(19)
(11)EP 3 417 166 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
31.03.2021 Bulletin 2021/13

(21)Application number: 17702475.9

(22)Date of filing:  17.01.2017
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
F02D 19/06(2006.01)
B01D 3/06(2006.01)
F02M 37/20(2006.01)
F02M 37/00(2006.01)
F02D 19/08(2006.01)
B01D 3/42(2006.01)
F02M 33/08(2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/US2017/013706
(87)International publication number:
WO 2017/142658 (24.08.2017 Gazette  2017/34)

(54)

ADJUSTING A FUEL COMPOSITION ON-BOARD A VEHICLE

EINSTELLEN EINER KRAFTSTOFFZUSAMMENSETZUNG AN BORD EINES FAHRZEUGS

AJUSTER UNE COMPOSITION D'UN CARBURANT À BORD D'UN VÉHICULE


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 16.02.2016 US 201615044584

(43)Date of publication of application:
26.12.2018 Bulletin 2018/52

(73)Proprietor: Saudi Arabian Oil Company
Dhahran 31311 (SA)

(72)Inventors:
  • HAMAD, Esam Z.
    Dhahran 31311 (SA)
  • ALGUNAIBET, Ibrahim M.
    Dhahran 31311 (SA)

(74)Representative: Fish & Richardson P.C. 
Highlight Business Towers Mies-van-der-Rohe-Straße 8
80807 München
80807 München (DE)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A1- 3 417 165
EP-A2- 1 983 178
US-A1- 2005 267 224
US-A1- 2014 034 021
EP-A2- 1 443 202
JP-A- 2010 013 948
US-A1- 2006 118 085
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description


    [0001] This disclosure relates to adjusting a fuel on-board a vehicle and, more particularly, dynamically separating a fuel on-board a vehicle according to at least one characteristic of the fuel.

    BACKGROUND



    [0002] Vehicles, such as cars, trucks, boats, all-terrain vehicles, and otherwise, typical use internal combustion engines for power. These engines require fuel, such as gasoline, diesel, or otherwise, to operate. The fuel is often characterized by an octane or cetane number.

    [0003] EP 1443202 describes an onboard fuel separation apparatus separates a material fuel (gasoline) into a high-octane fuel having a higher octane value than the material fuel and a low-octane fuel having a lower octane value than the material fuel using a separation membrane which selectively allows high-octane value components (such as aromatic components) permeate through the membrane. The apparatus increases the ratio of the amount of the high-octane value components permeating through the membrane to the amount of the high-octane value components contained in the material fuel by, i) Controlling the temperature of the material fuel supplied to the membrane ii) Increasing partial pressure of the low-octane value components on the high-octane fuel side of the membrane and removing volatiles from the permeate, and iii) Bypassing volatiles in the material feed around the membrane.

    SUMMARY



    [0004] The object of the present invention can be understood as providing an alternative fuel separation system and method.

    [0005] The invention is defined by the appended independent claims 1, 8 and 10. Features of possible preferred embodiments are defined in the dependent claims.

    [0006] Implementations according to the present invention consumption, fuel cost, as well as CO2 emissions from vehicles. Fuel consumption of a vehicle can be reduced by supplying the engine of the vehicle with a fuel that has an optimized research octane number, rather than a higher volumetric flow rate of fuel. For instance, the engine can be supplied with a fuel of a particular research octane number based on engine load or operating conditions. Such implementations can optimize the research octane number of a single source of fuel stored on the vehicle (for example, in a fuel tank). The claimed systems and method can optimize the research octane number of fuel on-board the vehicle, can provide for multiple fuel streams, each with different research octane number ratings, from a single fuel source stored on an operating vehicle, and can allow a vehicle driver to purchase a fuel with a low octane number, which is typically more cost-efficient, while still allowing the vehicle to use both the purchased fuel and a separated, higher value, fuel.

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



    [0007] 

    FIG. 1 is a schematic illustration of a multi-fuel vehicle system that includes on-board fuel separation system according to the present invention.

    FIG. 2 is a schematic illustration of an example of an on-board fuel separation system departing from the invention as claimed.

    FIG. 3 is a schematic illustration of another example of an on-board fuel separation system departing from the invention as claimed.

    FIG. 4 is a schematic illustration of an embodiment of an on-board fuel separation system according to the present invention.

    FIGS. 5A-5C are graphs that illustrate results of a simulation model of an on-board fuel separation system according to an example departing from the invention as claimed.

    FIGS. 6A-6C are graphs that illustrate results of another simulation model of an on-board fuel separation system according to an example departing from the invention as claimed.

    FIGS. 7A-7B are graphs that illustrate results of another simulation model of an on-board fuel separation system .

    FIG. 8 is a schematic illustration of a controller for an on-board fuel separation system according to the present invention or examples departing therefrom.


    DETAILED DESCRIPTION



    [0008] The present disclosure describes a fuel separation system that may be mounted on-board a vehicle, such as a car, truck, boat, or other vehicle that utilizes an engine to generate motive power. The fuel separation system includes a fuel separator, such as a flash distillation unit, that is controllable to separate an input fuel stream into two or more fractional fuel streams based on a volatility difference of fractional components of the fuel. The separated fractional fuel components are each defined by a particular auto-ignition characteristic value, such as, in accordance with the claimed invention, research octane number (RON), and departing therefrom, cetane number, or otherwise. The auto-ignition characteristic values of the separated fractional fuel components may vary, thus resulting in a fractional fuel component stream that has a lower value than another fractional fuel component stream from the fuel separator. In some aspects, an operating condition of the fuel separator, or one or more additional components of the on-board fuel separation system, is controlled based at least in part on an operating condition of the engine. The on-board fuel separation system includes a heat exchanger that is positioned to facilitate a transfer of heat from one or more fractional fuel component streams to a source fuel stream (for example, from a fuel tank of the vehicle).

    [0009] FIG. 1 is a schematic illustration of a vehicle system 100 that includes an on-board fuel separation system 108 . As illustrated in FIG. 1, the vehicle system 100 includes a vehicle 102, which is represented as an automobile, but the present disclosure contemplates that a "vehicle" can include an automobile, motorized cycle, all-terrain vehicle (ATV), nautical vehicle (for example, boat or otherwise), or an airborne vehicle (for example, plane, ultralight, drone, or otherwise), whether manned or unmanned. Indeed, the present disclosure contemplates that a "vehicle" is any apparatus that derives powered movement from a hydrocarbon liquid fuel, such as gasoline, naphtha, or diesel as examples.

    [0010] The illustrated vehicle 102 includes a fuel input 104 that is fluidly coupled to the on-board fuel separation system 108 to provide a fuel stream 106 to the separation system 108, for example, during operation of the vehicle 102. In some aspects, a fuel tank (not shown) is fluidly coupled in between the fuel input 104 and the on-board fuel separation system 108, for example, to contain a particular volume of fuel stream 106. In such aspects, the fuel stream 106 may be variably circulated (for example, pumped) from the fuel tank to the on-board fuel separation system 108, for example, as necessary for operation of the vehicle 102. In some aspects, a fuel rail of the vehicle could also be used for circulation of the fuel stream 106.

    [0011] As described herein, the on-board fuel separation system 108 separates the fuel stream 106 into two or more individual fraction streams based on a particular characteristic of the fuel stream 106. The fuel stream 106 is separated into fractions based on a volatility difference of the fractions within the fuel stream 106. The fuel stream 106 may be separated into an aromatic fraction, but is at least seperated into an oxygenate fraction as well as other compound fractions. The on-board fuel separation system 108 includes at least two fuel separators, such as flash distillation separators (for example, flash tanks or compact distillation units or otherwise), that separate the fuel stream 106 based on the volatility difference of the fractions into separate fractions, each having distinct auto-ignition characteristic values (RON according to the invention, cetane number or otherwise departing therefrom).

    [0012] In some aspects, the on-board fuel separation system 108 may be controllably operated at multiple pressures, multiple temperature, or both, to optimize the auto-ignition characteristic value of the separated fractions (RON according to the invention, cetane number or otherwise departing therefrom), a particular flow rate of the separated fractions, or both. Further controllable aspects of the on-board fuel separation system 108 include, for example, a temperature profile of a compact distillation unit within the on-board fuel separation system 108, a number of equilibrium stages within the on-board fuel separation system 108, feed location, and reflux ratio.

    [0013] The illustrated vehicle 102 includes two or more fuel fraction conduits shown as 110 and 112, which fluidly couple the on-board fuel separation system 108 to fractional fuel tanks 114 and 116. For example, the fuel fraction conduit 110 may fluidly couple the on-board fuel separation system 108 to the fractional fuel tank 114 to store a fuel fraction output by the on-board fuel separation system 108 that has a particular auto-ignition characteristic value, while the fuel fraction conduit 112 may fluidly couple the on-board fuel separation system 108 to the fractional fuel tank 116 to store another fuel fraction output by the on-board fuel separation system 108 that has a different auto-ignition characteristic value. In particular implementations, the fractional fuel tank 114 may store a fuel fraction output by the on-board fuel separation system 108 that has a higher RON relative to a fuel fraction output by the on-board fuel separation system 108 that is stored in the fractional fuel tank 116. Although only two fractional fuel tanks are shown, the present disclosure contemplates that more than two fractional fuel tanks may be fluidly coupled to the on-board fuel separation system 108 (for example, depending on the number of separation stages of the on-board fuel separation system 108).

    [0014] In some aspects, the two fuel streams 118 and 120 may each be fed directly to the engine 124. For example, one fuel stream (of fuel streams 118 and 120) could by port-injected and the other fuel stream (of fuel streams 118 and 120) could be directly injected into the cylinders of the engine 124. This implementation may avoid any time lag in providing the correct fuel to the engine 124, as a time lag could result from the fuel already in the fuel line after valve 122. In some aspects, the fuel route for the fuel streams 118 and 120 is kept as short as possible.

