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Production of second-generation bio-fuel and its influence on engine combustion and emissions


To reduce the dependency on fossil fuels and carbon dioxide emissions, implementation of sustainable fuels either as alternative fuels or as blends in conventional fuels is nowadays of great interest. Political decisions on EU and national levels have set demanding targets for this development; e.g. is it in Norway and Denmark a political incentive that all diesel fuels should contain 5 and 5.75% bio-fuels respectively by 2010.

Second-generation bio-fuels hold great scope as they will significantly reduce competition with food producing agricultural and improve overall greenhouse gas emission (GHG) reductions and well-to-wheel energy efficiency. The process of gasification followed by a synthesis process to the desired chemical composition of the bio-fuel offers high flexibility both regarding energy source and end product. This flexibility offers the possibility to decouple the bio-source from food agriculture and to focus on plants with high yields, but also the possibility to use fossil source when suitable, e.g. “stranded” natural gas.

DME, F-T diesel and methanol are such fuels that are believed to be promising components in blends for ultra clean fuels for diesel and gasoline engines. However, differences in their characteristics such as viscosity, cetane numbers and densities complicate the use of such fuels in modern highly optimised internal combustion (IC) engines. These challenges are related to engine performance, fuel consumption and emission levels, and need be addressed in order to ensure the safe and durable use of such fuels in commercial engines. 

Project goal


The technological challenges related to the efficient use of bio-fuels in conventional engines are the focus this project, where experimental and simulation work will advance our knowledge on specific frontiers related high performing bio-based transport fuels. One of the main goals are to deepen our understanding of the relative merits of these fuels’ value chains, between which we could expect that the actual competition will take place as the market gets more mature. 

This proposal intends to systematically investigate the performance of second-generation bio-fuels. A test facility will be developed for parallel studies of different bio-fuels in various state-of-the-art engines provided by the industrial partners. This enables a direct comparative study of the obtained results. 

Furthermore, theoretical investigation will be carried out to deepen the fundamental understanding of the thermo-chemical processes involved. This involves adaption of simulation tools for prediction of combustion and emission formation, to support further technological development.


Key objectives of the project

Differences between the properties of conventional petroleum fuels and bio-fuels significantly affect three critical areas associated with usage in practical applications (car, heavy duty, and industrial engines): engine combustion, performance and emissions. Therefore, the objectives are:


  • to deepen the understanding of combustion of bio-fuels. Second-generation bio-fuels from Nordic feedstock, DME, F-T fuels and low level blending of methanol in gasoline will be primary focus fuels.
  • to investigate the effect of bio-fuel on engine performance including power output, fuel economy, emissions, and engine durability (tribology).
  • to develop a NOx-smoke emissions reduction strategy, which can enable bio-fuels to be used with confidence in a wide range of future applications where compression ignition (diesel) engines are utilized.
  • to contribute to educational training and transfer of knowledge through PhD studentships and MSc projects.

The different fuels and their overall performance will be evaluated with a view to the ability to address European standard EURO5 and EURO6 emission regulations.


Result summary


The BioEng project has addressed challenges related to employing renewable biofuels in state of the art engines. 


Two focus fuels have been tested: bio Fischer-Tropsch and bioDME. This has been done from an experimental and theoretical perspective and focus has been on understanding emission controlling measures. Experiments show reduced levels of particulate matter and NOx, however only when engine controlling parameters such as injection time is adjusted. This has to be accounted for in engine development for flexible use of renewable fuels. 


The modelling has addressed both the development of appropriate descriptions of the chemical composition of the new fuels, as well as carrying out advanced simulations with the aim of understanding the thermochemical processes underlying emission production.


More information


Project duration: 2010 - 2013
Budget: 8.361.000 NOK
Nordic Energy Research contributed with 53%


Project partners 


• NTNU - Dept. of Energy and Process Engineering

• NTNU - Faculty of Engineering Science and Technology

• DTU Mechanical Engineering
•  Volvo Powertrain AB
• Lund Combustion Engineering LOGE AB 
• Chemrec AB
• Ford Forschungszentrum Aachen

Project leader 


Terese Løvås, Professor

Dept. of Energy and Process Engineering

NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway

+47 735 93709, +47 993 40 226


Project participants


  • Terese Løvås, NTNU
  • Azhar Malik, NTNU
  • Jesper Schramm, DTU
  • Claus S. Nielsen, DTU
  • Henrik Landælv, Volvo Powertrain AB
  • Ingvar Landælv, Chemrec AB
  • Fabian Mauss, LOGE AB
  • Werner Willems, Ford Forschungszentrum

©Foto Terje Heiestad / NordForsk

Contact person

Programme Secretary

Inger Karni, Nordic Energy Research


Phone: +47 9548 0329