Ostrobothnia Chamber of Commerce Award to Maciej Mikulski

The Ostrobothnian Chamber of Commerce has awarded Maciej Mikulski a prize of EUR 5,000 for scientific articles related to low-emission HCCI and RCCI engines. The award was given on Monday, September 7, at the opening ceremony of the academic year at the University of Vaasa.

Maciej Mikulski is an associate professor of internal combustion engine solutions at the University of Vaasa. He conducts research in the university's new engine laboratory, which is part of the university's VEBIC research platform.

HCCI (Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition) and RCCI (Reactivity Controlled Compression Ignition) are novel, clean, efficient, and fuel-flexible combustion technologies.

– Together with sustainable fuels, these technologies form a promising short-term solution for decarbonization of energy production and heavy transport, while satisfying future emission legislation, says Mikulski.

The Chamber of Commerce Award is granted for research, publication or dissertation related to the energy sector and conducted at the University of Vaasa during the previous academic year. This will be the fourth time that the award is given.

– We established the award to celebrate our 100th anniversary. We decided to focus the award on the energy sector, because energy is the sector the Vaasa region is known for elsewhere in Finland and around the world. In this way, we will further increase the awareness of the energy industry, the Vaasa region and the university. Combating climate change and sustainable development are also important values ​​for our companies. We hope that the award will also be one of the links that will advance the co-operation between society and the university, says Juha Häkkinen, CEO of the Ostrobothnian Chamber of Commerce.

The award-winning scientific articles have appeared in Applied Energy. The journal is a leading scientific publication platform for Energy-related research that has a clear application potential. The Journal has been rated at the highest level in the Finnish Publications Forum classification (Jufo3).

Through fundamentals of reactivity enhancement to a breakthrough in gas engine technology

The awarded research brings forward an innovative idea of using part of the engine cycle to act as a poly-generation reactor – altering the reactivity and thermal state of the fuel-air mixture on a cycle-to-cycle basis.

According to the results, this on-demand reactivity allows efficient low-temperature HCCI-like combustion across the whole engine load to be maintained.  The concept is based on the new, yet proven, engine components, and it accommodates the latest advantages in combustion control. The research explains the mechanisms of improved combustion efficiency and translates these mechanisms into control strategies – thus bridging the gap between fundamental research on RCCI/HCCI and its industrial application.

The research direction of associate professor Mikulski concerning RCCI is high on the agenda for the world’s combustion research community and major engine manufacturers, including global industry leaders in Finland. The published results can form a convincing argument for the technology to be implemented in the next-generation marine and power plant engines. This can help reduce one of the biggest hurdles of contemporary gas engine technology. This means the methane slip and sensitivity to fuel quality. Mikulski's research indicated that for a modern dual fuel gas engine, switching to RCCI mode – methane emissions can be reduced by 70 percent while enabling two-percentage point higher efficiency.

Finland on the front line of advanced engine technology through industry-academia collaboration

– I am particularly happy about this award since it sends an important signal to the community: Combustion engines are and will remain a curtail element of the energy-related ecosystem, says Mikulski.

According to Mikulski, the current energy transition is a big challenge, but also a big opportunity for combustion research.

– To meet the challenge and seize the opportunity, broad community support is necessary, and various stakeholders need to start working together on a common and unbiased vision. In Finland we have taken an important step towards this success, says Mikulski.

He is the leader of the Clean Propulsion Technology project that is currently being negotiated with Business Finland.

As a unique deliverable, the project develops the first full-scale multi-cylinder mid-speed NG-RCCI platform in the University of Vaasa VEBIC engine lab and explores its coupling with advanced after-treatment solutions and hybrid propulsion towards fully developed powertrain of the future. The project is slated to begin in the first quarter of 2021.

The awarded articles

  • Mikulski M., P. Balakrishnan, J. Hunicz 2019. Natural Gas-Diesel Reactivity Controlled Compression Ignition with Negative Valve Overlap and In-Cylinder Fuel Reforming. Applied Energy 254, 113638. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apenergy.2019.113638
  • Hunicz, J., M. Mikulski, M.S. Geca, A. Rybak 2020. An applicable approach to mitigate pressure rise rate in an HCCI engine with negative valve overlap. Applied Energy, 257. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apenergy.2019.114018

Further information

Maciej Mikulski, Associate Professor (tenure track), University of Vaasa, tel. 029 449 8591, maciej.mikulski (at) univaasa.fi

Renewable energy
Technology and Innovations