Funding awarded for low carbon waste heat powered microwave fuel reformer research

Funding awarded for low carbon waste heat powered microwave fuel reformer research
03 September 2013


  • Ricardo and QinetiQ will be joined by the University of Brighton in the next phase of their Technology Strategy Board  supported ‘HeatWave’ research
  • Previous feasibility study demonstrated the potential of a microwave diesel fuel reformer system driven in part by waste engine heat, to deliver a cost-competitive five percent economy improvement
  • The HeatWave II project announced today seeks to address key development risks and take the system a crucial step forward towards commercialization


HeatWave is based on technology developed by QinetiQ for aerospace APU applications, to assess its development potential as a low carbon vehicle technology. It combines an innovative fuel reforming concept that is applicable to the global on-highway transport market, generating syngas from diesel fuel to improve overall engine efficiency, while using waste engine heat to offset part of the reformer’s power requirement. This novel system architecture deploys technological building blocks which were shown in the original Ricardo-led feasibility project, commenced in 2011, to provide a fuel economy benefit of around five percent in heavy duty vehicles – and at a competitive cost in comparison with other fuel saving technologies.

The ‘HeatWave II’ project announced today will produce the next level of system validation to deliver a proof of concept demonstration of the technology. To deliver this validation, the partners will focus upon: development of the reformer process in order to demonstrate it at a suitable scale; validation of the effect of reformate syngas on engine performance through engine testing, and development of vehicle systems.

“Following the very promising results of our original HeatWave feasibility study, Ricardo is pleased to be leading the HeatWave II project announced today in which we will join with QinetiQ and the University of Brighton to further research this exciting fuel saving technology,” commented Ricardo chief technology and innovation officer Professor Neville Jackson. “The microwave-based reformation of diesel fuel, harnessing heat that would otherwise be wasted, is a potentially attractive and cost-competitive means of improving the fuel consumption of heavy duty vehicles and hence reducing the carbon footprint of road-based long haul logistics.”

The HeatWave II project is supported by funding from the UK’s innovation agency the Technology Strategy Board, with balancing contributions from the project partners.


A full copy of this press release is available from the link at the top right of this page.