DTU in front of IEA cooperation on new motor fuels

International chairmanship will put DTU in the front of research in the adaptation of engines when new electro-fuels, ammonia and methanol, start gaining volume in the shipping and air traffic sectors in the coming years.

The International Energy Agency, IEA, has just elected Professor Jesper Schramm from DTU Mechanical Engineering as chairman of the technology programme dealing with advanced motor fuels. It is extremely rare that this honour falls to Denmark in the distinguished organisation of the Energy Agency, where the world’s most recognized researchers and companies in the field are gathered.

However, it’s not surprising that DTU and Jesper Schramm have been given the chance to head the technology programme. Denmark is at the cutting edge of several fields, including research into the effect of alternative fuels on engines.

“With the chairmanship, we’ll have the opportunity to make a major mark on international efforts in this area. The technology programme typically brings together forces across the group of members, which include all the leading nations in fuel and engine research. In the coming years, alternative fuels, also known as e-fuels or power-to-X, will be given priority,” says Jesper Schramm.

Access to the world’s leading expertise

DTU and Danish companies will thus gain unique access to the world’s leading expertise in the field. This is particularly interesting in connection with some major projects that are currently on the drawing board. In 2020, a number of large Danish companies and interest groups launched a joint plan to use power from offshore wind turbines on Bornholm and other sources to produce hydrogen and e-fuels in a plant that will be located in Greater Copenhagen. The fuels shall be used in buses, lorries, ships, and air planes. In addition, the Danish company MAN Energy Solution has announced that it will introduce a ship engine that uses e-fuel (ammonia).

In recent years, projects at DTU have examined how, for example, methanol or ammonia affect the types of engines normally used in lorries, buses and ships. From the outset, the task was to examine the influence of sulphur from marine fuels in the context of the ‘slow steaming’ used by shipping companies to sail as fuel-efficiently as possible. It became apparent that the formation of water, which is particularly significant when alternative fuels are used, posed a much greater problem.

“Water is, among other things, a problem for the efficiency of the lubrication oil in the engine. Insufficient lubrication results in increased wear in the engines. We would therefore very much like to continue studying when and how water is formed when methanol, ammonia, and other alternative fuels are burned, so we can limit this type of wear in the engines in future,” says Jesper Schramm.

Initially, DTU will hold the chairmanship of the IEA’s motor fuel technology programme for the next two years.

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