Fundamental spray and combustion measurements of soy methyl-ester biodiesel

Autores UPV
Revista International Journal of Engine Research


Although biodiesel has begun to penetrate the fuel market, its effect on injection processes, combustion and emission formation under diesel engine conditions remains somewhat unclear. Typical exhaust measurements from engines running biodiesel indicate that particulate matter, carbon monoxide and unburnt hydrocarbons are decreased, whereas nitrogen oxide emissions tend to be increased. However, these observations are the result of complex interactions between physical and chemical processes occurring in the combustion chamber, for which understanding is still needed. To characterize and decouple the physical and chemical influences of biodiesel on spray mixing, ignition, combustion and soot formation, a soy methyl-ester (SME) biodiesel is injected into a constant-volume combustion facility under diesel-like operating conditions. A range of optical diagnostics is performed, comparing biodiesel to a conventional #2 diesel at the same injection and ambient conditions. Schlieren high-speed imaging shows virtually the same vapour-phase penetration for the two fuels, while simultaneous Mie-scatter imaging shows that the maximum liquid-phase penetration of biodiesel is higher than diesel. Differences in the liquid-phase penetration are expected because of the different boiling-point temperatures of the two fuels. However, the different liquid-phase penetration does not affect overall mixing rate and downstream vapour-phase penetration because each fuel spray has similar momentum and spreading angle. For the biodiesel and diesel samples used in this study, the ignition delay and lift-off length are only slightly less for biodiesel compared to diesel, consistent with the fuel cetane number (51 for biodiesel, 46 for diesel). Because of the similarity in lift-off length, the differences in equivalence ratio distribution at the lift-off length are mainly affected by the oxygen content of the fuels. For biodiesel, the equivalence ratio is reduced, which, along with the fuel molecular structure and oxygen content, significantly affects soot formation downstream. Spatially resolved soot volume fraction measurements obtained by combining line-of-sight laser extinction measurements with planar laser-induced incandescence imaging show that the soot concentration can be reduced by an order of magnitude for biodiesel. These integrated measurements of spray mixing, combustion and quantitative soot concentration provide new validation data for the development of computational fluid dynamics spray, combustion and soot formation models suitable for the latest biofuels.