    [0015] In this schematic illustration, the fractional fuel tanks 114 and 116 are fluidly coupled to an engine 124 (for example, internal combustion gasoline, naphtha, or diesel engine) through fractional fuel supply lines 118 and 120 and a control valve 122. For example, the fractional fuel tank 114 (for example, which stores a higher RON fuel fraction) is fluidly coupled to the engine 124 through the supply line 118, while the fractional fuel tank 116 (for example, which stores a lower RON fuel fraction) is fluidly coupled to the engine 124 through the supply line 120. Based on, for example, dynamic (for example, instantaneous or real-time) driving conditions, such as speed vs. torque conditions, the control valve 122 may be controlled (for example, by a vehicle control system, not shown) to supply a particular fuel fraction stored in one of the fractional fuel tanks 114/116 to the engine 124. The supplied fuel fraction may have an auto-ignition characteristic value (RON according to the invention, cetane number departing therefrom) optimized for the dynamic (for example, instantaneous or real-time) driving conditions. For example, a higher RON fuel fraction (for example, stored in tank 114) may be circulated to the engine 124 based on high load engine conditions, high speed engine conditions, or a combination thereof. A lower RON fuel fraction (for example, stored in tank 116) may be circulated to the engine 124 based on low load engine conditions, low speed engine conditions, or a combination thereof.

    [0016] The on-board fuel separation system 108 can help reduce fuel consumption, cost and CO2 emissions. For example, depending on engine operating requirements (for example, dynamic or in real-time), a fuel fraction that has minimum required auto-ignition characteristic value ( RON) is supplied to the engine 124 (and not more as is conventional). Therefore, the on-board fuel separation system 108 may store a relatively high RON fuel fraction (for example, in fractional fuel tank 114) for the high load and high speed operating conditions. Similarly, a relatively low RON fuel fraction is stored (for example, in fractional fuel tank 116) for low load and low speed operating conditions.

    [0017] In some aspects, the fractional fuel tanks 114 and 116 may be eliminated from the system 100, and, thus, one of the fuel fractions ( a higher RON fraction or lower RON fraction) may be circulated in real-time (for example, during operation of the engine 124 to power the vehicle 102) from the on-board fuel separation system 108 to the engine 124 as dictated by the engine operating conditions (for example, speed vs. torque, engine map operating point, or otherwise). Thus, in some aspects, the only fuel storage tank on the vehicle 102 may be fluidly coupled between the fuel input 104 and the on-board fuel separation system 108 (for example, a standard vehicle fuel tank). Therefore, in some aspects, the on-board fuel separation system 108 may be integrated into a conventional vehicle 102 that includes a single fuel tank.

    [0018] FIG. 2 is a schematic illustration of an example of an on-board fuel separation system 200 departing from the invention as claimed. In some aspects, at least a portion of the system 200 may be implemented as the on-board fuel separation system 108 in the vehicle 102 shown in FIG. 1. The illustrated on-board fuel separation system 200 includes an on-board fuel separation sub-assembly 202 (designated by the dashed line) that includes several components. As illustrated, the fuel stream 106 may be received at a heat exchanger 204 (for example, a plate and frame heat exchanger, shell and tube heat exchanger, fin and tube heat exchanger, or otherwise). The heat exchanger 204 also receives an input of a vapor fuel stream 216 that is output from the on-board fuel separation sub-assembly 202 and circulated back to the heat exchanger 204.

    [0019] The heat exchanger 204 outputs a heated fuel stream 206 to a secondary heater 208 (for example, hot coolant, hot exhaust gas, electric heater or otherwise). An orifice 210 (for example, valve, fixed orifice, variable orifice, or otherwise) is fluidly coupled between the heater 208 and a fuel separator 214. A fuel stream input 212 from the orifice 210 provides the heated fuel stream 206 (for example, at increased or decreased pressure) to the fuel separator 214.

    [0020] In some aspects, the fuel separator 214 may be operated at a vacuum. For example, in some implementations in which a particular auto-ignition characteristic value is desired, the fuel separator 214 may be operated under a vacuum (for example, lower than ambient operating pressure) to recover increased high volatility components of the fuel stream input 212.

    [0021] The fuel separator 214, in the illustrated implementation of system 200, separates the fuel stream input 212 into two fuel fraction streams: the vapor fuel stream 216 and a liquid fuel stream 217. In this example, the liquid fuel stream 217 may be supplied to the fractional fuel tank 114.

    [0022] The illustrated fuel separator 214 may be a flash distillation assembly that separates the input fuel stream 212 into at least two separate fuel fractions (for example, vapor stream 216 and liquid stream 217) based on a relative volatility of the fractional components of the input fuel stream. In some aspects, the flash distillation assembly may include one or more flash tanks that are fitted with screens or similar internal structures to prevent or reduce liquid droplets (mist) from being carried with the vapor stream 216. In some aspects, the flash distillation assembly may be a compact distillation unit filled with structured or random packing, or with trays, to improve the separation and prevent or reduce mist carryover into the vapor stream 216. Further, in some aspects, a number of flash tanks in the flash distillation assembly may be determined by, for example, components of the fuel stream 106 (for example, linear alkanes, branched alkanes, cyclic alkanes, alkenes, aromatics) and their relative volatility, the volatility of additives of the fuel stream 106 such as oxygenates, desired auto-ignition characteristic value of the vapor stream 216 and the liquid stream 217, relative flow rates of the vapor stream 216 and the liquid stream 217, or a combination thereof. Although two output streams (for example, the vapor stream 216 and the liquid stream 217) are shown from the fuel separator 214, more than two output streams (for example, based on a number of fuel separation stages, flash tanks, or otherwise).

    [0023] The illustrated system 200 also includes a control system 218 that is communicably coupled to the on-board fuel separation sub-assembly 202 (for example, communicably coupled to control one or more of the components, as well as unillustrated components, of the on-board fuel separation sub-assembly 202). In some aspects, the control system 218 may be a mechanical, pneumatic, electro-mechanical, or micro-processor based control system (or a combination thereof). The control system 218 may receive (or store) inputs associated with engine operating characteristics of an engine of a vehicle that includes the on-board fuel separation system 200 and, based on the received (or stored) inputs, send control signals to, for example, one or more valves that adjust or control the temperature, the flow rates of the fuel stream 106, the heated fuel stream 206, the vapor stream 216, the liquid stream 217, or a combination thereof. The control system 218 may also be communicably coupled to the fuel separator 214 to control, for example, operating temperature, pressure, or pressures, of the flash tank(s) in the fuel separator 214. The control system 218 may also be communicably coupled to the secondary heater 208 to, for example, further add heat to the heated fuel stream 206 prior to the fuel separator 214.

    [0024] Example engine operating characteristics include, for example, engine load, torque and speed and fuel specifications such as vapor-liquid ratio, a vapor lock index, a drivability index, a T90 or T95 property, a fuel lubricity, a fuel viscosity, or an engine speed-torque ratio, among other examples. Such characteristics (as inputs to the control system 218) may be used, at least in part, to adjust one or more operating characteristics of the on-board fuel separation system 202. For example, operating pressure, temperature, or both of the heat exchanger 204, the fuel separator 214, or both, may be adjusted. Flow rates, pressures, temperature, or a combination thereof, of one or more of the illustrated fuel streams (for example, the fuel stream 106, the heated fuel stream(s), the vapor fuel stream 216, the liquid fuel stream 217, or otherwise) may also be adjusted (for example, by controlling valves, not shown, with the control system 218). By adjusting one or more components of the on-board fuel separation system 202 with the control system 218, the auto-ignition characteristic values of one or both of the vapor fuel stream 216 and the liquid fuel stream 217 may be adjusted, for example, to desired values according to engine operating conditions.

    [0025] In some implementations, at high load, gasoline engines require high octane (for example, long ignition delay) fuel to avoid knocking and engine damage. The octane of the liquid stream 217 may be high octane, and the flow rate may be determined by a temperature of the fuel separator 214 (for example, at constant pressure) as shown graphically in FIGS. 5A-5C, 6A-6C. In some aspects, the on-board controller 218 may have an estimate of the amount of the high RON fuel (and associated RON value) based on a factory setting, driving history, or both. The controller 218 may have predictive functions that give the RON and flow values at each temperature of the fuel separator 214, and the fuel specifications (for example, vapor lock index, T95, and other specifications). The controller 218 may then set the fuel separator 214 temperature to an optimum value to maximize the amount of the high RON fuel (liquid stream 217) by allowing more or less heat in the heater 208, as needed. For other applications, the temperature could be chosen to maximize the RON value at a fixed high RON stream. Another function of the controller 218 may be to keep a minimum level of liquid in the fuel separator 214 to avoid some vapor going to the liquid tank 114. This could be accomplished by having a control valve in the conduit for the liquid stream 217.

    [0026] For compact distillation implementation, the octane numbers and the flow rates of the vapor stream 216 and liquid stream 217 may be determined by more than one variable: the temperatures of a reboiler and a condenser (for example, for the vapor stream 216) and a number of equilibrium stages, reflux ratio and an amount of condensate drawn from the condenser (at a fixed pressure). This control strategy may be similar to that described above, but with more variables to control, and there is no liquid holdup in the fuel separator 214.

    [0027] In some aspects, the separation system 200 may be unlikely to follow the fast dynamics of the engine in real-time. Thus, in some implementation, a vehicle with the on-board fuel separation system 200 may include two smaller tanks, 114 and 116, (in addition to a main fuel tank) for the two separated fuel streams 216 and 217.

    [0028] The illustrated vapor stream 216 and liquid stream 217 may have different auto-ignition characteristic values. For example, in some aspects, the vapor stream 216 may have an auto-ignition characteristic value that is less than an auto-ignition characteristic value of the liquid stream 217. In some aspects, the auto-ignition characteristic values of the vapor stream 216 and the liquid stream 217 may be RON or cetane number.

    [0029] In an example operation, the fuel stream 106 is circulated (for example, forcibly pumped, sprayed, or otherwise) to the heat exchanger 204, as well as the vapor stream 216 output from the fuel separator 214. Heat from the vapor stream 216 is transferred, in the heat exchanger 204, to the fuel stream 106 and output from the heat exchanger 204 as the heated fuel stream 206. The vapor stream 216, which has a particular auto-ignition characteristic value (for example, a low RON relative to the RON of the liquid stream 217), condenses in the heat exchanger 204 as heat is transferred to the fuel stream 106. The condensed vapor stream 219 (now as a liquid stream with the low RON) may be circulated to the fractional fuel tank 116 and stored for use as a fuel source for an engine (for example, engine 124).

