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Atmospheric Environment 36 (2002) 403–410

Engine performance and pollutant emission of an SI engine

using ethanol–gasoline blended fuels
Wei-Dong Hsieha, Rong-Hong Chenb, Tsung-Lin Wub, Ta-Hui Lina,*
Department of Mechanical Engineering, National Cheng-Kung University, Tainan 70101, Taiwan, ROC
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Southern Taiwan University of Technology, Tainan 71043, Taiwan, ROC
Received 5 February 2001; received in revised form 10 August 2001; accepted 9 October 2001


The purpose of this study is to experimentally investigate the engine performance and pollutant emission of a
commercial SI engine using ethanol–gasoline blended fuels with various blended rates (0%, 5%, 10%, 20%, 30%). Fuel
properties of ethanol–gasoline blended fuels were first examined by the standard ASTM methods. Results showed that
with increasing the ethanol content, the heating value of the blended fuels is decreased, while the octane number of the
blended fuels increases. It was also found that with increasing the ethanol content, the Reid vapor pressure of the
blended fuels initially increases to a maximum at 10% ethanol addition, and then decreases. Results of the engine test
indicated that using ethanol–gasoline blended fuels, torque output and fuel consumption of the engine slightly increase;
CO and HC emissions decrease dramatically as a result of the leaning effect caused by the ethanol addition; and CO2
emission increases because of the improved combustion. Finally, it was noted that NOx emission depends on the engine
operating condition rather than the ethanol content. r 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Alternative fuels; Ethanol; Engine performance; Pollutant emission preface

1. Preface the effects of ethanol contents in the ethanol–gasoline

blended fuel on the engine performance and pollutant
Alcohol has been used as a fuel for auto-engines since emission of a commercial SI engine.
19th century, however, it is not widely used because of
its high price. As a fuel for spark-ignition engines,
alcohol (methanol, ethanol) has some advantages over
gasoline, such as better anti-knock characteristics and 2. Literature review
the reduction of CO and UHC emissions. Although
having these advantages, due to limitation in technol- Alcohol, such as methanol (CH3OH) or ethanol
ogy, economic and regional considerations, alcohol fuel (C2H5OH), is a pure substance. However, gasoline is
still cannot be used extensively. Since ethanol can be composed of C4–C12 hydrocarbons, and has wider
fermented and distilled from biomasses, it can be transitional properties. The alcohol contains an oxygen
considered as a renewable energy. Under the environ- atom so that it can be viewed as a partially oxidized
mental consideration, using ethanol blended with gaso- hydrocarbon. The alcohol is completely miscible with
line is better than methanol because of its renewability water in all proportions, while the gasoline and water
and less toxicity. Based on economic and environmental are immiscible (Furey and Perry, 1991). This may cause
considerations in Taiwan, we are interested in studying the blended fuel to contain water, and further result in
the corrosion problems on the mechanical components,
especially for components made of copper, brass or
*Corresponding author. aluminum. To reduce this problem on fuel delivery
E-mail address: (T.-H. Lin). system, such materials mentioned above should be

1352-2310/02/$ - see front matter r 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
PII: S 1 3 5 2 - 2 3 1 0 ( 0 1 ) 0 0 5 0 8 - 8
404 W.-D. Hsieh et al. / Atmospheric Environment 36 (2002) 403–410

