Synthesis of potential fuels for combustion engine power plants

    Research output: Book/ReportReport


    The major drivers for the energy policies today are related to climate change and energy security. In addition, air pollutants are to be reduced to decrease adverse environmental and health effects. Combined strategies are needed to combat climate change, to reduce adverse health effects, to reduce energy poverty and to improve energy security. Which are the synergies and trade-offs? Greenhouse gases present a global threat, but many other emissions are of concern via for example acidification and eutrophication impacts on the eco system and health impacts on humans. Emission limits are tightening for medium-speed engines, both in marine and power plant sectors, as well as for high-speed engines in the mobile machinery field. Scenarios project that global primary energy supply increases from 550 EJ in 2011 to 700-900 EJ in 2050 depending on the assumptions. How much fossil and low carbon sources could cover from the projected energy demand? Fossil energy reserves are substantial and long-lasting, even though economic feasibility is uncertain and regional differences are high. However, fossil energy should be decoupled from greenhouse gas generation, if it would be considered as energy solution of future. Global renewable energy reserves are higher than the projected energy demand, solar representing the highest reserves. However, question remains whether the costs or, for example, critical metals, becomes a limiting factor for these technologies. Estimates on bioenergy potentials vary substantially, for example from 10% to 30% of total energy supply. In addition, sustainability issues remain to be solved. As concerns sectorial aspects, flexible power generation is clearly needed to back-up variable renewable energy production. Gas is suitable for flexible power generation, it is competitively priced, and low carbon option when compared to for example coal. Multi-fuel power plants can use wide variety of liquid and gaseous fuels, both fossil and biofuels. Shipping sector is facing stringent emission requirements in emission control areas. Additional emission control measures or change of fuel (or both) are needed. LNG is expected to become an important marine fuel. Mobile machinery sector is also facing tightening emission legislation. For modern diesel engines equipped with emission control devices, good fuel quality is a must. In addition, engine development is needed to enlarge possibilities to utilise new fuels, for example, a diesel-ignited dual fuel ethanol engines. In this report, fuel options were considered from the end-use viewpoint. Fuels covered HFO, shale oil, vegetable oils, animal fats, plastic oil, FAME, HVO, Fischer-Tropsch fuels, methane, LPG, DME and alcohols. Ligno-cellulosic pyrolysis oil was also included, even though currently it is non-applicable for engines. When considering today's challenges, it is clear that revolutionary solutions and technology breakthroughs are needed, and there are opportunities for those. An example of emerging technologies that could show fast track penetration is photo voltage. In addition, wind power is moving into large scale. There is innovation potential on biotechnology as well. Huge opportunities are offered by nanotechnology. So, there are resources and opportunities to cope with energy challenges of the future, but international and national policies and funding is needed to develop and create low-carbon energy systems. The true cost of energy, including effects on the environment and health, should be passed on to consumers: cost of emitting should be higher than the cost of avoidance. In the end, savings in future will outweigh costs generated now. However, subsidies and research funding continue being higher for fossil fuels than for renewables. It remains to be seen, if this development can be changed. On the positive side, investments in clean technology have increased radically, particularly in China. The Future Combustion Engine Power Plant (FCEP) research program focuses on research topics and development efforts in reciprocating engine technologies and related power plant technologies. One of the areas of the FCEP program focused on improving fuel flexibility of the power plants, shipping and mobile machinery (WP4). This report was prepared within the FCEP WP4 as a synthesis of future fuel aspects for combustion engine power plants.
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherCLEEN Cluster for Energy and Environment
    Number of pages58
    ISBN (Print)978-952-5947-48-9
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    MoE publication typeD4 Published development or research report or study



    • energy
    • fuels
    • fossil
    • renewable
    • biofuels
    • challenges
    • opportunities
    • power plant
    • electricity
    • machinery
    • energy policy
    • climate change
    • emissions

    Cite this

    Aakko-Saksa, P. (2014). Synthesis of potential fuels for combustion engine power plants. CLEEN Cluster for Energy and Environment.