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Cryogenic Automotive Propulsion Zero Emission Vehicle
Post: #1

An automotive propulsion concept is presented which
utilizes liquid nitrogen as the working fluid for an open
Rankine cycle. Ambient heat exchangers are used to power
an engine that is configured to maximize heat transfer during
the expansion stroke. If sufficient heat input during the
expansion process can be realized then this cryogenic
propulsive system would provide greater automotive ranges
and lower operating costs than those of electric vehicles
currently being considered for mass production.
feasibility of meeting this engineering challenge has been
evaluated and several means of achieving quasi-isothermal
expansion are discussed.

concept in the field of zero-emission vehicles (ZEV):
the cryogenic automobile.1 The cryogenic automobile
uses nitrogen, stored in liquid stale, as its working
fluid. The liquid nitrogen is pumped up to the system
pressure, then vaporized in a heat exchanger in contact
with ambient air. The resulting high pressure gas is
injected into a quasi-isothermal expander which
produces the system's motive work. The spent, low
pressure gas is exhausted to the atmosphere. One of
the greatest technical challenges of this concept is
designing a heat exchanger that is structurally robust,
works well in a variety of driving conditions and is not
hampered by the buildup of frost. This paper explores
issues pertaining to the design, fabrication and testing
of such a heat exchanger.
I. Introduction
The impetus for this research has been the passage
of legislation in California, New York and
Massachusetts requiring the introduction of zero
emission vehicles to the automobile market. These
maitdates require that by 2003, 10% of the cars sold in
these states will be ZEV's. Because a ZEV is defined
as a vehicle that docs not create any tailpipe pollutants,
the cryogenic automobile meets all the requirements set
forth in these mandates.
The cryogenic automobile is a viable zeroemission
alternative to conventionally powered cars,
and offers environmental and economic advantages
over other ZEV's. The cryogenic automobile avoids
some of the problems associated with lead-acid
baltcrics, which arc still the dominant technology in
the ZEV market. These problems include the
prohibitive mass, limited range, slow recharge limes
and environmental concerns of lead pollution.
Furthermore, the production of liquid nitrogen is
* Graduate Research Assistant, Student Member AIAA
Copyright © American Institute of Aeronautics and
Astronautics, Inc., 1997. All rights reserved.
inexpensive and the cryogenic automobile has no
recurring cost. associated with periodic battery
An additional benefit of a liquid nitrogen-based
energy cycle is that the manufacture of liquid nitrogen
can be accomplished without producing any
atmospheric pollutants. An efficient natural gas-fired
power plant can produce enough energy to liquefy up
to 70% of its own exhaust stream. In the process of
liquefying the nitrogen, COi and other pollutants can
be separated out. In principle, the COi, by far the
largest pollutant from modern gas-fired plants, can be
sold, or disposed of in ways less harmful to the
environment than simply venting it to the
atmosphere.2'3 The economic utility of this aspect
requires further study.
Although the concept of a nitrogen powered
automobile has been studied in the past,4'5 there arc
several key technologies that have yet to be
demonstrated. One of these technologies is the heat
exchanger. Specifically, a heat exchanger must be
designed that is structurally robust, works well in a
variety of driving conditions, and is not hampered by
the buildup of frost.
This paper provides an overview of the first phase
of this research project in which the scope of the
research was defined, an experimental facility was
established, preliminary tests were carried out, and the
direction of future effort was charted. It was found that
an active frost removal system is desirable and that
such a system could be made, provided it satisfied
requirements for durability.

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