Plasma Enhanced Hydrogen Generation from Hydrocarbons: Environmental and Vehicle Efficiency Applications

September 17, 2002 - 12:00pm
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  Plasma enhanced reforming is being commercialized for environmentally protective, non-combustion conversion of waste into hydrogen and other useful products.  The process can be applied to a variety of waste materials.  Plasma Enhanced Melter (PEM) plants produced by Integrated Environmental Technologies (IET) are presently providing an economic, environmentally superior alternative to incineration and landfilling of medical and hazardous industrial waste.  IET is a spinoff from research at Pacific Northwest National Laboratories and MIT.  Conversion of municipal waste in larger units can provide a means to economically generate hydrogen from renewable biomass material.  The hydrogen could be used for clean electric power generation or possibly as a transportation fuel. In the area of vehicle efficiency applications, very compact (~ 2 liter size) plasmatron reformers are being developed at MIT to facilitate lean, high compression ratio gasoline engine operation by addition of a small amount of onboard generated hydrogen.  An attractive new engine concept, the plasmatron enhanced lean boost gasoline engine, is being investigated.  This concept could require only a modest cost increase and could provide a 20 to 25% efficiency increase along with significantly reduced emissions of CO2 and urban air pollutants.  Widespread use of this technology in cars and light duty vehicles, facilitated by its economic attractiveness, could reduce gasoline use by approximately 20 billion gallons a year.  

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