The threat posed by climate change forces us to reshape our electricity generation landscape. Wind turbines and solar panels will take up pole position yet their intermittent nature causes challenges for the variable but continuous need for electricity. In this context, chemical storage appears to be a promising option. Excess electricity in times of low grid demand is used to synthesize fuels such as H2, NH3, CH4, CH3OH, e-gasoline or e-diesel, of which methanol (CH3OH) is the simplest type of synthetic fuel that is liquid at ambient conditions.
At times where there is a high grid demand, internal combustion engines can be used to reconvert this energy back to electricity. In order to know the full efficiency potential of this “Power-to-Fuel-to-Power” technology, one needs to optimize the engine to the fuel. The physico-chemical properties of methanol allow for ultra-high efficiency spark ignition engines. As a starting point, a 1.6L methanol fueled DISI engine is optimized using a surface response method of the Box-Wilson type. The next step will be to collect the efficiency numbers for different sized methanol fueled engines. The common terms will be investigated and scaling laws will be defined to answer some general questions: How big can you go (in terms of power), how efficient can you do it? at