avoided (Coelho et al., 1996). Alcohol can react with of formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and acetone 5.12–13.8
most rubber and create jam in the fuel pipe. Therefore, it times then those from gasoline. Although the emission
is advised to use fluorocarbon rubber as a replacement of aldehyde will increase when we use ethanol as a fuel,
for rubber (Naegeli et al., 1997). On the combustion the damage to the environment by the emitted aldehyde
characteristics, the auto-ignition temperature and flash is far less than that by the poly-nuclear aromatics
point of alcohol are higher than those of gasoline, which emitted from burning gasoline. Therefore, using higher
makes it safer for transportation and storage. The latent percentage of alcohol in blended fuel can make the air
heat of evaporation of alcohol is 3–5 times higher than quality better (Rice et al., 1991) in comparison with
that of gasoline; this makes the temperature of the gasoline.
intake manifold lower, and increases the volumetric From the literature review, we understand that
efficiency. The heating value of alcohol is lower than alcohol–gasoline blended fuels can effectively lower the
that of the gasoline. Therefore, we need 1.5–1.8 times pollutant emission without major modifications to the
more alcohol fuel to achieve the same energy output. engine design. Moreover, the ethanol can be made from
The stoichiometric air–fuel ratio (AFR) of alcohol is biomasses. These factors make it appealing to us in
about 2/3–1/2 that of the gasoline, so the required Taiwan. We therefore use engine test facilities to
amount of air for complete combustion is lesser for investigate the effects of various blend rates of etha-
alcohol. nol–gasoline fuels on the engine performance and
Sustaining a clean environment has become an pollutant emission.
important issue in an industrialized society. The air
pollution caused by automobiles and motorcycles is one
of the important environmental problems to be tackled. 3. Experimental apparatus and method
Since using ethanol–gasoline blended fuels can ease off
the air pollution and the depletion of petroleum fuels Experimental apparatus includes three major systems,
simultaneously, many researchers (Gorse, 1992; Salih i.e., the engine system, power measurement system and
and Andrews, 1992; Chandler et al., 1998; and so on) exhaust measurement system. The engine system used in
have been devoted to studying the effect of these this experiment is a commercial engine, New Sentra
alternative fuels on the performance and pollutant GA16DE, which is a 1600 cm3 multi-point injection
emission of an engine. Palmer (1986) used various blend gasoline engine with cylinder bore and stroke being 76.0
rates of ethanol–gasoline fuels in engine tests. Results and 88.0 mm, respectively, the ports arrangement being
indicated that 10% ethanol addition increases the engine D.O.H.C., and the compression ratio being 9.5. The
power output by 5%, and the octane number can be signals of fuel injectors can be acquired and adjusted by
increased by 5% for each 10% ethanol added. Abdel- the CONSULT, which is an engine tester and diagnostic
Rahman and Osman (1997) recently had tested 10%, tool. The fuel injection rate can be adjusted 725% in
20%, 30% and 40% ethanol of blended fuels in a the open-loop control. Results of the open-loop control
variable-compression-ratio engine. They found that the related to the ethanol–gasoline blended fuel will be
increase of ethanol content increases the octane number, reported in the near future. However, in this experiment,
but decreases the heating value. The 10% addition of the closed-loop control is chosen instead of the open-
ethanol had the most obvious effect on increasing the loop control. In the closed-loop control, the on-board
octane number. Under various compression ratios of central unit controls the fuel injection strategy with
engine, the optimum blend rate was found to be 10% feedback signal from the oxygen sensor placed in the
ethanol with 90% gasoline. exhaust pipe. By using closed-loop control, we can
Bata et al. (1989) studied different blend rates of investigate the effect of ethanol addition on the engine
ethanol–gasoline fuels in engines, and found that the performance and pollutant emission under the original
ethanol could reduce the CO and UHC emissions to fuel injection strategy. The engine output power is
some degree. The reduction of CO emission is appar- metered by the eddy-current dynamometer made by
ently caused by the wide flammability and oxygenated BORGHI & SAVERI (FE60-100-150 Series). In the
characteristic of ethanol. In the study of Palmer (1986), experiment, the concentration of CO, CO2 and HC in
he indicated that 10% of ethanol addition to gasoline the exhaust gas are measured on-line by the analyzer of
could reduce the concentration of CO emission up to UREX-5000-4T with pre-calibration. The AFR and air–
30%. Alexandrian and Schwalm (1992) showed that the fuel equivalence ratio ðlÞ can be calculated simulta-
AFR has great influence on the CO emission. Using neously by the UREX-5000-4 T according to the
ethanol–gasoline blended fuel instead of gasoline alone, compositions of the exhaust. The ZFR-2000 infrared
especially under fuel-rich conditions, can lower CO and detector measures the concentration of NOx. The on-
NOx emissions. However, studies of Chao et al. (2000) line sampling of exhaust gas is taken in the extension
and Rideout et al. (1994) pointed out that using section of the exhaust pipe without the catalytic
ethanol–gasoline blended fuels increases the emission converter, as illustrated in Fig. 1. Due to the pulsed
W.-D. Hsieh et al. / Atmospheric Environment 36 (2002) 403–410 405