    [0030] In some aspects, prior to circulation of the fuel stream 106 to the heat exchanger 204, the fuel stream 106 may be preheated, for example, with electric heating, heating tape, or otherwise. For example, in "cold start" situations (for example, where the engine of the vehicle is being started), the fuel stream 106 may be preheated based on an inability of the vapor stream 216, or the heating stream through heater 208, to provide sufficient heat, in the cold start situation, to the fuel stream 106. In such aspects, one or more of the fuel fractions (for example, the low RON, condensed vapor phase 219 or the high RON liquid phase 217) stored in the fractional fuel tanks 116 and 114 may be used as the cold start fuel for the engine.

    [0031] In some aspects, the vapor stream 216 may not completely condense to a liquid in the heat exchanger 204. In such aspects, the partially condensed vapor stream 219 may be further cooled to more completely condense any remaining vapor in the stream 219. For example, the vapor in the partially condensed vapor stream 219 may be separated and circulated to the engine with an air intake to the engine. As another example, a secondary heat exchanger (not shown) such as a cooling coil, radiator, or otherwise, may further cool the vapor stream 219 (for example, with a cold refrigerant that is part of the vehicle air-conditioning system) between the heat exchanger 204 and the fractional fuel tank 116. As yet another example, a pressure of the partially condensed vapor stream 219 may be increased to further or fully condense the stream 219 prior to the fractional fuel tank 116.

    [0032] The heated fuel stream 206 is circulated through the secondary heater 208, which may add additional heat to the heated fuel stream 206. For example, the secondary heater 208 may be controlled (for example, by the control system 218) to add additional heat so that particular auto-ignition characteristic values (for example, RON or cetane number) may be met in the vapor stream 216 and the liquid stream 217.

    [0033] The heated fuel stream 206 (further heated by the secondary heater 208 or otherwise) is circulated through the orifice 210 and into the fuel separator 214 as the fuel stream input 212. In some aspects, the orifice 210 may be controlled (for example, by the control system 218) to adjust a pressure of the fuel input stream 212 so that particular auto-ignition characteristic values (for example, RON or cetane number) may be met in the vapor stream 216 and the liquid stream 217.

    [0034] The fuel input stream 212 is circulated through the fuel separator 214 and separated (for example, based on relative volatilities of the fractions of the fuel input stream 212) into the illustrated vapor stream 216 and the illustrated liquid stream 217. In some aspects, the fuel separator 214 may separate the fuel input stream 212 into multiple vapor streams and multiple liquid streams, each with a particular auto-ignition characteristic value (for example, RON or cetane number). In such aspects, the fuel separator 214 (for example, flash tanks or distillation units or combination thereof) may have multiple separation stages.

    [0035] The liquid stream 217 output from the fuel separator 214, in this example, has an auto-ignition characteristic value (for example, RON) that is higher than the auto-ignition characteristic value of the vapor stream 216. The liquid stream 217 is circulated to the fractional fuel tank 114 and stored for use as a fuel source for an engine (for example, engine 124).

    [0036] FIG. 3 is a schematic illustration of another example of an on-board fuel separation system 300 departing from the invention as claimed. In some aspects, at least a portion of the system 300 may be implemented as the on-board fuel separation system 108 in the vehicle 102 shown in FIG. 1. System 300 may be similar to system 200, shown in FIG. 2, but also includes a power generator 318 that is fluidly coupled between a fuel separator 314 and a heat exchanger 304 within the on-board fuel separation sub-assembly 302. The power generator 318 may generate power (for example, electrical power), P, within a vehicle (for example, vehicle 102) that includes the on-board fuel separation system 300.

    [0037] The illustrated on-board fuel separation system 300 includes an on-board fuel separation sub-assembly 302 (designated by the dashed line) that includes several components. As illustrated, the fuel stream 106 may be received at a heat exchanger 304 (for example, a plate and frame heat exchanger, shell and tube heat exchanger, fin and tube heat exchanger, or otherwise). The heat exchanger 304 also receives an input of a vapor fuel stream 316 that is output from the on-board fuel separation sub-assembly 302 and circulated back to the heat exchanger 304.

    [0038] The heat exchanger 304 outputs a heated fuel stream 306 to a secondary heater 308 (for example, hot coolant, hot exhaust gas, electric heater or otherwise). An orifice 310 (for example, valve, fixed orifice, variable orifice, or otherwise) is fluidly coupled between the heater 308 and a fuel separator 314. A fuel stream input 312 from the orifice 310 provides the heated fuel stream 306 (for example, at increased or decreased pressure) to the fuel separator 314.

    [0039] The fuel separator 314, in the illustrated implementation of system 300, separates the fuel stream input 312 into two fuel fraction streams: the vapor fuel stream 316 and a liquid fuel stream 317. In this example, the liquid fuel stream 317 may be supplied to the fractional fuel tank 114.

    [0040] In some aspects, the fuel separator 314 may be operated at a vacuum. For example, in some implementations in which a particular auto-ignition characteristic value is desired, the fuel separator 314 may be operated under a vacuum (for example, lower than ambient operating pressure) to recover increased high volatility components of the fuel stream input 312. In still further aspects, for example in implementations that include the power generator 318, the fuel separator 314 may be operated at higher pressures (for example, pressures above ambient pressure) by regulating a pressure, a temperature, or both, of the separator 314 (for example, with a back pressure regulator downstream of the separator 314). In such aspects, the pressurized vapor stream 316 may drive the power generator 318. Power from the power generator 318 may be used, for example, as turbocharging, supercharging, electricity, or a combination thereof.

    [0041] The illustrated fuel separator 314 may be a flash distillation assembly that separates the input fuel stream 312 into at least two separate fuel fractions (for example, vapor stream 316 and liquid stream 317) based on a relative volatility of the fractional components of the input fuel stream. In some aspects, the flash distillation assembly may include one or more flash tanks that are fitted with screens or similar internal structures to prevent or reduce liquid droplets (mist) from being carried with the vapor stream 316. In some aspects, the flash distillation assembly may be a compact distillation unit filled with structured or random packing, or with trays, to improve the separation and prevent or reduce mist carryover into the vapor stream 316. Further, in some aspects, a number of flash tanks in the flash distillation assembly may be determined by, for example, components of the fuel stream 106 (for example, linear alkanes, branched alkanes, cyclic alkanes, alkenes, aromatics) and their relative volatility, the volatility of additives of the fuel stream 106 such as oxygenates, desired auto-ignition characteristic value of the vapor stream 316 and the liquid stream 317, relative flow rates of the vapor stream 316 and the liquid stream 317, or a combination thereof. Although two output streams (for example, the vapor stream 316 and the liquid stream 317) are shown from the fuel separator 314, more than two output streams (for example, based on a number of fuel separation stages, flash tanks, or otherwise).

    [0042] The power generator 318 is fluidly coupled within the vapor stream 316 between the fuel separator 314 and the heat exchanger 304. The power generator 318, in some aspects, may be a turbine or micro-turbine mounted in the vehicle that receives the vapor stream 316 at a particular pressure, which turns the turbine to generate power, P, and outputs the vapor stream 316 at a reduced pressure to the heat exchanger 304. The auto-ignition characteristic value (for example, RON or cetane number) of the vapor stream 316 may remain unchanged or substantially unchanged as the vapor stream 316 rotates the power generator and loses pressure.

    [0043] The illustrated system 300 also includes a control system 322 that is communicably coupled to the on-board fuel separation sub-assembly 302 (for example, communicably coupled to control one or more of the components, as well as unillustrated components, of the on-board fuel separation sub-assembly 302). In some aspects, the control system 322 may be a mechanical, pneumatic, electro-mechanical, or micro-processor based control system (or a combination thereof). The control system 322 may receive (or store) inputs associated with engine operating characteristics of an engine of a vehicle that includes the on-board fuel separation system 300 and, based on the received (or stored) inputs, send control signals to, for example, one or more valves that adjust or control the flow rates of the fuel stream 106, the heated fuel stream 306, the vapor stream 316, the liquid stream 317, or a combination thereof. The control system 322 may also be communicably coupled to the fuel separator 314 to control, for example, operating temperature, pressure, or pressures, of the flash tank(s) in the fuel separator 314. The control system 322 may also be communicably coupled to the secondary heater 308 to, for example, further add heat to the heated fuel stream 306 prior to the fuel separator 314.

    [0044] Example engine operating characteristics include, for example, engine load, torque and speed and fuel specifications such as vapor-liquid ratio, a vapor lock index, a drivability index, a T90 or T95 property, a fuel lubricity, a fuel viscosity, or an engine speed-torque ratio, among other examples. Such characteristics (as inputs to the control system 322) may be used, at least in part, to adjust one or more operating characteristics of the on-board fuel separation system 302. For example, operating pressure, temperature, or both of the heat exchanger 304, the fuel separator 324, or both, may be adjusted. Flow rates, pressures, temperature, or a combination thereof, of one or more of the illustrated fuel streams (for example, the fuel stream 106, the heated fuel stream(s), the vapor fuel stream 316, the liquid fuel stream 317, or otherwise) may also be adjusted (for example, by controlling valves, not shown, with the control system 322). By adjusting one or more components of the on-board fuel separation system 302 with the control system 318, the auto-ignition characteristic values of one or both of the vapor fuel stream 316 and the liquid fuel stream 317 may be adjusted, for example, to desired values according to engine operating conditions.

    [0045] The illustrated vapor stream 316 and liquid stream 317 may have different auto-ignition characteristic values. For example, in some aspects, the vapor stream 316 may have an auto-ignition characteristic value that is less than an auto-ignition characteristic value of the liquid stream 317. In some aspects, the auto-ignition characteristic values of the vapor stream 316 and the liquid stream 317 may be RON or cetane number.

    [0046] In an example operation, the fuel stream 106 is circulated (for example, forcibly pumped, sprayed, or otherwise) to the heat exchanger 304, as well as the vapor stream 316 output from the fuel separator 314. Heat from the vapor stream 316 is transferred, in the heat exchanger 304, to the fuel stream 106 and output from the heat exchanger 304 as the heated fuel stream 306. The vapor stream 316, which has a particular auto-ignition characteristic value (for example, a low RON relative to the RON of the liquid stream 317), condenses in the heat exchanger 304 as heat is transferred to the fuel stream 106. The condensed vapor stream 319 (now as a liquid stream with the low RON) may be circulated to the fractional fuel tank 116 and stored for use as a fuel source for an engine (for example, engine 134).

