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Comparative performance and emissions study of a direct injection Diesel engine

using blends of Diesel fuel with vegetable oils or bio-diesels of various origins
C.D. Rakopoulos, ,
K.A. Antonopoulos,
D.C. Rakopoulos,
D.T. Hountalas,
E.G. Giakoumis
Internal Combustion Engines Laboratory, Thermal Engineering Department, School
of Mechanical Engineering, National Technical University of Athens, 9 Heroon
Polytechniou Street, Zografou Campus, 15780 Athens, Greece
Received 10 October 2005, Accepted 30 January 2006, Available online 29 March
2006
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doi:10.1016/j.enconman.2006.01.006
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Abstract
An extended experimental study is conducted to evaluate and compare the use of
various Diesel fuel supplements at blend ratios of 10/90 and 20/80, in a standard,
fully instrumented, four stroke, direct injection (DI), Ricardo/Cussons Hydra Diesel
engine located at the authors laboratory. More specifically, a high variety of
vegetable oils or bio-diesels of various origins are tested as supplements, i.e.
cottonseed oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil and their corresponding methyl esters, as
well as rapeseed oil methyl ester, palm oil methyl ester, corn oil and olive kernel oil.
The series of tests are conducted using each of the above fuel blends, with the
engine working at a speed of 2000 rpm and at a medium and high load. In each
test, volumetric fuel consumption, exhaust smokiness and exhaust regulated gas
emissions such as nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO) and total unburned
hydrocarbons (HC) are measured. From the first measurement, specific fuel
consumption and brake thermal efficiency are computed. The differences in the
measured performance and exhaust emission parameters from the baseline
operation of the engine, i.e. when working with neat Diesel fuel, are determined and
compared. This comparison is extended between the use of the vegetable oil blends
and the bio-diesel blends. Theoretical aspects of Diesel engine combustion,
combined with the widely differing physical and chemical properties of these Diesel

fuel supplements against the normal Diesel fuel, are used to aid the correct
interpretation of the observed engine behavior.
Keywords
Diesel engine;
Diesel fuel blends;
Vegetable oil;
Bio-diesel;
Comparative performance;
Emissions

1. Introduction
Engine manufacturers have succeeded in developing Diesel engines with high
thermal efficiency and power concentration, always keeping inside the frame of
complying with the imposed emission regulations that become every day more and
more stringent [1] and [2]. Significant advantages towards the development of
cleaner Diesel engines have been achieved over the last few years through the use
of common rail systems, fuel injection control strategies including multi-stage
injection, turbochargers, exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) and exhaust gas after
treatment devices [3], [4], [5] and [6]. However, these emission control alternatives
are usually escorted by fuel consumption or cost penalties, while at the same time,
the request for improving the pollutant emissions behavior of the existing vehicle
fleets powered by Diesel engines has become mandatory.
Therefore, for the reduction of pollutant emissions, research scientists have focused
their interest also on the areas of alternative fuels, often in fumigated form [7], [8],
[9] and [10], and on the use of Diesel fuel improving additives [11]. On the other
hand, oxygenated fuels or oxygen enriched intake air show the capacity to reduce
the particulate emissions [12], [13], [14] and [15] but usually under a companion
increase of the emitted nitrogen oxides (NOx) that relates to the well known
Soot/NOx trade off [16] and [17]. It is true that sometimes resort is being made to
the simultaneous use of fuels with improved properties and techniques, such as
injection process manipulation, oxidation catalyst and exhaust gas recirculation, for
obtaining the desirable results [18] and [19].
Concerning the environmental aspect, rational and efficient end use technologies
are identified as key options for achievement of the Kyoto targets of greenhouse gas
emissions reduction. For the transport sector of the European Union, energy savings
of 510% in the medium term and an aggregate of 25% in the long term (2020) are

targeted, with an expected cut of CO2 emissions by 8% by the year 2010. In


recognition of the contribution of motor vehicle exhaust emissions to the rising
urban and global air pollution, the European Commission has introduced strict
emission regulations with the goal of improving air quality through the reduction of
gaseous and particulate exhaust emissions from a wide range of vehicles. In
particular, automotive fuel (conventional and alternative) quality has proved to be
one of the main factors in order to meet the mandatory emission limits adopted for
2005 [20] and [21].
Another aspect of the problem concerns the use not only of Diesel fuel and gasoline
but also the use of alternative fuels of renewable nature. Favorable fuels of the last
category could be bio-fuels made from agricultural products, which not only may
offer benefits in terms of exhaust emissions, but they will also reduce Europes, and
the worlds in general, dependence on oil imports and help farmers. Among these,
bio-ethanol and especially vegetable oils or their derived bio-diesels (methyl or
ethyl esters) are recently considered as the most promising fuels (oxygenated by
nature) to supplant a fraction of petroleum distillates, having the added advantage
of being derived from biological sources showing an ad hoc advantage in emitted
CO2 (carbon dioxide) reduction [22], [23], [24] and [25].
Because of its high octane number, bio-ethanol is a good spark ignition engine fuel
[18], although it has been tried recently also as a Diesel fuel supplement despite its
poor miscibility with Diesel fuel [25], [26] and [27]. On the contrary, vegetable oils
and bio-diesels are very good Diesel engine fuels due to their reasonably high
cetane number. Bio-diesel is a renewable fuel that can be produced through
transesterification from a variety of vegetable oils including rapeseed oil, soybean
oil, sunflower oil and palm oil. The more widely used ones are rapeseed methyl
ester (RME) in Europe and soybean methyl ester (SME) in the USA, collectively
known as fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) [23].
Their major problem is associated with their highly increased viscosity, 1020 times
greater than that of normal Diesel fuel. Thus, although short term tests using neat
vegetable oils showed promising results, problems appeared after the engine had
been operated for longer periods. These included: injector coking with trumpet
formation, more carbon deposits and piston oil ring sticking, as well as thickening
and gelling of the engine lubricating oil.
To solve the problems associated with the very high viscosity of neat vegetable oils,
the following usual methods are adopted: blending in small blend ratios with normal
Diesel fuel, micro-emulsification with methanol or ethanol, cracking and their
conversion into bio-diesel fuels. The latter are manufactured from their
corresponding vegetable oils, in batch or continuous systems, mainly through the
transesterification process, where one ester is converted into another [23] and [24].
This reaction proceeds with catalyst (base or acid) or without catalyst by using
primary or secondary monohydric aliphatic alcohols, where the glycerol based