Orifice including the initial boiling temperature (IBP), 10%,

50%, 90% distillation temperatures and final distillation
Exhaust temperature. It can be observed that the IBP, 10%, 90%
and final distillation temperatures are almost indepen-
dent of the ethanol content, while the 50% distillation
temperature is decreased with the increase of ethanol
content until 10% ethanol addition. Since the boiling
Exhaust Probe temperature of ethanol is about 751C, and the boiling
Fig. 1. Illustration of the emission measurement location.
temperature of gasoline is 25–2301C, it is suspected that
the decrease of the 50% distillation temperature could
be related to the evaporation of ethanol.
characteristics of the engine, we always take 10
measurements to average the data for each operating
4.2. Engine test of ethanol–gasoline blended fuels
The selected operation conditions for this experiment
Ethanol contains an oxygen atom in its basic form; it
are as follows: the engine speeds are at 1000, 2000, 3000
therefore can be treated as a partially oxidized hydro-
and 4000 rpm; throttle valves are at 0%, 20%, 40%,
carbon. When ethanol is added to the blended fuel, it
60%, 80% and 100% (wide open throttle, WOT)
can provide more oxygen for the combustion process
opening. With these operation conditions, we can have
and leads to the so-called ‘‘leaning effect’’1. Owing to the
a full understanding of the effects of the ethanol addition
leaning effect, CO emission will decrease tremendously;
on the engine performance and pollutant emission.
HC and NOx emissions will also decrease under some
Engine operating conditions (throttle valve opening,
operating conditions. In this section, the effects of the
engine speed, fuel type), torque output, fuel consump-
blended fuels on the engine performance and pollutant
tion rate, intake air quantity and concentrations of NOx,
emission are the main issues and will be discussed in
CO, CO2, HC emissions are recorded for further
4.2.1. Torque output
Fig. 2 shows the torque output of the test engine using
4. Results and discussions different blended fuels under various throttle valve
openings. The figure is divided into 4 plots, which stand
4.1. Properties of ethanol–gasoline blended fuels for the torque output at the engine speeds of 1000, 2000,
3000 and 4000 rpm, respectively. For a fixed engine
Various blend rates of ethanol–gasoline fuels (E0, E5, speed, a higher throttle opening can provide more fuel
E10, E20, E30) have been prepared and then sent to the for burning, i.e. more energy input. Therefore, the
China Petroleum Corp. for ASTM standard analysis. torque output is increased with the increase of the
The ‘‘E’’ designates ethanol and the number next to E throttle valve opening. It also seems that the torque
designates the volume percentage of ethanol. The E5 output of the engine is quite insensitive to the variation
means that 5% ethanol (99.9% purity) was blended with of the blend rate of ethanol–gasoline fuels. However, the
95% gasoline by volume. torque output of pure gasoline (E0) is slightly lower than
From the results of the ASTM analysis, some of the those of E5–E30, especially for low throttle valve
combustion-related properties have been summarized in openings (e.g., 20%) or high engine speeds (e.g.,
Table 1. Table 1 shows the variations of Reid vapor 4000 rpm). Under the conditions of low throttle valve
pressure (RVP), research octane number (RON) and the openings or high engine speeds, the original fuel
heating value as a function of different blend rates of injection strategy tends to operate the engine in fuel-
ethanol–gasoline blended fuels. Table 1 indicates that
with increasing the ethanol content, the RVP increases The original fuel injection strategy controlled by the ECU is
to reach a maximum at E10, and then decreases. This set based on the use of pure gasoline. The stoichiometric air–
result coincides with that of Aulich et al. (1994). Pure fuel ratio for pure gasoline is 14.7 approximately, and that for
ethanol has a RON at E105. Therefore, the RON the blended fuel should be o14.7. The amount of intake air
increases monotonically with the increase of ethanol remains constant, when the engine speed and the throttle valve
opening are kept the same. However, according to the control
content, as shown in Table 1. The heating value of
base of gasoline, the ECU must reduce the fuel supply to
ethanol is lower than that of gasoline. Table 1 further achieve the stoichiometric air–fuel ratio being 14.7, when
indicates that the heating value of the blended fuel ethanol is added. This ultimately makes the air–fuel mixture of
will decrease with the increase of the ethanol content. the ethanol–gasoline blended fuel go leaner. The oxygen in
Table 1 also presents the variations on distillation tem- ethanol gives an additional assistance to achieve lean burning in
peratures of different ethanol–gasoline blended fuels, the engine.
406 W.-D. Hsieh et al. / Atmospheric Environment 36 (2002) 403–410

Table 1
Properties of different ethanol/gasoline blended fuels (E0, E5, E10, E20, E30)

