ROCKLEDGE, FL – April 30, 2009 – Mainstream Engineering Corporation (MEC), a leading research and development company specializing in advanced thermal control and energy conversion, has been awarded a Phase II SBIR contract from the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command to develop oxygen-enriched combustion systems for diesel electric generators.
Reducing battlefield fuel demand will improve the U.S. armed force’s operational capability and contribute to mission success. During wartime, mobile generators consume the majority of the fuel used by the Army, so increasing generator fuel efficiency will greatly decrease the overall battlefield fuel requirement. Oxygen-enriched diesel combustion can improve fuel-conversion efficiency and power density in these generators while also enabling the use of lower-quality fuels. In Phase I, MEC demonstrated significant improvements in engine performance and showed that air separation membrane modules, which generate the required oxygen-enriched air, can be compact. These membrane modules also produce nitrogen-enriched air as a byproduct, which can be used to control NOX emissions at part load conditions and thereby assure regulatory compliance. The Phase I results also showed that maximizing the benefits of oxygen enrichment requires careful component integration and engine control. In Phase II, MEC will design, build, and demonstrate a variable-air-composition combustion (VACC) system including the membrane module, compressor, valve system, sensors, controller, and electronic fuel injection.