    [0047] In some aspects, prior to circulation of the fuel stream 106 to the heat exchanger 304, the fuel stream 106 may be preheated, for example, with electric heating, heating tape, or otherwise. For example, in "cold start" situations (for example, where the engine of the vehicle is being started), the fuel stream 106 may be preheated based on an inability of the vapor stream 316 to provide sufficient heat, in the cold start situation, to the fuel stream 106. In such aspects, one or more of the fuel fractions (for example, the low RON, condensed vapor phase 319 or the high RON liquid phase 317) stored in the fractional fuel tanks 116 and 114 may be used as the cold start fuel for the engine.

    [0048] In some aspects, the vapor stream 316 may not completely condense to a liquid in the heat exchanger 304. In such aspects, the partially condensed vapor stream 319 may be further cooled to more completely condense any remaining vapor in the stream 319. For example, the vapor in the partially condensed vapor stream 319 may be separated and circulated to the engine with an air intake to the engine. As another example, a secondary heat exchanger (not shown) such as a cooling coil, radiator, or otherwise, may further cool the vapor stream 319 (for example, with a cold refrigerant that is part of the vehicle air-conditioning system) between the heat exchanger 304 and the fractional fuel tank 116. As yet another example, a pressure of the partially condensed vapor stream 319 may be increased to further or fully condense the stream 319 prior to the fractional fuel tank 116.

    [0049] The heated fuel stream 306 is circulated through the secondary heater 308, which may or may not add additional heat to the heated fuel stream 306. For example, the secondary heater 308 may be controlled (for example, by the control system 322) to add additional heat so that particular auto-ignition characteristic values (for example, RON or cetane number) may be met in the vapor stream 316 and the liquid stream 317.

    [0050] The heated fuel stream 306 (further heated by the secondary heater 308 or otherwise) is circulated through the orifice 310 and into the fuel separator 314 as the fuel stream input 312. In some aspects, the orifice 310 may be controlled (for example, by the control system 322) to adjust a pressure of the fuel input stream 312 so that particular auto-ignition characteristic values (for example, RON or cetane number) may be met in the vapor stream 316 and the liquid stream 317.

    [0051] The fuel input stream 312 is circulated through the fuel separator 314 and separated (for example, based on relative volatilities of the fractions of the fuel input stream 312) into the illustrated vapor stream 316 and the illustrated liquid stream 317. In some aspects, the fuel separator 314 may separate the fuel input stream 312 into multiple vapor streams and multiple liquid streams, each with a particular auto-ignition characteristic value (for example, RON or cetane number). In such aspects, the fuel separator 314 (for example, flash tanks or distillation units or combination thereof) may have multiple separation stages.

    [0052] In the illustrated implementation, the vapor phase 316 is circulated to the power generator 318 (for example, a turbine or micro-turbine). The vapor phase 316 drives the power generator 318 to generate power, P, and is output from the power generator 318 at a lower pressure (but still in vapor phase) than that at which the phase 316 entered the generator 318. The lower pressure vapor phase 316 is circulated from the power generator 318 to the heat exchanger 304.

    [0053] The liquid stream 317 output from the fuel separator 314, in this example, has an auto-ignition characteristic value (for example, RON) that is higher than the auto-ignition characteristic value of the vapor stream 316. The liquid stream 317 is circulated to the fractional fuel tank 114 and stored for use as a fuel source for an engine (for example, engine 124).

    [0054] FIG. 4 is a schematic illustration of an embodiment of an on-board fuel separation system 400 according to the present invention. The system 400 may be implemented as the on-board fuel separation system 108 in the vehicle 102 shown in FIG. 1. System 400 includes a power generator 424, a two stage heat exchanger system, and a two stage fuel separator system. Thus, the system 400 further separates the vapor stream, obtained from the first flash tank, to high RON oxygenates and low RON compounds.

    [0055] The illustrated on-board fuel separation system 400 includes an on-board fuel separation sub-assembly 402 (designated by the dashed line) that includes several components. As illustrated, the fuel stream 106 is received at a first-stage heat exchanger 404 (for example, a plate and frame heat exchanger, shell and tube heat exchanger, fin and tube heat exchanger, or otherwise). The first-stage heat exchanger 404 also receives an input of a vapor fuel stream 428 a low RON compounds vapor stream) that is output from the on-board fuel separation sub-assembly 402 and circulated back to the first-stage heat exchanger 404.

    [0056] The first-stage heat exchanger 404 outputs a heated fuel stream 406 to a second-stage heat exchanger 408 (for example, a plate and frame heat exchanger, shell and tube heat exchanger, fin and tube heat exchanger, or otherwise). The second-stage heat exchanger 408 receives the heated fuel stream 406 and a combined liquid fuel stream that includes a high RON liquid stream 430 output from a first stage fuel separator 418 and a high RON oxygenate fuel stream 432 from a second-stage fuel separator 422. These two fuel streams combine and are circulated to the second-stage heat exchanger 408 to provide further heat to the heated fuel stream 406 prior to fuel separation. From the second-stage heat exchanger 408, a combined high RON fuel stream 417 is circulated to the fractional fuel tank 114 (for example, a high RON fuel tank). In alternative implementations, one or both of the high RON liquid stream 430 and the high RON oxygenate fuel stream 432 may be supplied to the fractional fuel tank 114 without passing through the second-stage heat exchanger 408.

    [0057] Alternatively, the order of the first- and second-stage heat exchangers may be reversed. A first-stage heat exchanger 404 thus receives the fuel stream 106 and a combined liquid fuel stream that includes a high RON liquid stream 430 output from a first stage fuel separator 418 and a high RON oxygenate fuel stream 432 from a second-stage fuel separator 422. The first-stage heat exchanger 404 outputs the heated fuel stream 406 to the second-stage heat exchanger 408, which receives an input of a vapor fuel stream 428 ( a low RON compounds vapor stream) that is output from the on-board fuel separation sub-assembly 402.

    [0058] The further heated fuel stream 410 is fluidly coupled to a secondary heater 412 (for example, hot coolant, hot exhaust gas, electric heater or otherwise) that can controllably provide additional heat to the fuel stream 410. An orifice 414 (for example, valve, fixed orifice, variable orifice, or otherwise) is fluidly coupled between the heater 412 and a first-stage fuel separator 418. A fuel stream input 416 from the orifice 414 provides the further heated fuel stream 410 (for example, at increased or decreased pressure) to the first-stage fuel separator 418.

    [0059] The first-stage fuel separator 414, in the illustrated embodiment of system 400, separates the fuel stream input 416 into two fuel fraction streams: a low RON vapor fuel stream 420 and a high RON liquid fuel stream 430 based on a volatility of the fuel stream input 416. The high RON liquid fuel stream 430 may be supplied to the fractional fuel tank 114 as described previously.

    [0060] The separated low RON vapor fuel stream 420 is fluidly coupled to a second-stage fuel separator 422. The second-stage fuel separator 422 separates ( based on volatility of the vapor stream 420) the vapor stream 420 into a low RON compound stream 428 and a high RON oxygenate stream 432. As described previously, the high RON oxygenate stream 432 combines with the high RON liquid stream (for example, through the second-stage heat exchanger 408 or the fractional fuel tank 114).

    [0061] The illustrated fuel separators 418 and 422 may be flash distillation assemblies that separate the input fuel streams ( fuel stream 412 and vapor stream 420) into at least two separate fuel fractions based on a relative volatility of the fractional components of the input fuel stream. In some aspects, each flash distillation assembly may include one or more flash tanks that are fitted with screens or similar internal structures to prevent or reduce liquid droplets (mist) from being carried with a vapor stream within the fuel separator. In some aspects, each flash distillation assembly may be a compact distillation unit filled with structured or random packing, or with trays, to improve the separation and prevent or reduce mist carryover into a vapor stream. Further, in some aspects, a number of flash tanks in each flash distillation assembly may be determined by, for example, components of the fuel stream 106 (for example, linear alkanes, branched alkanes, cyclic alkanes, alkenes, aromatics) and their relative volatility, the volatility of additives of the fuel stream 106 such as oxygenates, desired auto-ignition characteristic value of a resultant low RON stream or high RON stream, relative flow rates of the resultant low RON stream or high RON stream, or a combination thereof.

    [0062] In some aspects, one or both of the first-stage fuel separator 418 and second-stage fuel separator 422 may be operated at a vacuum. For example, in some implementations in which a particular auto-ignition characteristic value is desired, the first-stage fuel separator 414, the second-stage fuel separator 422, or both, may be operated under a vacuum (for example, lower than ambient operating pressure) to recover increased high volatility components of the fuel stream input 416 or low RON vapor stream 420.

    [0063] A power generator 424 is fluidly coupled within the low RON compounds (vapor) stream 428 between the second-stage fuel separator 422 and the first-stage heat exchanger 404. The power generator 424, in some aspects, may be a turbine or micro-turbine mounted in the vehicle that receives the low RON compounds (vapor) stream 428 at a particular pressure, which turns the turbine to generate power, P, and outputs the low RON compounds (vapor) stream 428 at a reduced pressure to the first-stage heat exchanger 404. The auto-ignition characteristic value (RON according to the invention, cetane number departing herefrom) of the low RON compounds (vapor) stream 428 may remain unchanged or substantially unchanged as the low RON compounds (vapor) stream 428 rotates the power generator 424 and loses pressure.

    [0064] The illustrated system 400 also includes a control system 426 that is communicably coupled to the on-board fuel separation sub-assembly 402 (for example, communicably coupled to control one or more of the components, as well as unillustrated components, of the on-board fuel separation sub-assembly 402). In some aspects, the control system 426 may be a mechanical, pneumatic, electro-mechanical, or micro-processor based control system (or a combination thereof). The control system 426 may receive (or store) inputs associated with engine operating characteristics of an engine of a vehicle that includes the on-board fuel separation system 400 and, based on the received (or stored) inputs, send control signals to, for example, one or more valves that adjust or control the flow rates of the fuel stream 106, the heated fuel streams 406, 410, and/or 416, the low RON vapor stream 420, the high RON liquid stream 430, the low RON compounds stream 428, the high RON oxygenate stream 432, or a combination thereof. The control system 426 may also be communicably coupled to the first-stage fuel separator 418, the second-stage fuel separator 422, or both, to control, for example, operating pressure, or pressures, of the flash tank(s) in the fuel separators 418 and 422. The control system 426 may also be communicably coupled to the secondary heater 412 to, for example, further add heat to the heated fuel stream 410 prior to the first-stage fuel separator 418.

