However, traditional diesel engines will struggle to meet increasingly stringent global emissions standards, even with the complex and costly after-treatment systems used today. Researchers at Stanford take an innovative approach to avoid emission drawbacks of diesel engines using low-carbon fuels. They have applied thermal barrier coatings (TBCs) to in-cylinder components to create a high-temperature environment in the engine. This enables the use of low-carbon fuels instead of diesel fuel while simultaneously improving performance.
Traditional engines using lower-carbon fuels can meet current and future emissions regulations with simple, inexpensive after-treatment systems. The researchers in the AESL are currently exploring the use of ethanol and natural gas in these engines. Coating technology maintains the beneficial characteristics of traditional diesel engines while lowering their environmental impact. It requires only minor changes to existing diesel engine technology, making rapid adoption of cleaner engines possible. The technology can help realize significant emissions reductions in the near term and provide a clear path to using renewable fuels once commercially available.