This project focuses on development of the technology for tailpipe detection of 14CO2 in vehicle exhausts for the tracking and confirmation of biofuel blending. This device would enable a more rational approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector than trying to reduce all CO2 emissions to zero (which is what the current regulatory trend is mandating), when what matters is fossil CO2 and CO2e emissions. There is a need for detection of the biogenic carbon-derived emissions of CO2 onboard vehicles since biogenic carbon emissions from renewable fuels do not add to the atmospheric carbon inventory. Since biofuels contain carbon from fixation of atmospheric CO2 through photosynthesis, the elevated 14C content in the fuels should be detectable in engine exhausts. The absence of 14CO2 is routinely used as a confirmation that the CO2 measured is derived from fossil fuels, because CO2 from fossil fuels does not contain 14C. Historically, the detection of biofuel content has been addressed by use of technologies that detect specific types of molecules that comprise the renewable fuel and are not normally present in the conventional fuel, e.g., a capacitive sensor is used in “flex-fuel” vehicles that can operate on gasoline-ethanol blends up to 85% ethanol content. But such sensing technologies (capacitance, conductivity, FTIR spectrometry) are only useful if the biofuel is of substantially different molecular structure, such as an oxygenated fuel, than the conventional fuel. Emerging and rapidly growing biofuel pathways include mostly or exclusively “bio-hydrocarbons” rather than oxygenates. In this project, the team will explore methods to employ beta particle detection of the decay of 14C that is bound in the fuel, either by detection from the fuel itself or from 14CO2 in the combustion products after the fuel is consumed.
Funding: $45K (2023)
Goal: To develop a robust and deployable method and sensor technology for the detection of 14C in fuel or in exhaust for detection of renewable fuel content.
Token Investors: Andre Boehman, David Wehe, and Zhong He
Project ID: 1132