Property item Test fuel Method

E0 E5 E10 E20 E30

Density (kg/l at 15.51C) 0.7575 0.7591 0.7608 0.7645 0.7682 ASTM D4052
RON (octane number) 95.4 96.7 98.1 100.7 102.4 ASTM D2699
RVP (kPa at 37.81C) 53.7 59.3 59.6 58.3 56.8 ASTM D5191
Sulfur (wt%) 0.0061 0.0059 0.0055 0.0049 0.0045 ASTM D5453
Washed gum (mg/100 ml) 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.6 0.2 ASTM D381
Unwashed gum (mg/100 ml) 18.8 18.6 17.4 15 14.4
Lead content (g/l) o0.0025 o0.0025 o0.0025 o0.0025 o0.0025 ASTM D3237
Corrosivity (3 h at 501C) 1a 1a 1a 1a 1a ASTM D130

Distillation temperature (1C) ASTM D86

IBP 35.5 36.5 37.8 36.7 39.5
10 vol% 54.5 49.7 50.8 52.8 54.8
50 vol% 94.4 88.0 71.1 70.3 72.4
90 vol% 167.3 167.7 166.4 163.0 159.3
End point 197.0 202.5 197.5 198.6 198.3

Heating value (cal/g) 10176 9692 9511 9316 8680

Carbon (wt%) 86.60 87.70 86.70 87.60 86.00
Hydrogen (wt%) 13.30 12.20 13.20 12.30 13.90
Residue (vol%) 1.7 1.5 1.5 1.5 1.5
Color Yellow Yellow Yellow Yellow Yellow Visual

14 4.2.2. Fuel consumption

1000 rpm 2000 rpm
12 From the experimental results, we calculated the
10 brake specific fuel consumption (bsfc) to understand the
8 variations of fuel consumption in the test engine using
T est F u el different ethanol–gasoline blended fuels. The bsfc (g/kJ)
6 E0
Torque (kg-m)

4 E5 is defined as the ratio of the rate of fuel consumption (g/

E10 sec) and the brake power (kW).
2 E20
E30 Fig. 3 indicates the variations of the bsfc for different
3000 rpm 4000 rpm blended fuels under various engine speeds and throttle
valve openings. In Fig. 3, the curve of E0 represents the
original fuel injection strategy controlled by the ECU.
8 The bsfc remains constant at low engine speeds (1000,
6 2000 rpm) with throttle valve openings >20%, or at
4 high engine speeds (3000, 4000 rpm) with higher throttle
2 valve openings (above 40%). The theoretical AFR of
0 gasoline is 1.6 times that of ethanol, therefore the bsfc
0 20 40 60 80 100 20 40 60 80 100 should be increased with the increase of ethanol content.
Throttle Valve (%) However, the fuel injection strategy tends to operate the
Fig. 2. Torque output of the engine using different blended engine at fuel-rich condition, and the ethanol addition
fuels under various operating conditions. produces leaning effect to enhance the combustion of
fuel, these factors make no difference on the bsfc
between using pure gasoline and using ethanol–gasoline
blended fuels, as observed from Fig. 3.

rich burning conditions. Therefore, the added ethanol

will produce the leaning effect to increase the air–fuel 4.2.3. Pollutant emissions
equivalence ratio ðlÞ to a higher value, and make the Considering the typical torque outputs for a passenger
burning closer to be stoichiometric. Its final result is that car, we control torque outputs between 11 and 14 kg m
better combustion can be achieved and higher torque to evaluate pollutant emissions from the engine in this
output can be acquired as a consequence. part of experiment. Fig. 4 presents the correlations
W.-D. Hsieh et al. / Atmospheric Environment 36 (2002) 403–410 407

0 .2 between the pollutant emissions (concentrations of CO,

1 0 0 0 rp m 2 0 0 0 rp m T est F u el
E0 CO2, HC and NOx emissions) and the equivalence ratio
0 .1 6
E5 in the range of 11–14 kg m torque output. Fig. 4 shows
0 .1 2 E20 two sets of experiment performing under 3000 and
E30 4000 rpm engine speed, respectively. The equivalence
0 .0 8
ratio ðlÞ is defined based on the air–fuel ratio, and is
0 .0 4 calculated directly by the UREX-5000-4T analyzer while
b sf c (g /k J)

