The Boston Reformed Fuel Car



National West Coast Meeting
Authors Abstract
International Materials undertook to develop an inherently low-polluting automobile, the “Boston Car,”* with two fixed design parameters: the use of an internal combustion engine and the use of gasoline fuel. On-board production of carbon dioxide-hydrogen mixtures to fuel the engine was the approach undertaken; gasoline was reacted with steam to produce a “reformed” fuel upstream from the engine. Initial efforts to develop an engine to burn the mixture revealed problems with respect to starting reliability and high rpm carburetor flashback. Starting reliability was achieved by providing accurate air/fuel ratios at cranking speeds. It was necessary to employ a spark distributor lacking any provisions for spark advance in order to guarantee elimination of flashback at advanced rpms. These modifications have resulted in extremely fine road performance from the test vehicle, comparable to the production model prior to modification.
The reformed fuel production unit involved miniaturization of certain refinery techniques for the production of synthetic gas mixtures. In engineering this miniaturization, certain central factors were encountered. Development of reliable metering and pumping systems, heat exchange mechanisms, burner assembly, and reformer canister involved relatively straightforward engineering programs. Carbon deposition in the reformer coil, however, proved to be a peculiarly difficult problem but proprietary designs have allowed solution of this problem, insuring increased thermal efficiency and unit life.
The Boston Car concept retains all of the advantages of standard automotive technology. Low profile fuel system changes are involved, and production feasible innovations. High system efficiencies and engine performance provide the comfort of use required for consumer acceptability. Extremely low emissions signature provides an adequate resolution for the problem of air pollution from mobile sources.
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Newkirk, M., and Abel, J., "The Boston Reformed Fuel Car," SAE Technical Paper 720670, 1972,
Additional Details
Feb 1, 1972
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Content Type
Technical Paper