Project - Bioethanol in future diesel engines

Jakob S. Engbæk

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Project - Bioethanol in future diesel engines

On-board reforming of ether from bioethanol for transport

Project start 08.2011. Expected completion 12.2013.

The project aims to develop a compact fuel processing unit that can convert bioethanol to diethyl ether for fuel for diesel engines. Diethyl ether can be ignited in a diesel engine just like diesel, but has an even higher cetane rating than diesel fuel itself. Cetane rating is like the octane rating for gasoline fuels. By replacing diesel fuel with diethyl ether from bioethanol several benefits are expected to be achieved:

1. The costly dehydration process in bioethanol production can be spared as the water remaining in the bioethanol is an advantage in the reforming reaction, thereby generating higher profitability of ethanol production.
2. Use of bioethanol as ether in a diesel-cycle gives a better utilization of energy in the fuel than as an additive to gasoline engines. The efficiency in the diesel-cycle is typically approx. 10%-points higher than in the Otto-Cycle (in gasoline engines).
3. Pollution from diesel engines lowered considerately since the combustion of diethyl ether is very clean process. Especially the amount of particles in the exhaust is lowered.

Project Objectives

  • Development of reformer unit for at truck size diesel engine
  • Development of light components for the system.
  • Demonstration of motor system with reformer unit and analysis for were on the system after 1000 hours.


  • Haldor Topsøe A/S
  • Nordhavn A/S
  • Danish Technological Institute