Investigating methane emission control

Part of Today in the Lab – Tomorrow in Energy?

Today in the Lab – Tomorrow in Energy? shines a spotlight on research projects under development in the Technology Collaboration Programmes (TCPs). Learn more about the initiative, read the launch commentary, or explore the TCPs.

Understanding how unburned methane escapes in vehicle engines

What is the aim of this project?

The use of methane as a transport fuel is expected to increase, especially in heavy-duty road transport and in ships. Using methane instead of fossil fuels reduces particulate emissions. It could also reduce CO2 emissions by up to 20% if some technical problems are solved. The aim of this project is to understand how unburned methane escapes in vehicle engines and to show that technologies exist to address this problem.

How could this technology be explained to a high school student?

Methane is a particularly stable hydrocarbon and is not converted as efficiently as other hydrocarbons in combustion engines. At the high temperatures that occur during combustion, methane is burned just as completely as other hydrocarbons. However, in colder areas, such as near the combustion chamber walls and crevices, methane is not properly burned. This project aims to better understand this problem and to find solutions for it.

What is the value of this project for society?

  • improves understanding of methane formation mechanisms
  • reduces methane gas emissions
  • improves combustion processes

At what stage of development is this project?

The project began in 2014 and ran until October 2019.  It identified the most critical types of high methane emitting engines as well as the most important mechanisms behind unburned methane emissions from natural gas engines. The project also identified ways of addressing these mechanisms in future natural gas engines.

What government policies could bring this from the lab to the market?

  • standardising the monitoring, verification and reporting of methane emissions
  • implementing stricter regulations and standards to control particulate matter emissions
  • investing in emissions reduction technologies. 

Test set up for exhaust gas investigations of a hydrogen compressed natural gas (HCNG) operated passenger car. Photo courtesy of EMPA.

Partners and funders


  • AVL MTC AB (Sweden)
  • DTU (Denmark)
  • EMPA (Switzerland)
  • Heesung (Korea)
  • LEVO (Japan)
  • VTT (Finland)


  • The project is funded by the partners.

Learn more

About the Technology Collaboration Programme on Advanced Motor Fuels (AMF TCP)

The mission of the AMF TCP is to advance the understanding and appreciation of the potential of advanced motor fuels to boost transport sustainability. The programme achieves this mission by providing sound information and technology assessments to facilitate informed and science-based decisions regarding advanced motor fuels at all levels of decision-making.