Achieving efficient engine operation is one of the clearest, most-economical paths to mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. Consumption of significantly less fuel per unit of work provides a method of greenhouse gas mitigation that is immediately attractive to consumers, and therefore requires no incentives other than individuals or organizations acting in self-interest.
Today, piston engines with less than 500 kW output dominate transportation and distributed energy generation, since gas turbines of such a small size are significantly less efficient than their larger counterparts. Fuel cells have also been investigated for this size range, but cost has been a challenge given current levels of efficiency. The research team will explore the best ways to combine piston-cylinder, internal-combustion-based reaction with electrochemical reaction to achieve efficiencies above 70 percent for transportation and distributed generation engines.