Internal combustion Rankine cycle (ICRC) power plants use oxy-fuel firing with recycled water in place of nitrogen to control combustion temperatures. High efficiency and specific power output can be achieved with this cycle, but importantly, the exhaust products are only CO2 and water vapor: The CO2 can be captured cheaply on condensation of the water vapor. Here we investigate the feasibility of using a reciprocating engine version of the ICRC cycle for automotive applications. The vehicle will carry its own supply of oxygen and store the captured CO2. On refueling with conventional gasoline, the CO2 will be off-loaded and the oxygen supply replenished. Cycle performance is investigated on the basis of fuel-oxygen-water cycle calculations. Estimates are made for the system mass, volume, and cost and compared with other power plants for vehicles. It is found that high thermal efficiencies can be obtained and that huge increases in specific power output are achievable. The overall power-plant system mass and volume will be dominated by the requirements for oxygen and CO2 storage. Even so, the performance of vehicles with ICRC power plants will be superior to those based on fuel cells and they will have much lower production costs. Operating costs arising from supply of oxygen and disposal of the CO2 are expected to be around 20 c/l of gasoline consumed and about $25/tonne of carbon controlled. Over all, ICRC engines are found to be a potentially competitive option for the powering of motor vehicles in the forthcoming carbon-controlled energy market.

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