Green engine simulation tool developed by VTT speeds up commercialization of new technology

The transition to fossil-free fuels requires new technologies. The GECFD research project coordinated by VTT is creating an open simulation platform to develop the new technologies needed for green fuels and digital modelling of their use.

The new digital tools will enable more cost-effective development work and significantly speed up the commercialization of new technologies. The project is part of two Business Finland Veturi ecosystems: Wärtsilä’s “Zero Emission Marine” (ZEM) and Neste’s “Novel sustainable & scalable solutions for transportation and chemicals”.

Wärtsilä’s ZEM ecosystem involves developing internal combustion engines that utilize green fuels for marine applications. The goal is to promote the transition to carbon-free fuels – especially in shipping, which is a significant source of carbon dioxide emissions in today’s world. Hydrogen is a particularly interesting green fuel.

Modelling the chemistry of green fuel combustion is an important part of the project. The high combustion temperature of hydrogen and use of mixtures of hydrogen and other fuels present challenges in terms of modelling, achieving clean combustion and managing the heat loads on engine structures. The target of modelling heat loads is to simulate a complete engine, which requires the creation of a comprehensive multiphysics model structure.

It will be possible to use the tools developed in this project in many other applications in addition to engines. For example, they are applicable for modelling condensers and evaporators as well as for development work related to the catalytic reactors used when producing synthetic fuels. The latter is also an important research area in Neste’s Veturi program. The tools will be applicable in a wide range of R&D tasks in the chemical and process industries and in equipment design.

Data sharing, new user interfaces and platform-type activities will provide fresh opportunities for industrial research. During the project, the Virtual Laboratory concept will be developed via real user cases. The virtual collaboration methods and concepts implemented in the project will enable efficient co-operation that is independent of location.

The simulation tools developed in the project are based on the OpenFOAM open source software, the main developer of which is CFD Direct. VTT has actively participated in developing multiphase OpenFOAM models for the needs of Finnish industry for several years. The simulation tools developed in the project will become freely available.

In addition to VTT, Wärtsilä and Neste, the other participants in the project are AGCO Power, Koja and Vahterus. VTT is coordinating the project and it is being funded by Business Finland. The total budget is 1.1 million euros.

Further information:
Timo Pättikangas
Research Team Leader, VTT