depending on the engine type.”