Dual-fuel strategies can enable replacement of diesel fuel with low reactivity biofuels like hydrous ethanol. Our previous work has shown that dual-fuel strategies using port injection of hydrous ethanol can replace up to 60% of diesel fuel on an energy basis. However, they yield negligible benefits in NOx emissions, soot emissions, and brake thermal efficiency (BTE) over conventional single fuel diesel operation. Pretreatment of hydrous ethanol through steam reforming before mixing with intake air offers the potential to both increase BTE and decrease soot and NOx emissions. Steam reforming can upgrade the heating value of the secondary fuel through thermochemical recuperation (TCR) and produces inert gases to act as a diluent similar to exhaust gas recirculation. This study experimentally investigated a novel thermally integrated steam reforming reactor that uses sensible and chemical energy in the exhaust to provide the necessary heat for hydrous ethanol steam reforming. An off-highway diesel engine was operated at three speed and load settings with varying hydrous ethanol flow rates reaching fumigant energy fractions of up to 70%. The engine achieved soot reductions of close to 90% and minor NOx reductions; however, carbon monoxide and unburned hydrocarbon emissions increased. A first law energy balance using the experimental data shows that efficient TCR effectively upgraded the heating value of the secondary fuel. Overall, hydrous ethanol steam reforming using TCR can lead to 23% increase in fuel heating value at 100% conversion, a limit approached in the conducted experiments.

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