SBIR Phase I: Development of a Stoichiometric, Direct-Injected, Soot-Free Engine for Heavy-Duty Applications

Period of Performance: 07/01/2017 - 06/30/2018

$225K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

ClearFlame Engines, Inc.
6520 Double Eagle Drive #527 Array
Woodridge, IL 60517
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Abstract

This SBIR Phase I project will focus on the development of a new alternative to Diesel engines for use in heavy-duty applications such as on-road transportation, off-road farm equipment, and stationary power generation. Currently, Diesel engines are used in all of these applications because they are robust and powerful. Unfortunately, they also produce significant smog, soot, and greenhouse gases that are damaging to individuals and the environment. In contrast, the engines developed under this project will have cleaner exhaust while producing more power at increased efficiency, all while utilizing inexpensive alternative fuels. Since Diesel-fueled engines move 70% of the world's goods, and produce 30% of distributed power around the globe, these engines are inextricably linked to quality of life, and transformational improvements in their operation can have a large, broad, positive impact on society. This project's new engines will continue to provide essential services, but in a way that reduces operating costs (creating savings that can be passed on to consumers) and emissions (further saving consumers money, and improving air quality in heavily-trafficked regions). These engines will fulfill a critical market need for clean, powerful engine solutions, and can be integrated into existing American-made engine product lines, increasing manufacturing revenue, stimulating job creation, and ensuring that the United States will remain a global leader heavy-duty engine production. This project will focus on enabling these clean, powerful engines by developing a novel, high-temperature combustion system that allows traditional engines to be adapted to burn alternative fuels in an efficient and soot-free manner. This requires integration of a unique combination of technologies, joined in a way that provides benefits far greater than those that can be achieved with the individual components in isolation. Removing any piece from this specific combination drastically reduces performance. Because each component plays a critical role, this project has high risk (as each subsystem must function properly), but its sophistication also presents a high barrier to similar efforts (since incorrect use of any component yields significantly worse results). This project will build on previous proof-of-concept data that verified the feasibility of this concept, and will focus on the development of key engine subsystems, seeking to mitigate risk enough that investment from the private sector is possible. At the end of the project, the subsystems will be integrated into a stationary power generator as a retrofit to an existing Diesel engine, adapting it for alternative fuel use. This would serve as a prototype platform for the technology?illustrating its increased efficiency and power, along with reduced emissions?and demonstrating the value of the technology to market incumbents, hopefully spurring a licensing arrangement for engine production.