    [0065] Example engine operating characteristics include, for example, engine load, torque and speed and fuel specifications such as vapor-liquid ratio, a vapor lock index, a drivability index, a T90 or T95 property, a fuel lubricity, a fuel viscosity, or an engine speed-torque ratio, among other examples. Such characteristics (as inputs to the control system 426) may be used, at least in part, to adjust one or more operating characteristics of the on-board fuel separation system 402. For example, operating pressure, temperature, or both of the first or second stage heat exchangers 404/408, the first or second stage fuel separators 418/422, or combinations thereof, may be adjusted. Flow rates, pressures, temperature, or a combination thereof, of one or more of the illustrated fuel streams (for example, the fuel stream 106, the heated fuel stream(s), the low RON vapor fuel stream 420, the high RON liquid fuel stream 430, the low RON compounds vapor stream 428, the high RON oxygenates stream 432, or otherwise) may also be adjusted (for example, by controlling valves, not shown, with the control system 426). By adjusting one or more components of the on-board fuel separation system 402 with the control system 426, the auto-ignition characteristic values of one or both of the vapor fuel stream 420 and the liquid fuel stream 430 may be adjusted, for example, to desired values according to engine operating conditions.

    [0066] The fuel stream 106 and the low RON compounds vapor stream 428 are circulated (for example, forcibly pumped, sprayed, or otherwise) to the first-stage heat exchanger 404. Heat from the vapor stream 428 is transferred, in the first-stage heat exchanger 404, to the fuel stream 106 and output from the first-stage heat exchanger 404 as the heated fuel stream 406. The vapor stream 428, which has a low RON relative to the RON of the liquid stream 430, condenses in the first-stage heat exchanger 404 as heat is transferred to the fuel stream 106. The condensed vapor stream 419 (now as a liquid stream with the low RON) may be circulated to the fractional fuel tank 116 and stored for use as a fuel source for an engine (for example, engine 124).

    [0067] In some aspects, prior to circulation of the fuel stream 106 to the first-stage heat exchanger 404, the fuel stream 106 may be preheated, for example, with electric heating, heating tape, or otherwise. For example, in "cold start" situations (for example, where the engine of the vehicle is being started), the fuel stream 106 may be preheated based on an inability of the vapor stream 418 to provide sufficient heat, in the cold start situation, to the fuel stream 106. In such aspects, one or more of the fuel fractions (for example, the low RON, condensed vapor phase 419 or the combined high RON liquid phase 417) stored in the fractional fuel tanks 116 and 114 may be used as the cold start fuel for the engine.

    [0068] The low RON compounds vapor stream 428 may not completely condense to a liquid in the first-stage heat exchanger 404. The partially condensed vapor stream 419 may then be further cooled to more completely condense any remaining vapor in the stream 419. For example, the vapor in the partially condensed vapor stream 419 may be separated and circulated to the engine with an air intake to the engine. As another example, a secondary heat exchanger (not shown) such as a cooling coil, radiator, or otherwise, may further cool the vapor stream 419 (for example, with a cold refrigerant that is part of the vehicle air-conditioning system) between the first-stage heat exchanger 404 and the fractional fuel tank 116. As yet another example, a pressure of the partially condensed vapor stream 419 may be increased to further or fully condense the stream 419 prior to the fractional fuel tank 116.

    [0069] The heated fuel stream 406 is circulated through the second-stage heat exchanger 408, which also receives the combined high RON liquid stream 430 and high RON oxygenate stream 432 . Heat is transferred, in the second-stage heat exchanger 408, from the combined high RON streams to the heated fuel stream 406.

    [0070] The further heated fuel stream 410 is circulated from the second-stage heat exchanger 408 to the secondary heater 412, which may or may not add additional heat to the heated fuel stream 410. For example, the secondary heater 412 may be controlled (for example, by the control system 426) to add additional heat so that particular RON levels may be met in the vapor stream 420 and the liquid stream 430.

    [0071] The further heated fuel stream 410 (further heated by the secondary heater 412 or otherwise) is circulated through the orifice 414 and into the first-stage fuel separator 418 as the fuel stream input 416. The orifice 414 may be controlled (for example, by the control system 426) to adjust a pressure of the fuel input stream 412 so that particular RON levels may be met in the vapor stream 416 and the liquid stream 417.

    [0072] The fuel input stream 416 is circulated through the first-stage fuel separator 418 and separated ( based on relative volatilities of the fractions of the fuel input stream 416) into the illustrated low RON vapor stream 420 and the illustrated high RON liquid stream 430. The liquid stream 430 output from the first-stage fuel separator 418 a RON that is higher than the auto-ignition characteristic value of the vapor stream 420. The liquid stream 430 is circulated through the second-stage heat exchanger 408 (along with high RON oxygenate stream 432) to the fractional fuel tank 114 and stored for use as a fuel source for an engine (for example, engine 124).

    [0073] The illustrated low RON vapor stream 420 is circulated from the first-stage fuel separator 418 to the second-stage fuel separator 422. In the second-stage fuel separator 422, the low RON vapor stream 420 is separated ( based on relative volatilities of the fractions of the vapor stream 420) into the low RON compounds vapor stream 428 and the high RON oxygenate stream 432. The low RON compounds vapor stream 428 is then circulated to the power generator 424 to drive the generator and produce power. Subsequently, the low RON compounds vapor stream 428 is circulated (at a lower pressure) to the first-stage heat exchanger 404, where it is condensed to the condensed low RON fuel stream 419 for storage in the fractional fuel tank 416 as a fuel source for an engine (for example, engine 124).

    [0074] FIGS. 5A-5C are graphs 500, 505, and 510, respectively, that illustrate results of a simulation model of an on-board fuel separation system departing from he invention as claimed. The simulation model which results are shown in graphs 500, 505, and 510 simulates an operation of an on-board fuel separation system for a vehicle that includes a heat exchanger and single stage fuel separator, for example, as shown in system 200 in FIG. 2. In the simulation model of FIGS. 5A-5C, a fuel stream (for example, fuel stream 106) is 91 gasoline mixed with methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE).

    [0075] Graph 500 illustrates RON of a liquid fuel stream (for example, liquid stream 217) and RON of a vapor fuel stream (for example, vapor fuel stream 216) relative to an operating temperature of a fuel separator (for example, fuel separator 214). In this example, the fuel separator of the simulation model is a single flash tank distillation unit. As illustrated, a relative difference in RON between the liquid fuel stream and the vapor fuel stream generally increases as flash distillation increases (up to 26 in RON difference).

    [0076] Graph 505 illustrates RON of the liquid fuel stream and RON of the vapor fuel stream relative to an operating volumetric flow rate of the condensed vapor fuel stream (for example, fuel stream 219) of the fuel separator. As illustrated, a relative difference in RON between the liquid fuel stream and the vapor fuel stream generally increases as volumetric flow rate of the condensed vapor fuel stream from the flash distillation unit increases (up to 26 in RON difference).

    [0077] Graph 510 illustrates heat flow rate relative to operating temperature of the fuel separator. In graph 510, the "Required Heat" line represents the required thermal energy per liter of incoming fuel in line 106 to achieve the RON differential at the specified temperature (for example, heat supplied to the fuel stream through heat exchanger(s), heaters, or both). The "Coolant" line represents the available thermal energy per liter of incoming fuel in the hot coolant that could be used in heat exchanger 208. In some aspects, beyond about 80°C, this heat is not usable (in heat exchanger 208) as the temperature difference may be zero or negative. The "Exhaust" line represents the available thermal energy per liter of incoming fuel in the exhaust gas that could be used in heat exchanger 208.

    [0078] FIGS. 6A-6C are graphs 600, 605, and 610, respectively, that illustrate results of another simulation model of an on-board fuel separation system departing from the invention as claimed. The simulation model which results are shown in graphs 600, 605, and 610 simulates an operation of an on-board fuel separation system for a vehicle that includes a heat exchanger and single stage fuel separator, for example, as shown in system 200 in FIG. 2. In the simulation model of FIGS. 6A-6C, a fuel stream (for example, fuel stream 106) is 91 gasoline without oxygenates.

    [0079] Graph 600 illustrates RON of a liquid fuel stream (for example, liquid stream 217) and RON of a vapor fuel stream (for example, vapor fuel stream 216) relative to an operating temperature of a fuel separator (for example, fuel separator 214). In this example, the fuel separator of the simulation model is a single tank flash distillation unit. As illustrated, a relative difference in RON between the liquid fuel stream and the vapor fuel stream generally increases as flash distillation increases (up to 29 in RON difference).

    [0080] Graph 605 illustrates RON of the liquid fuel stream and RON of the vapor fuel stream relative to an operating volumetric flow rate of the vapor fuel stream (for example, fuel stream 219) of the fuel separator. As illustrated, a relative difference in RON between the liquid fuel stream and the vapor fuel stream generally increases as volumetric flow rate of the condensed vapor fuel stream from the flash distillation unit increases (up to 29 in RON difference).

    [0081] Graph 610 illustrates heat flow rate relative to operating temperature of the fuel separator. In graph 610, the "Required Heat" line represents the required thermal energy per liter of incoming fuel in line 106 to achieve the RON differential at the specified temperature (for example, heat supplied to the fuel stream through heat exchanger(s), heaters, or both). The "Coolant" line represents the available thermal energy per liter of incoming fuel in the hot coolant that could be used in heat exchanger 208. In some aspects, beyond about 80°C, this heat is not usable (in heat exchanger 208) as the temperature difference may be zero or negative. The "Exhaust" line represents the available thermal energy per liter of incoming fuel in the exhaust gas that could be used in heat exchanger 208.

    [0082] FIGS. 7A and 7B are graphs 700 and 705, respectively, that illustrate results of another simulation model of an on-board fuel separation system. Graph 700 shows an effect of a number of equilibrium stages in a fuel separator (for example, a compact distillation unit or a fuel separator with multiple flash tanks) on an auto-ignition characteristic value; here, RON. Graph 705 shows an effect of a reflux ratio on an auto-ignition characteristic value; here, RON. In some aspects, in a compact distillation unit, the number of equilibrium stages and the reflux ratio are additional design variables, which can be varied to vary RON of the output streams (for example, vapor and liquid streams).

