Advanced science.  Applied technology.


Three SwRI automotive engineers win Innovation Award

For immediate release

San Antonio — Oct. 14, 2015 — Three automotive engineers at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) have been named winners of the World LPG Association (WLPGA) 2015 Innovation Award for their paper detailing research into the feasibility of using propane gas in a modern downsized and boosted direct-injected engine.

Mark Walls, a senior research engineer, and Dennis Robertson, a research engineer, both in the Engine, Emissions, and Vehicle Research Division; and Gregory Hansen, a senior research engineer in the Fuels and Lubricants Research Division, were recognized for their paper, “Direct Injection Liquid Propane.” Walls presented the paper at the Global Technology Conference during the 27th World LPG Forum in Miami last year.

As consumer and regulatory pressures dictate that vehicles meet improved fuel economy and lower carbon dioxide emissions standards, automakers are looking at new technologies and alternative fuels to meet these demands. The objective of the research project detailed in the paper was to demonstrate “that a modern direct-injected gasoline engine could successfully operate throughout its entire operating range when liquid propane was supplied to the OEM engine hardware and baseline calibrations.”

The researchers converted a Ford EcoBoost engine to run on liquefied propane gas. According to the paper, the research demonstrated that “propane can be used as a motor fuel on modern GDI (gasoline direct injection) engines without making hardware changes. In addition, the anti-knock properties of propane (high Research Octane Number and heat of vaporization compared to gasoline) make it well suited for use in direct injected engines and provide the potential for significant efficiency gains through increased compression ratios in conjunction with propane-specific engine calibrations.”

The project was funded through the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), which promotes the current and future use of propane as fuel for vehicles as varied as garden tractors to heavy-duty on-road applications.

“This is just one area that SwRI has looked at over the years to help meet the new Environmental Protection Agency regulations regarding emissions,” Walls said. “We were very pleased with the improvement in efficiency, which will help OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) meet future fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards.”

The award was presented during the 28th World LPG Forum in Singapore on Sept. 30.

For more information, contact Deb Schmid, +1 210 522 2254, Communications Department, Southwest Research Institute, 6220 Culebra Road, San Antonio, TX 78238-5166.