Methods and systems are disclosed for treating vapors from fuels such as gasoline or diesel fuel in an internal combustion engine, to form hydrogen gas or synthesis gas, which can then be burned in the engine to produce more power. Fuel vapor, or a mixture of fuel vapor and exhaust gas and/or air, is contacted with a plasma, to promote reforming reactions between the fuel vapor and exhaust gas to produce carbon monoxide and hydrogen gas, partial oxidation reactions between the fuel vapor and air to produce carbon monoxide and hydrogen gas, or direct hydrogen and carbon particle production from the fuel vapor. The plasma can be a thermal plasma or a non-thermal plasma. The plasma can be produced in a plasma generating device which can be preheated by contact with at least a portion of the hot exhaust gas stream, thereby decreasing the power requirements of the plasma generating device.
CONTRACTUAL ORIGIN OF THE INVENTION
This invention was made with United States Government support under Contract No. DE-AC07-94ID13223, now Contract No. DE-AC07-99ID13727 awarded by the United States Department of Energy. The United States Government has certain rights in the invention.