    [0083] FIG. 8 is a schematic illustration of an example controller 800 (or control system) for an on-board fuel separation system according to he embodiment and examples departing from the invention as claimed. The controller 800 can be used for the operations described previously, for example as or as part of the control systems 218, 322, 426 or other controllers described herein. For example, the controller 800 may be communicably coupled with, or as a part of, one or both of a vehicle engine and on-board fuel separation system as described herein.

    [0084] The controller 800 is intended to include various forms of digital computers, such as printed circuit boards (PCB), processors, digital circuitry, or otherwise that is part of a vehicle. Additionally the system can include portable storage media, such as, Universal Serial Bus (USB) flash drives. For example, the USB flash drives may store operating systems and other applications. The USB flash drives can include input/output components, such as a wireless transmitter or USB connector that may be inserted into a USB port of another computing device.

    [0085] The controller 800 includes a processor 810, a memory 820, a storage device 830, and an input/output device 840. Each of the components 810, 820, 830, and 840 are interconnected using a system bus 850. The processor 810 is capable of processing instructions for execution within the controller 800. The processor may be designed using any of a number of architectures. For example, the processor 810 may be a CISC (Complex Instruction Set Computers) processor, a RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer) processor, or a MISC (Minimal Instruction Set Computer) processor.

    [0086] In one implementation, the processor 810 is a single-threaded processor. In another implementation, the processor 810 is a multi-threaded processor. The processor 810 is capable of processing instructions stored in the memory 820 or on the storage device 830 to display graphical information for a user interface on the input/output device 840.

    [0087] The memory 820 stores information within the controller 800. In one implementation, the memory 820 is a computer-readable medium. In one implementation, the memory 820 is a volatile memory unit. In another implementation, the memory 820 is a non-volatile memory unit.

    [0088] The storage device 830 is capable of providing mass storage for the controller 800. In one implementation, the storage device 830 is a computer-readable medium. In various different implementations, the storage device 830 may be a floppy disk device, a hard disk device, an optical disk device, or a tape device.

    [0089] The input/output device 840 provides input/output operations for the controller 800. In one implementation, the input/output device 840 includes a keyboard and/or pointing device. In another implementation, the input/output device 840 includes a display unit for displaying graphical user interfaces.

    [0090] While this specification contains many specific implementation details, these should not be construed as limitations on the scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.

    [0091] It will be understood that various modifications may be made without departing from the scope of said claims.


    Claims

    1. A fuel separation system (108, 400), comprising:

    a fuel separator (108, 418, 422) configured to receive a fuel stream (106, 406, 410) and separate the fuel stream (106, 406, 410), based on a volatility of the fuel stream, into a first vapor stream (428) of relatively lower research octane number compounds and a combined liquid stream of relatively higher research octane number compounds; and

    a heat exchanger (404, 408) fluidly coupled between a fuel input of the fuel stream (106, 406, 410) and the fuel separator, the heat exchanger configured to transfer heat from the first vapor stream (428) to the fuel stream, and output a heated fuel stream (406, 410) to the fuel separator and a second liquid stream (419) of relatively lower research octane number compounds,

    wherein the fuel separator (108, 418, 422) comprises a first stage fuel separator (418) and a second stage fuel separator (422),

    wherein the first stage fuel separator (418) is configured to receive the heated fuel stream (406, 410) and separate the heated fuel stream (406, 410), based on the volatility of the heated fuel stream (406, 410), into a second vapor stream (420) of relatively lower research octane number compounds and a third liquid stream (430) of relatively high research octane number compounds, and

    wherein the second stage fuel separator (422) is configured to separate the second vapor stream (420) separated by the first stage fuel separator (418) into an oxygenate stream (432) and the first vapor stream (428) from which heat is transferred by the heat exchanger (404, 408) to the fuel stream (106, 406, 410),

    wherein the combined liquid stream includes the third liquid stream (430) from the first stage fuel separator (418) and the oxygenate stream (432) from the second-stage fuel separator (422).


     
    2. The fuel separation system of claim 1, wherein the fuel separator (108, 418, 422) comprises a flash distillation separator.
     
    3. The fuel separation system of claim 1, further comprising a heater (412) coupled between the heat exchanger (404, 408) and the fuel separator (108, 418, 422) and configured to receive the heated fuel stream (406, 410) and further heat the heated fuel stream (406, 410).
     
    4. The fuel separation system of claim 1, further comprising a variable orifice (414) fluidly coupled between the heat exchanger (404, 408) and the fuel separator (108, 418, 422).
     
    5. The fuel separation system of claim 4, further comprising a controller (426) operatively coupled to control at least one of the fuel separator (108, 418, 422) or the variable orifice (414) to vary a volumetric flow rate of at least one of the heated fuel stream (406, 410), the first vapor stream (428), or the combined liquid stream.
     
    6. The fuel separation system of claim 5, wherein the controller (426) is configured to vary research octane number values of one or both of the second vapor fuel stream (420) and the third liquid fuel stream (430) based, at least in part, on at least one engine operating condition, wherein the at least one engine operating condition comprises, for example, an engine load, an engine torque, and engine speed, a fuel vapor-liquid ratio, a fuel vapor lock index, a fuel drivability index, a fuel T90 or T95 property, a fuel lubricity, a fuel viscosity, or an engine speed-torque ratio.
     
    7. The fuel separation system of claim 1, wherein the second stage fuel separator (422) is configured to direct the oxygenate stream (432) to combine with the third liquid stream (430) output from the first stage fuel separator (418), and to direct the combined liquid stream to the heat exchanger (404, 408).
     
    8. A vehicle system (100), comprising
    a vehicle (102);
    a fuel-powered internal combustion engine (124) mounted in the vehicle;
    an on-board fuel separation system, comprising the fuel separation system of any preceding claim, wherein the fuel separator (108, 418, 422) is configured to receive fuel stored in the vehicle and separate the fuel;
    a first fuel tank (114) fluidly coupled between the engine and the fuel separator (108, 418, 422) to store the combined liquid stream output from the fuel separator (108, 418, 422); and
    a second fuel tank (116) fluidly coupled between the engine and the heat exchanger (404, 408) to store the second liquid stream (419) output from the heat exchanger (404, 408).
     
    9. The vehicle system of claim 8, further comprising a turbine (424) that comprises an input fluidly coupled to the fuel separator (108, 418, 422) and output fluidly coupled to the heat exchanger (404, 408) and configured to receive the first vapor stream (428) from the fuel separator (108, 418, 422) and generate electrical power based on a pressure difference of the first vapor stream (428) between the input and the output.
     
    10. A method for separating a fuel on-board a vehicle, comprising:

    separating, with a fuel separator (108, 418, 422), a heated fuel stream (406, 410) into a first vapor stream (428) of relatively lower research octane number compounds and a combined liquid stream of relatively higher research octane number compounds based on a volatility of the heated fuel stream (406, 410), , wherein the fuel separator (108, 418, 422) comprises a first stage fuel separator (418) and a second stage fuel separator (422);

    supplying an unheated fuel stream (106) and the first vapor stream (428) from the fuel separator (108, 418, 422) to a heat exchanger (404, 408);

    transferring heat from the first vapor stream (428) to the unheated fuel stream (106) to heat the unheated fuel stream (106);

    supplying the heated fuel stream (406, 410) to the fuel separator (108, 418, 422);

    separating, with the first stage fuel separator (418), the heated fuel stream (406, 410) into a second vapor stream (420) of relatively lower research octane number compounds and a first liquid stream (430) of relatively high research octane number compounds , based on the volatility of the heated fuel stream (106, 406, 410), and

    separating, with the second stage fuel separator (422), the second vapor stream (420) separated by the first stage fuel separator into an oxygenate stream (432) and the first vapor stream (428); and

    supplying a second liquid stream (419) of relatively lower research octane number compounds from the heat exchanger (404, 408).


     
    11. The method of claim 10, further comprising:

    further heating the heated fuel stream (406, 410); and

    supplying the further heated fuel stream (406, 410) to the fuel separator (108, 418, 422), and

    optionally wherein further heating the heated fuel stream (406, 410)comprises at least one of

    a) heating the heated fuel stream (406, 410)with an electric heater (412),

    b) heating the heated fuel stream (406, 410) in the heat exchanger (404, 408) with the combined liquid stream, or

    c) heating the heated fuel stream (406, 410) in a further heat exchanger (412) with an engine exhaust gas stream.


     
    12. The method of claim 10, further comprising circulating the heated fuel stream (406, 410) through a variable orifice (414) fluidly coupled between the heat exchanger (404, 408) and the fuel separator (108, 418, 422).
     
    13. The method of claim 12, further comprising controlling at least one of the fuel separator (108, 418, 422) or the variable orifice (414) to vary a volumetric flow rate of at least one of the heated fuel stream (406, 410), the first vapor stream (428), or the combined liquid stream.
     
    14. The method of claim 13, further comprising varying at least one of the research octane number values of one or both of the second vapor fuel stream (420) and the third liquid fuel stream (430) based, at least in part, on at least one engine operating condition, wherein the at least one engine operating condition comprises, for example, an engine load, an engine torque, an engine speed, a fuel vapor-liquid ratio, a fuel vapor lock index, a fuel drivability index, a fuel T90 or T95 property, a fuel lubricity, a fuel viscosity, or an engine speed-torque ratio.
     
    15. The method of claim 10, wherein the fuel separator (108, 418, 422) comprises a flash distillation separator.
     
    16. The method of claim 10, further comprising:

    combining the oxygenate stream (432) with the first liquid stream (430); and

    supplying the combined liquid stream to the heat exchanger (404, 408).


