Responsible use of natural resources for energy production in the transportation sector is driven by the recognized imperative for sustainability, which is the driver for efforts on improving fuel economy standards and emissions reduction. At current rates, over 70% of annual petroleum consumption in the United States is diverted to the transportation sector, which derives more than 95% of its energy requirements from liquid fuels. Because of the high energy density of liquid fuels, among other reasons, the transportation sector is projected to remain reliant on petroleum-based hydrocarbons for decades to come.
However, the combined approach of developing advanced combustion strategies and liquid biofuels intends to augment this scenario by providing more-efficient, cleaner-burning combustion systems and by providing sustainable sources of liquid fuels that are able to be produced from a growing number of biomass conversion technologies. One critical aspect to the success of these concurrently developing areas is the availability of high-fidelity predictive modeling and simulation tools that can enable co-optimization of different combustion strategies and fuels. Chemical kinetics mechanisms are one piece of the larger modeling puzzle and require basic science input on questions such as how molecular structure impacts ignition chemistry and other combustion phenomena, particularly in blends of hydrocarbons and biofuels.