Chemical Energy Converters

Capacity Area A2 works towards shifting conventional fossil fuel operated powertrains to more efficient internal combustion engines, renewable fuels and fuel cell technologies. The focus is on long-range and heavy-duty applications, as electric propulsion is not expected to meet the demands of these sectors. Research on internal combustion engines focuses on increasing energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas and pollutant emissions as well as utilizing renewable synthetic fuels. Investigated synthetic fuel options are based on renewable surplus electricity and biogenic or solar-chemical processes. In the area of fuel cells, projects concentrate on cost reduction and improved operating conditions as well as hydrogen production from excess electricity (from fluctuating renewable energy sources).


Christian Bach
Head Automotive Powertrain Technologies Laboratory at Empa
058 765 41 37

Automotive Powertrain Technologies Laboratory, APTL
Christian Bach, Coordinator

Paul Scherrer Institute PSI
Electrochemistry Laboratory, LEC
Fuel Cell Systems and Diagnostics
Dr. Felix Büchi, Deputy Coordinator

ETH Zürich
Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control, IDSC
Prof. Dr. Christopher Onder

ETH Zürich
Aerothermochemistry and Combustion Systems Laboratory, LAV
Prof. Dr. Konstantinos Boulouchos

Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz FHNW
Institut für Thermo- und Fluid-Engineering, ITFE
Prof. Dr. Kai Herrmann

Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften ZHAW
Institute of Computational Physics, ICP
Prof. Dr. Jürgen Schumacher


Paul Scherrer Institute PSI (phase I, 2014-2016)
Combustion Research Laboratory, CRL
PD Dr. Ioannis Mantzaras

  • Two phase flow thermal LB model developed for Material characterization (Dec 2014)
  • Proof of concept of spark-ignition spectroscopy in test rig. Identification of basic mechanisms for ignition, combustion and emissions. Task A2.2.1 (Dec 2014)
  • Control investigations for best input-output behavior with respect to achieving a quick and robust light off of the exhaust after treatment system. Task A2.2.2 (Dec 2014)
  • Evaluation of 2-3 most promising combustion process concepts, including a detailed TRL- and development demand, Task A2.2.3 (Dec 2014)
  • Validation of predictions for combustion system behavior on the basis of targeted experiments in the dedicated test-rigs, Task A2.2.1 (Dec 2015).
  • Demonstration of prototype technologies (e.g., fully variable gas-exchange valve train, pilot-injection combustion concept,
    thermoelectric converter) at least on a TRL 3-5, Task A2.2.2 (Dec 2015).
  • Proof-of-concept demonstration of highly-efficient minimal emission in prototype engine for each of the fuels considered above (e.g., for a passenger car and a truck engine), Tasks A2.2.1-3 (Dec 2016).


Cost efficient fuel cell systems

  • Full size thermo-neutral single cell, suited for neutron imaging [6, 2018]
  • Virtual porous material models finished. Macro-homogeneous model of the thermo-neutral cells is ready [12, 2018]
  • Thermo-neutral short stack demonstrator (ca. 10 cells) [12,2020]

IC engine powertrain efficiency increase

  • Establishment and demonstration of operation of new optical engine facility [9, 2017]
  • Detailed experimental and modelling understanding of dual-fuel combustion strategies with different liquid-gas fuel shares and premixed or diffusion combustion mode [12, 2018]
  • Successful identification of measures to minimize CH4-slip from gas engines [9, 2020]
  • Optimized thermal management operating strategy for a dual-fuel (diesel-ignited natural gas) engine [12, 2018] and emission optimized strategy [12, 2020]
  • HESS SwissTrolley+ demonstrator concept vehicle fully operational at VBZ including energy optimal operating strategy [12, 2018] and peak shaving strategy [12, 2020]
  • Advanced CNG passenger car (EU project GasOn) and utility vehicle (Iveco 3.0 l F1C engine) engine concept realized with 15-20% improved fuel consumption [12, 2020]

Renewable fuels

  • FOEN PtX feasibility study finished [12, 2017]
  • Validation of complete chain of hierarchical simulation models for IC engines running on renewable fuels [12, 2018]
  • Finalization of a power-to-350bar-CH4 for mobility demonstrator [12, 2019]

to follow soon