taking measurements. Here, lo1 and l > 1; respectively,

0 denote fuel-rich and fuel-lean operations.
3 0 0 0 rp m 4 0 0 0 rp m
0 .2 For an engine speed of 3000 rpm, Fig. 4 shows that
the concentration of CO emission decreases with
0 .1 5 increasing the equivalence ratio, as l approaches 1. It
is noted that the increase of l is associated with the
0 .1
increase of ethanol content. This indicates that the
0 .0 5 engine tends to operate in leaner conditions, closer to
stoichiometric burning, as the ethanol content is
increased. The combustion process is more complete
0 20 40 60 80 100 20 40 60 80 100
T h ro ttle V alv e (% ) when it is closer to stoichiometric burning; therefore, the
concentration of CO emission decreases. The variation
Fig. 3. Brake specific fuel consumption (bsfc) of the engine of CO emission for the case of 4000 rpm is similar to that
using different blended fuels under various operating condi- of 3000 rpm, except that the CO concentration of the
tions. former is higher due to the shorter combustion time at a
higher engine speed. In Fig. 4, the variation of the CO2
concentration is contrary to that of the CO concentra-
15 tion. When the engine condition goes leaner, the
T est F u el
3 0 0 0 rp m 4 0 0 0 rp m E0 combustion process is more complete and the concen-
T o rq u e (k g -m )

14 E5
E10 tration of CO2 emission gets higher. It would be
13 E30 expected that CO2 concentrations at 4000 rpm are lower
12 than those at 3000 rpm. Furthermore, the concentration
of HC emission decreases with the increase in the
equivalence ratio. The reason for the decrease of HC
concentration is similar to that of CO concentration
C O (% )

4 described above. Considering the NOx emission, Fig. 4

2 shows that the NOx concentration gets higher as the
equivalence ratio approaches 1. As the equivalence ratio
approaches 1, the combustion process is closer to
16 stoichiometric and produces a higher flame temperature;
C O 2 (% )

14 therefore, the NOx emission is increased, particularly by

12 the increase of thermal NO. However, it is important to
address that in this series of engine test, the influence of
the ethanol addition on NOx emission is insignificant as
120 lo1 shown in Fig. 4.
H C (p p m )


40 4.2.4. Overall engine performances

To investigate the influence of different blended fuels
on the torque output and pollutant emissions, results of
the engine test at 3000 rpm with throttle valve opening
N O X (p p m )

of 40%, 60%, 80% and 100% are selected for
comparison, as shown in Figs. 5–9. We choose the case
of pure gasoline (E0) as the basis of the comparison.
Fig. 5 presents the influence of the blended fuels on
0 .8 4 0 .8 8 0 .9 2 0 .9 6 1 0 .8 4 0 .8 8 0 .9 2 0 .9 6 1 1 .0 4
the increase of engine torque output. It can be observed
λ from the figure that at lower throttle valve openings, the
Fig. 4. Correlations between the equivalence ratio and the torque output is either increased or decreased by adding
concentrations of CO, CO2, HC and NOx emissions at 3000 and the ethanol content. However, at higher throttle valve
4000 rpm with torque output of 11–14 kg m. openings (60%, 80%, 100%), the increase of torque
408 W.-D. Hsieh et al. / Atmospheric Environment 36 (2002) 403–410

Fig. 5. Influence of the blended fuels on the increase of engine Fig. 7. Influence of the blended fuels on the increase of CO2
torque output (relative to pure gasoline) at 3000 rpm. emission (relative to pure gasoline) at 3000 rpm.

Fig. 6. Influence of the blended fuels on the reduction of CO Fig. 8. Influence of the blended fuels on the reduction of HC
emission (relative to pure gasoline) at 3000 rpm. emission (relative to pure gasoline) at 3000 rpm.

output grows with the ethanol content ranging from 2% of CO2 emission increases as the ethanol content in the
to 4%. Fig. 6 shows the influence of the blended fuels on blended fuel increases. However, the variations of CO2
the reduction of CO emission. It is found that the emission are not as obvious as those of CO emission.
reduction of CO emission grows as the ethanol content The increase of CO2 emission grows from 5% to 25%
increases. This indicates that the addition of ethanol can depending on the operating condition and the ethanol
reduce the concentration of CO emission efficiently. The content. Fig. 8 represents the influence of the blended
concentration of CO emission can be reduced up to 90% fuels on the reduction of HC emission. It is shown that
depending on the operating condition of the engine. increasing the ethanol content, the concentration of HC
Fig. 7 further shows the increase of CO2 emission by the emission decreases from 20% to 80% in comparison
additional ethanol. It is obvious that the concentration with pure gasoline. Fig. 9 finally indicates the influence
W.-D. Hsieh et al. / Atmospheric Environment 36 (2002) 403–410 409

study, such as the engine test under the open-loop

control of fuel injection and measurements on the
emission of aldehyde, also have been done and will be
reported in the near future.


This study was financially supported by the Commis-

sion on Sustainable Development Research, National
Science Council, and the Bureau of Air Quality
Protection and Noise Control, Environmental Protec-
tion Administration, Taiwan, ROC, under the contract
of NSC88-EPA-Z006-008.


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