Science Questions

Why are synfuels cleaner than traditional fuels?

Sun, 19th Jun 2011

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Question

Mykie213 asked:

Why are synfuels cleaner than traditional fuels? Why aren't they used more?

Answer

Dermot -  They're cleaner because your starting point is essentially pure hydrogen and carbon monoxide, so you've got no sulphur in there.  As long as you're blowing your gasification with oxygen rather than air you've got no nitrogen in there to give you oxides of nitrogen, so you really ought to be able to synthesise a designer fuel, which is effectively what you do.  It can be a diesel type fuel, a petrol type fuel, an equivalent of jet kerosene for aircrafts... Ultimately the car companies would like to make an engine that's a combination of a spark ignition engine and a compression ignition engine. They'll specify exactly what properties they want the fuel to have and we can make that.

Ben -   So by spark ignition you mean - petrol engines are spark ignition, but the compression...

Dermot -   Yes, diesel engines are compression engines and they would like to get away from that situation.  We have to make two types of engine for two types of vehicle and just make one fuel that has the advantages of both. They'll specify exactly how they want that fuel to perform and we synthesise that.

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