Increasingly stringent emissions standards have accounted for continuing increases in the end-user cost of a modern diesel engine, most of which due to complex and expensive emissions after treatment devices such as selective catalytic reduction (SCR), which relies on urea to be injected into a catalyst bed to remove nitrogen oxide emissions from the engine exhaust.
Prior to the current emissions standards the diesel industry had been able to meet NOx levels by reducing the combustion temperature in the engine via charge gas dilution, through cooled EGR. Although successful in reducing emissions, large levels of EGR have undesirable effects on oil quality, engine longevity, overall efficiency and warranty returns. There is also a limit to the efficacy of EGR in lowering NOx emissions such that at the current EPA mandated 0.2g/kWh, it is no longer sufficient.
Another well-known NOx mitigating solution has been the introduction of water into the diesel engine combustion chamber. This has been known to decrease peak combustion temperatures and decrease NOx emissions but usage so far has been limited to stationary and marine applications due to the requirement of a separate water tank and thereby a two-tank system. Combustion of hydrocarbon fuels produces between 1.35 and 2.55 times their mass in water. As an enabler to water injection, this paper will also demonstrate a technique where the exhaust is first cooled via a heat exchanger, and then passed through a cyclonic separator to separate heavier liquid particles from the exhaust gas flow. Through vortex separation over 100% of the burned fuel mass can be recovered as liquid water from the exhaust. A prototype system was developed and installed on a VW TDI diesel engine. Tests were conducted with and without after-treatment and results have been discussed in subsequent sections. The water was then utilized in conjunction with EGR to control NOx emissions, allowing a reduction of over 97%, thus achieving the 0.2g/kWh standard with no after treatment.