diesel testing reveals emission reduction potential

Preliminary evaluations of diesel fuels produced from natural gas and coal using advanced Fischer-Tropsch (F-T) processing technology show promising emissions results, with the potential to qualify as commercially viable, clean diesel fuels, according to a recent release from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, USA.

Test fuels, provided by three major industrial participants and produced using different raw materials and processes, yielded similar results in a heavy-duty diesel engine. Results included a 20 percent reduction in hydrocarbons, a 36 percent reduction in CO, a 4 percent reduction in NOx levels, and a 26 percent reduction in particulate emissions when compared to a 10 percent aromatic, 50 cetane number reformulated diesel fuel. The benefits were more pronounced when compared to a current national average diesel fuel. In this case, the F-T fuels produced a 38 percent reduction in hydrocarbons, a 46 percent reduction in CO, an 8 percent drop in NOx and a 30 percent reduction in particulates.

The tests are being conducted at Southwest Research Institute under a contract from the Bechtel Corp., in cooperation with the US Department of Energy and three industrial participants. F-T technology was developed in the early 1920s by two German scientists, Franz Fischer and Hans Tropsch, who succeeded in converting coal to synthetic liquid fuels. The process was further improved in Germany during WWII. Most recently, F-T research by the industrial participants in the areas of syngas production, catalysis, and reactor design has significantly improved the quality of F-T fuels.