Microwave and waste heat reformation holds prospect of improving fuel energy content and reducing CO

Microwave and waste heat reformation holds prospect of improving fuel energy content and reducing CO
01 August 2011

Ricardo is to lead a feasibility study project – HeatWave – in which it will work with QinetiQ to evaluate a novel diesel fuel reformation concept that uses microwaves and waste heat from a heavy vehicle’s exhaust to reform the incoming fuel, increasing its calorific value and hence reducing net carbon dioxide emissions.

HeatWave will take an early stage UK based technology developed by QinetiQ for aerospace APU applications and assess its potential as a low carbon vehicle technology. In the current system, a secondary energy input (currently electrically derived microwave energy) is needed for the reformation process. The HeatWave feasibility project will assess the potential of using high and low level vehicle exhaust heat to drive the reforming process, minimizing the secondary electrical energy draw. A top level assessment will also be made of the potential for the technology to meet automotive performance, durability, integrity and safety requirements. If successful, the project partners believe that HeatWave technology will increase heavy duty vehicle combustion engine efficiency by around 8-10% after allowing for the energy consumed by the reformer.

Commenting on the announcement of the HeatWave project, Nick Owen, project director for research and collaboration at Ricardo UK, said: “HeatWave aims to takes an emerging and very promising technology from the aerospace sector and evaluate its potential as a means of improving fuel efficiency – and hence reducing carbon dioxide emissions – in the economically crucial heavy duty vehicle sector.  We are pleased to be working with QinetiQ on this very interesting project which holds the prospect of delivering a highly valuable disruptive technology that could have significant potential in creating a more sustainable future for heavy duty vehicles.”

HeatWave is one of two projects to be led by Ricardo – out of a total of fifteen announced by the Technology Strategy Board as winners of its recent competition – selected to receive government support to carry out feasibility studies into the development of disruptive low carbon vehicle technology that will challenge current thinking.  For further information see www.innovateuk.org.