     


    Ansprüche

    1. Kraftstofftrennsystem (108, 400), umfassend:

    einen Kraftstofftrenner (108, 418, 422), der dazu ausgelegt ist, einen Kraftstoffstrom (106, 406, 410) zu empfangen und den Kraftstoffstrom (106, 406, 410) basierend auf einer Volatilität des Kraftstoffstroms in einen ersten Dampfstrom (428) von Verbindungen mit relativ niedriger Research-Oktanzahl und einen kombinierten Flüssigkeitsstrom von Verbindungen mit relativ hoher Research-Oktanzahl zu trennen; und

    einen Wärmetauscher (404, 408), der fluidisch zwischen einem Kraftstoffeingang des Kraftstoffstroms (106, 406, 410) und dem Kraftstofftrenner gekoppelt ist, wobei der Wärmetauscher dazu ausgelegt ist, Wärme aus dem ersten Dampfstrom (428) an den Kraftstoffstrom zu übertragen und einen erwärmten Kraftstoffstrom (406, 410) an den Kraftstofftrenner und einen zweiten Flüssigkeitsstrom (419) von Verbindungen mit relativ niedrigerer Research-Oktanzahl auszugeben,

    wobei der Kraftstofftrenner (108, 418, 422) einen Kraftstofftrenner einer ersten Stufe (418) und einen Kraftstofftrenner einer zweiten Stufe (422) umfasst,

    wobei der Kraftstofftrenner (418) der ersten Stufe dazu ausgelegt ist, den erwärmten Kraftstoffstrom (406, 410) zu empfangen und den erwärmten Kraftstoffstrom (406, 410) basierend auf der Volatilität des erwärmten Kraftstoffstroms (406, 410) in einen zweiten Dampfstrom (420) von Verbindungen mit relativ niedrigerer Research-Oktanzahl und einen dritten Flüssigkeitsstrom (430) von Verbindungen mit relativ hoher Research-Oktanzahl zu trennen, und

    wobei der Kraftstofftrenner (422) der zweiten Stufe dazu ausgelegt ist, den durch den Kraftstofftrenner (418) der ersten Stufe getrennten zweiten Dampfstrom (420) in einen Oxygenatstrom (432) und den ersten Dampfstrom (428) zu trennen, aus dem Wärme durch den Wärmetauscher (404, 408) an den Kraftstoffstrom (106, 406, 410) übertragen wird,

    wobei der kombinierte Flüssigkeitsstrom den dritten Flüssigkeitsstrom (430) aus dem Kraftstofftrenner der ersten Stufe (418) und den Oxygenatstrom (432) aus dem Kraftstofftrenner der zweiten Stufe (422) enthält.


     
    2. Kraftstofftrennsystem gemäß Anspruch 1, wobei der Kraftstofftrenner (108, 418, 422) einen Entspannungsdestillationstrenner umfasst.
     
    3. Kraftstofftrennsystem gemäß Anspruch 1, ferner umfassend eine Heizvorrichtung (412), die zwischen dem Wärmetauscher (404, 408) und dem Kraftstofftrenner (108, 418, 422) gekoppelt und dazu ausgelegt ist, den erwärmten Kraftstoffstrom (406, 410) zu empfangen und den erwärmten Kraftstoffstrom (406, 410) weiter zu erwärmen.
     
    4. Kraftstofftrennsystem gemäß Anspruch 1, ferner umfassend eine variable Blende (414), die fluidisch zwischen dem Wärmetauscher (404, 408) und dem Kraftstofftrenner (108, 418, 422) gekoppelt ist.
     
    5. Kraftstofftrennsystem gemäß Anspruch 4, ferner umfassend eine Steuervorrichtung (426), die betriebsmäßig dazu gekoppelt ist, mindestens eines des Kraftstofftrenners (108, 418, 422) oder der variablen Blende (414) zu steuern, um einen Volumenstrom von mindestens einem des erwärmten Kraftstoffstroms (406, 410), des ersten Dampfstroms (428) oder des kombinierten Flüssigkeitsstroms zu verändern.
     
    6. Kraftstofftrennsystem gemäß Anspruch 5, wobei die Steuervorrichtung (426) dazu ausgelegt ist, die Research-Oktanzahlwerte von mindestens einem oder beiden des zweiten Kraftstoffdampfstroms (420) und des dritten Flüssigkraftstoffstroms (430) basierend mindestens teilweise auf mindestens einem Motorbetriebszustand, wobei der mindestens eine Motorbetriebszustand beispielsweise eine Motorlast, ein Motordrehmoment und eine Motordrehzahl, ein Kraftstoffdampf-Flüssigkeits-Verhältnis, einen Kraftstoffdampfsperrindex, einen Kraftstofffahrbarkeitsindex, eine Kraftstoff-T90- oder - T95-Eigenschaft, eine Kraftstoffschmierfähigkeit, eine Kraftstoffviskosität oder ein Motordrehzahl-Drehmoment-Verhältnis umfasst, zu verändern.
     
    7. Kraftstofftrennsystem gemäß Anspruch 1, wobei der Kraftstofftrenner (422) der zweiten Stufe dazu ausgelegt ist, den Oxygenatstrom (432) so zu leiten, dass er sich mit dem aus dem Kraftstofftrenner (418) der ersten Stufe austretenden dritten Flüssigkeitsstrom (430) kombiniert, und den kombinierten Flüssigkeitsstrom an den Wärmetauscher (404, 408) zu leiten.
     
    8. Fahrzeugsystem (100), umfassend
    ein Fahrzeug (102);
    einen im Fahrzeug eingebauten kraftstoffbetriebenen Verbrennungsmotor (124);
    ein bordeigenes Kraftstofftrennsystem, umfassend das Kraftstofftrennsystem gemäß einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei der Kraftstofftrenner (108, 418, 422) dazu ausgelegt ist, im Fahrzeug gespeicherten Kraftstoff zu empfangen und den Kraftstoff zu trennen;
    einen ersten Kraftstofftank (114), der fluidisch zwischen dem Motor und dem Kraftstofftrenner (108, 418, 422) gekoppelt ist, um den aus dem Kraftstofftrenner (108, 418, 422) ausgegebenen kombinierten Flüssigkeitsstrom zu speichern; und
    einen zweiten Kraftstofftank (116), der fluidisch zwischen dem Motor und dem Wärmetauscher (404, 408) gekoppelt ist, um den aus dem Wärmetauscher (404, 408) ausgegebenen zweiten Flüssigkeitsstrom (419) zu speichern.
     
    9. Fahrzeugsystem gemäß Anspruch 8, ferner umfassend eine Turbine (424), die einen mit dem Kraftstofftrenner (108, 418, 422) fluidisch gekoppelten Eingang und einen mit dem Wärmetauscher (404, 408) fluidisch gekoppelten Ausgang umfasst und dazu ausgelegt ist, den ersten Dampfstrom (428) aus dem Kraftstofftrenner (108, 418, 422) zu empfangen und basierend auf einer Druckdifferenz des ersten Dampfstroms (428) zwischen dem Eingang und dem Ausgang elektrische Energie zu erzeugen.
     
    10. Verfahren zum Trennen eines Kraftstoffs an Bord eines Fahrzeugs, umfassend:

    Trennen eines erwärmten Kraftstoffstroms (406, 410) mit einem Kraftstofftrenner (108, 418, 422) in einen ersten Dampfstrom (428) von Verbindungen mit relativ niedrigerer Research-Oktanzahl und einen kombinierten Flüssigkeitsstrom aus Verbindungen mit relativ höherer Research-Oktanzahl basierend auf einer Volatilität des erwärmten Kraftstoffstroms (406, 410), wobei der Kraftstofftrenner (108, 418, 422) einen Kraftstofftrenner (418) der ersten Stufe und einen Kraftstofftrenner (422) der zweiten Stufe umfasst;

    Zuführen eines unerwärmten Kraftstoffstroms (106) und des ersten Dampfstroms (428) aus dem Kraftstofftrenner (108, 418, 422) an einen Wärmetauscher (404, 408);

    Übertragen von Wärme aus dem ersten Dampfstrom (428) an den unerwärmten Kraftstoffstrom (106), um den unerwärmten Kraftstoffstrom (106) zu erwärmen;

    Zuführen des erwärmten Kraftstoffstroms (406, 410) an den Kraftstofftrenner (108, 418, 422);

    Trennen des erwärmten Kraftstoffstroms (406, 410) mit dem Kraftstofftrenner (418) der ersten Stufe in einen zweiten Dampfstrom (420) von Verbindungen mit relativ niedrigerer Research-Oktanzahl und einen ersten Flüssigkeitsstrom (430) aus Verbindungen mit relativ hoher Research-Oktanzahl basierend auf der Volatilität des erwärmten Kraftstoffstroms (106, 406, 410), und

    Trennen des durch den Kraftstofftrenner der ersten Stufe getrennten zweiten Dampfstroms (420) mit dem Kraftstofftrenner der zweiten Stufe (422) in einen Oxygenatstrom (432) und den ersten Dampfstrom (428); und

    Zuführen eines zweiten Flüssigkeitsstroms (419) von Verbindungen mit relativ niedrigerer Research-Oktanzahl aus dem Wärmetauscher (404, 408).


     
    11. Verfahren gemäß Anspruch 10, ferner umfassend:

    weiteres Erwärmen des erwärmten Kraftstoffstroms (406, 410); und

    Zuführen des weiter erwärmten Kraftstoffstroms (406, 410) an den Kraftstofftrenner (108, 418, 422), und

    gegebenenfalls wobei das weitere Erwärmen des erwärmten Kraftstoffstroms (406, 410) mindestens eines umfasst von

    a) Erwärmen des erwärmten Kraftstoffstroms (406, 410) mit einer elektrischen Heizvorrichtung (412),

    b) Erwärmen des erwärmten Kraftstoffstroms (406, 410) im Wärmetauscher (404, 408) mit dem kombinierten Flüssigkeitsstrom, oder

    c) Erwärmen des erwärmten Kraftstoffstroms (406, 410) in einem weiteren Wärmetauscher (412) mit einem Motorabgasstrom.


     
    12. Verfahren gemäß Anspruch 10, ferner umfassend das Zirkulieren des erwärmten Kraftstoffstroms (406, 410) durch eine variable Blende (414), die fluidisch zwischen dem Wärmetauscher (404, 408) und dem Kraftstofftrenner (108, 418, 422) gekoppelt ist.
     
    13. Verfahren gemäß Anspruch 12, ferner umfassend Steuern von mindestens einem des Kraftstofftrenners (108, 418, 422) oder der variablen Blende (414), um einen Volumenstrom von mindestens einem des erwärmten Kraftstoffstroms (406, 410), des ersten Dampfstroms (428) oder des kombinierten Flüssigkeitsstroms zu verändern.
     
    14. Verfahren gemäß Anspruch 13, ferner umfassend Verändern mindestens eines von Research-Oktanzahlwerten des einen oder der beiden des zweiten Dampfkraftstoffstroms (420) und des dritten Flüssigkraftstoffstroms (430) basierend mindestens teilweise auf mindestens einem Motorbetriebszustand, wobei der mindestens eine Motorbetriebszustand beispielsweise eine Motorlast, ein Motordrehmoment, eine Motordrehzahl, ein Kraftstoffdampf-Flüssigkeits-Verhältnis, einen Kraftstoffdampfsperrindex, einen Kraftstofffahrbarkeitsindex, eine Kraftstoff-T90- oder T95-Eigenschaft, eine Kraftstoffschmierfähigkeit, eine Kraftstoffviskosität oder ein Motordrehzahl-Drehmoment-Verhältnis umfasst.
     
