Reduction of NOx Using On-Board Plasma Generated Hydrogen

EPA Contract Number: EPD07035
Title: Reduction of NOx Using On-Board Plasma Generated Hydrogen
Investigators: Hennings, Brian
Small Business: Lynntech Inc.
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: I
Project Period: March 1, 2007 through August 31, 2007
Project Amount: $70,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2007) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: SBIR - Emission Reductions and Biofuels , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


Off-road diesel-powered equipment (i.e., tractors/dozers, excavators, backhoes, surface equipment, etc.) are designed with lifetimes of more than 25-30 years. As such, most of the diesel equipment in use today was manufactured before there were any emissions standards at all, much less up to the stringent requirements of modern vehicle emissions. To combat this massive source of pollutants, a technology that can be retrofitted onto existing equipment that reduces pollutants (in particular NOx, CO, and unburned hydrocarbons [HC]) is an immediate necessity.

The addition of hydrogen in the combustion chamber creates a stronger reducing environment during combustion, inhibiting the formation of NOx and CO. It has been demonstrated that adding 14 percent hydrogen to the fuel/air mix reduces all emissions by an order of magnitude. Lynntech, Inc. is proposing to generate the hydrogen in situ in the fuel line. This simplifies installation and makes operation transparent to the operator. Lynntech’s reformer also preferentially shortens the average hydrocarbon chain length of the fuel passing through the chamber. This results in further reduction of NOx, reduction of unburned HC, and increased fuel economy (aiding to offset the small parasitic loss required to operate the plasma reformer).

Lynntech has more than 6 years of experience in the field of plasma reformation, with particular emphasis on converting JP-8 or diesel fuel into a hydrogen-rich (80-90 vol%) gas stream. This technology has evolved at Lynntech into a process that is simple, compact, efficient, and can be integrated into existing engines with virtually no changes to the operation of the vehicle, other than reduced emissions. Lynntech already has demonstrated the scalability of the plasma process from less than 10 Watt systems to more than 15 kW and operates on a variety of fuels with no change in functionality or degradation of performance.

The commercial potential for this technology is impressive. In addition to the more than 2 million pieces of diesel-powered equipment in the U.S. construction industry alone, there are other industries such as material handling (i.e., loaders/unloaders in the port industry, forklifts, etc.) and stationary diesel equipment. The plasma reforming process is so effective that Lynntech is in discussions with ArvinMeritor to develop the system as an alternative to urea-based selective catalytic reduction. ArvinMeritor currently markets a plasma-based on-board hydrogen generation system for emissions reduction, but Lynntech’s system yields much higher grade hydrogen (80-90 vol%) with fewer ancillary gasses.

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, EPA, engine and vehicle emissions, plasma-generated hydrogen,, Scientific Discipline, Air, Environmental Chemistry, mobile sources, Environmental Engineering, Nox, engine exhaust, automotive emissions, automotive exhaust, diesel exhaust, atmospheric plasma filter, hydrocarbon (HC), plasma reformer, fuel additives

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report