28484 Dual-fuel engine modelling with hydrogen and methanol
Begeleider(s): ir. Jeroen Dierickx

Richtingen: Master of Science in Electromechanical Engineering


Global warming, a growing maritime transport, and the roadmap away from fossil fuels towards a CO2 neutral economy are driving innovations and technology developments in the marine sector. Given that the main marine propulsion is via compression ignition (CI) engines and with fossil fuels such as heavy fuel oil and diesel, the marine industry is looking for alternatives. Electric propulsion and fuel cells are looked at amongst others. However, fuel solutions that have a higher energy density are required for the longer distances, which are difficult to achieve with the low energy density of batteries and the low maturity of the fuel cell technology. Fuel selection criteria such as sustainability, scalability and storability lead to the selection of methanol as a viable alternative for fossil fuels for those applications that need high autonomy [1]. For genset applications where tank space and thus storability is less of a criterion, hydrogen is an interesting alternative [2]. Both fuels have a high octane number and are therefore ideal for spark ignition (SI) engines. To use them in CI engines, a dual-fuel combustion strategy has to be used where diesel ignites the methanol-air or hydrogen-air mixture. As such diesel acts as a “liquid spark”.

ABC Engines, a major Belgian engine manufacturer of medium speed engines for a.o. marine and genset applications, is developing their sustainable dual-fuel engines with methanol-diesel and hydrogen-diesel. At CIMAC 2019 they presented the first results of their lab engine tests [3] and recently they announced the commercialization of their dual-fuel hydrogen-diesel engine with BeHydro [4]. In the European FASTWATER project, a tugboat will be converted with Europe’s first ABC methanol-diesel dual-fuel engine [5].

ABC has a framework collaboration with Ghent University to research the fundamentals of dual-fuel engines and to explore the parameters that have an influence on engine performance. To avoid expensive engine test benches and time consuming experiments, ABC asked Ghent University to develop a dual-fuel engine model with hydrogen.



For this thesis you start from a dual-fuel model that is built in GT-Power, a commercial and user-friendly package for 1D engine simulations. GT-Power has a good performance for diesel (i.e. CI mode) and for gasoline fuels (i.e. SI mode), but in dual-fuel mode GT-Power’s combustion model does not perform well. The starting point of this thesis are therefore the shortcomings of certain sub-models in GT-Power.

The goal of this thesis is to firstly investigate different sub-models and to test them in GT-Power on their modelling performance. Secondly the best fitted sub-models should be implemented in a six-cylinder engine model to take into account full engine geometry and cylinder-to-cylinder effects. Once the full engine model is available, parameter sweeps can be performed to test the impact of for example intake air temperature, EGR or diesel injection timing on dual-fuel engine performance.


[1] J. Dierickx, “Waarom de verbrandinsmotor nog een rol zal spelen.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5s381P3Els&t=9s

[2] S. Verhelst, Progress in Energy and Combustion Science, “Hydrogen-Fueled internal combustion engines”

[3] L. Mattheeuws, CIMAC 2019, “ABC’s dual-fuel engines running on renewable fuels like methanol and hydrogen”, Anglo Belgiian Corporation

[4] T. Berckmoes, A. Saverys, 22/09/2020, https://www.abc-engines.com/nl/news/behydro-hydrogen-dual-fual-engine-launched-in-ghent  

[5] EU FASTWATER project, 2020-2024, https://www.fastwater.eu/