    15. Verfahren gemäß Anspruch 10, wobei der Kraftstofftrenner (108, 418, 422) einen Entspannungsdestillationstrenner umfasst.
     
    16. Verfahren gemäß Anspruch 10, ferner umfassend:

    Kombinieren des Oxygenatstroms (432) mit dem ersten Flüssigkeitsstrom (430); und

    Zuführen des kombinierten Flüssigkeitsstroms an den Wärmetauscher (404, 408).


     


    Revendications

    1. Système de séparation de carburant (108, 400), comprenant :

    un séparateur de carburant (108, 418, 422) configuré pour recevoir un flux de carburant (106, 406, 410) et séparer le flux de carburant (106, 406, 410), sur la base d'une volatilité du flux de carburant, en un premier flux de vapeur (428) de composés à indice d'octane recherche relativement bas et en un flux liquide combiné de composés à indice d'octane recherche relativement haut ; et

    un échangeur de chaleur (404, 408) accouplé fluidiquement entre une entrée de carburant du flux de carburant (106, 406, 410) et le séparateur de carburant, l'échangeur de chaleur étant configuré pour transférer de la chaleur du premier flux de vapeur (428) au flux de carburant et pour produire un flux de carburant chauffé (406, 410) vers le séparateur de carburant et un deuxième flux liquide (419) de composés à indice d'octane recherche relativement bas,

    le séparateur de carburant (108, 418, 422) comprenant un séparateur de carburant de premier étage (418) et un séparateur de carburant de second étage (422),

    le séparateur de carburant de premier étage (418) étant configuré pour recevoir le flux de carburant chauffé (406, 410) et séparer le flux de carburant chauffé (406, 410), sur la base de la volatilité du flux de carburant chauffé (406, 410), en un second flux de vapeur (420) de composés à indice d'octane recherche relativement bas et en un troisième flux liquide (430) de composés à indice d'octane recherche relativement haut, et

    le séparateur de carburant de second étage (422) étant configuré pour séparer le second flux de vapeur (420), séparé par le séparateur de carburant de premier étage (418), en un flux oxygéné (432) et en le premier flux de vapeur (428) duquel la chaleur est transférée par l'échangeur de chaleur (404, 408) vers le flux de carburant (106, 406, 410),

    le flux liquide combiné incluant le troisième flux liquide (430) du séparateur de carburant de premier étage (418) et le flux oxygéné (432) du séparateur de carburant de second étage (422).


     
    2. Système de séparation de carburant selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le séparateur de carburant (108, 418, 422) comprend un séparateur par distillation éclair.
     
    3. Système de séparation de carburant selon la revendication 1, comprenant en outre un élément chauffant (412) accouplé entre l'échangeur de chaleur (404, 408) et le séparateur de carburant (108, 418, 422) et configuré pour recevoir le flux de carburant chauffé (406, 410) et pour chauffer davantage le flux de carburant chauffé (406, 410).
     
    4. Système de séparation de carburant selon la revendication 1, comprenant en outre un orifice variable (414) accouplé fluidiquement entre l'échangeur de chaleur (404, 408) et le séparateur de carburant (108, 418, 422).
     
    5. Système de séparation de carburant selon la revendication 4, comprenant en outre un contrôleur (426) accouplé de manière fonctionnelle pour contrôler le séparateur de carburant (108, 418, 422) et/ou l'orifice variable (414) pour faire varier un débit volumétrique d'au moins un flux parmi le flux de carburant chauffé (406, 410), le premier flux de vapeur (428) et le flux liquide combiné.
     
    6. Système de séparation de carburant selon la revendication 5, dans lequel le contrôleur (426) est configuré pour faire varier des valeurs d'indice d'octane recherche du second flux de carburant vaporisé (420) et/ou du troisième flux de carburant liquide (430) sur la base, au moins en partie, d'au moins une condition de service de moteur, l'au moins une condition de service de moteur comprenant, par exemple, une charge de moteur, un couple de moteur, une vitesse de moteur, un rapport vapeur-liquide de carburant, un indice de bouchon de vapeur de carburant, un indice de souplesse de carburant, une propriété T90 ou T95 de carburant, un pouvoir lubrifiant de carburant, une viscosité de carburant ou un rapport vitesse-couple de moteur.
     
    7. Système de séparation de carburant selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le séparateur de carburant de second étage (422) est configuré pour diriger le flux oxygéné (432) pour le combiner avec le troisième flux liquide (430) produit par le séparateur de carburant de premier étage (418), et pour diriger le flux liquide combiné vers l'échangeur de chaleur (404, 408).
     
    8. Système de véhicule (100), comprenant :

    un véhicule (102) ;

    un moteur à combustion interne à carburant (124) monté dans le véhicule ;

    un système de séparation de carburant embarqué, comprenant le système de séparation de carburant selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, le séparateur de carburant (108, 418, 422) étant configuré pour recevoir du carburant stocké dans le véhicule et pour séparer le carburant ;

    un premier réservoir de carburant (114) accouplé fluidiquement entre le moteur et le séparateur de carburant (108, 418, 422) pour stocker le flux liquide combiné produit par le séparateur de carburant (108, 418, 422) ; et

    un second réservoir de carburant (116) accouplé fluidiquement entre le moteur et l'échangeur de chaleur (404, 408) pour stocker le deuxième flux liquide (419) produit par l'échangeur de chaleur (404, 408) .


     
    9. Système de véhicule selon la revendication 8, comprenant en outre une turbine (424) qui comprend une entrée accouplée fluidiquement au séparateur de carburant (108, 418, 422) et une sortie accouplée fluidiquement à l'échangeur de chaleur (404, 408) et qui est configurée pour recevoir le premier flux de vapeur (428) en provenance du séparateur de carburant (108, 418, 422) et pour générer un courant électrique sur la base d'une différence de pression du premier flux de vapeur (428) entre l'entrée et la sortie.
     
    10. Procédé de séparation d'un carburant à bord d'un véhicule, comprenant les étapes consistant à :

    séparer, avec un séparateur de carburant (108, 418, 422), un flux de carburant chauffé (406, 410) en un premier flux de vapeur (428) de composés à indice d'octane recherche relativement bas et en un flux liquide combiné de composés à indice d'octane recherche relativement haut sur la base d'une volatilité du flux de carburant chauffé (406, 410), le séparateur de carburant (108, 418, 422) comprenant un séparateur de carburant de premier étage (418) et un séparateur de carburant de second étage (422) ;

    fournir un flux de carburant non chauffé (106) et le premier flux de vapeur (428) en provenance du séparateur de carburant (108, 418, 422) à un échangeur de chaleur (404, 408) ;

    transférer de la chaleur du premier flux de vapeur (428) au flux de vapeur non chauffé (106) pour chauffer le flux de carburant non chauffé (106) ;

    fournir le flux de carburant chauffé (406, 410) au séparateur de carburant (108, 418, 422) ;

    séparer, avec le séparateur de carburant de premier étage (418), le flux de carburant chauffé (406, 410) en un second flux de vapeur (420) de composés à indice d'octane recherche relativement bas et en un premier flux liquide (430) de composés à indice d'octane recherche relativement haut, sur la base de la volatilité du flux de carburant chauffé (106, 406, 410), et

    séparer, avec le séparateur de carburant de second étage (422), le second flux de vapeur (420) séparé par le séparateur de carburant de premier étage en un flux oxygéné (432) et en le premier flux de vapeur (428) ; et

    fournir un second flux liquide (419) de composés à indice d'octane recherche relativement bas par l'échangeur de chaleur (404, 408).


     
    11. Procédé selon la revendication 10, comprenant en outre les étapes consistant à :

    chauffer davantage le flux de carburant chauffé (406, 410) ; et

    fournir le flux de carburant davantage chauffé (406, 410) au séparateur de carburant (108, 418, 422), et

    éventuellement le fait de chauffer davantage le flux de carburant chauffé (406, 410) comprenant au moins une des étapes suivantes :

    a) chauffer le flux de carburant chauffé (406, 410) avec un élément chauffant électrique (412),

    b) chauffer le flux de carburant chauffé (406, 410) dans l'échangeur de chaleur (404, 408) avec le flux liquide combiné, ou

    c) chauffer le flux de carburant chauffé (406, 410) dans un autre échangeur de chaleur (412) avec un flux de gaz d'échappement de moteur.


     
    12. Procédé selon la revendication 10, comprenant en outre l'étape consistant à faire circuler le flux de carburant chauffé (406, 410) par un orifice variable (414) accouplé fluidiquement entre l'échangeur de chaleur (404, 408) et le séparateur de carburant (108, 418, 422).
     
    13. Procédé selon la revendication 12, comprenant en outre l'étape consistant à contrôler le séparateur de carburant (108, 418, 422) et/ou l'orifice variable (414) pour faire varier un débit volumétrique d'au moins un flux parmi le flux de carburant chauffé (406, 410), le premier flux de vapeur (428) et le flux liquide combiné.
     
    14. Procédé selon la revendication 13, comprenant en outre l'étape consistant à faire varier au moins une des valeurs d'indice d'octane recherche du second flux de carburant vaporisé (420) et/ou du troisième flux de carburant liquide (430) sur la base, au moins en partie, d'au moins une condition de service de moteur, l'au moins une condition de service de moteur comprenant, par exemple, une charge de moteur, un couple de moteur, une vitesse de moteur, un rapport vapeur-liquide de carburant, un indice de bouchon de vapeur de carburant, un indice de souplesse de carburant, une propriété T90 ou T95 de carburant, un pouvoir lubrifiant de carburant, une viscosité de carburant ou un rapport vitesse-couple de moteur.
     
    15. Procédé selon la revendication 10, dans lequel le séparateur de carburant (108, 418, 422) comprend un séparateur par distillation éclair.
     
    16. Procédé selon la revendication 10, comprenant en outre les étapes consistant à :

    combiner le flux oxygéné (432) avec le premier flux liquide (430) ; et

    fournir le flux liquide combiné à l'échangeur de chaleur (404, 408).


     




    Drawing
































    Cited references

    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description