triesters (or triacyl glycerides) that make up the fats and oils are converted into
monoesters yielding free glycerol as a by product.
Triglycerides+MonohydricalcoholMonoalkylesters+GlycerolTriglycerides+MonohydricalcoholMono-alkylesters+Glycerol
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It is evident from the above reaction that bio-diesel fuels consist of a mixture of
transesterified free fatty acids of high molecular weight. Typical chemical syntheses
of bio-fuels are reported in the literature based on the distribution of the fatty acids
in their corresponding vegetable oils [23].
The advantages of bio-diesels as Diesel fuel, apart from their renewability, are their
minimal sulfur and aromatic content, higher flash point, higher lubricity, higher
cetane number and higher biodegradability and non-toxicity. On the other hand,
their disadvantages include their higher viscosity, higher pour point, lower calorific
value and lower volatility. Furthermore, their oxidation stability is lower, they are
hygroscopic, and as solvents, they may cause corrosion of components, attacking
some plastic materials used for seals, hoses, paints and coatings. They show
increased dilution and polymerization of engine sump oil, thus requiring more
frequent oil changes.
For all the above reasons, it is generally accepted that blends of standard Diesel
fuel with 10% or up to 20% (by volume) vegetable oils or bio-diesels can be used in
existing Diesel engines without any modifications, but there are concerns about the
use of higher percentage blends that can limit the durability of various components,
leading to engine malfunctioning. Thus, neat vegetable oils or bio-diesels are not
viable options at present, but their addition to Diesel fuel at low concentrations can
be considered as equivalent to other oxygenated fuel additives, of course with the
added advantage of renewability and emitted CO2 reduction.
The substitution of normal Diesel fuels with soybean methyl ester is already a
reality in some activities in the USA, while its substitution with rapeseed methyl
ester comprises a commercial activity in many countries of Central Europe (Austria,
Germany, France). In other countries with very warm climates, as for example in
Malaya, palm oil methyl ester is the corresponding substitute [23]. Rapeseed is
widely grown in temperate climates and is, therefore, of greater strategic interest in
Europe, where it is grown in increasingly large quantities. However, the use of biodiesels has not been expanded in Southern Europe, including Greece, because of
the lack of rapeseed cultivation. Nonetheless, vegetable oils are produced from
other oil seed crops affiliated with the temperatewarm climates in Southern
Europe, such as cottonseed oil, sunflower oil, corn oil and olive oil, which can be
very good candidates for bio-diesel production.

A number of researchers have investigated experimentally the performance and


emissions characteristics of either the vegetable oils [28], [29], [30], [31], [32],
[33] and [34] or bio-diesels [35], [36], [37], [38], [39] and [40] when fuelling Diesel
engines, mainly focused on the use of rapeseed oil or soybean oil. The present work
studies and compares a very extended variety of vegetable oils and bio-diesels of
various origins tested as supplements of normal Diesel fuel, ranging from the
exotic palm oil associated with warm climates to soybean and rapeseed oil
associated with temperate climates, incorporating in between the vegetable oils
grown in temperate to warm climates (e.g. in the Mediterranean area), such as
cottonseed oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, olive kernel oil and their methyl esters. In this
way, a clearer picture is produced showing the relative performance and emissions
characteristics of these fuels. The present study examines their blend ratios of
10/90 and 20/80 (by volume) in a standard, fully instrumented, four stroke, direct
injection, Ricardo/Cussons Hydra Diesel engine located at the authors laboratory.
The series of tests are conducted using each of the above fuel blends with the
engine working at a speed of 2000 rpm and at a medium and high load
corresponding to 38% and 75% of full load, respectively. Owing to the differences
among the calorific values of the fuels tested, the comparison data was taken at the
same engine brake mean effective pressure, i.e. load. In each test, volumetric fuel
consumption, exhaust smokiness and exhaust regulated gas emissions, such as
nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO) and total unburned hydrocarbons
(HC), are measured. From the first measurement, the specific fuel consumption and
the brake thermal efficiency are computed using the sample density and lower
calorific value. The differences in the measured performance and exhaust emission
parameters from the baseline operation of the engine, i.e. when working with neat
Diesel fuel, are determined and compared. This comparison is extended between
the use of vegetable oil blends and bio-diesel blends.
Theoretical aspects of Diesel engine combustion, taking into consideration the
widely differing physical and chemical properties of these Diesel fuel supplements
against normal Diesel fuel, are used to aid the correct interpretation of the observed
engine behavior and explain their relative performance. It is pointed out that there
seems to be an obvious scarcity of theoretical models scrutinizing the formation
mechanisms of combustion generated emissions when using these fuels, unlike the
advanced models existing for the study of Diesel engines using conventional Diesel
fuel [41], [42], [43] and [44]. Although the effects of oxygen content and type of
soot formation and oxidation process and NO formation mechanism (chemical
effects) are of importance, having not been elucidated yet, it is expected that the
widely differing physical properties of these fuels, against the normal Diesel fuel,
will play a major role on the fuel spray formation mechanism and, consequently, on
the combustion mechanism and the related formed emissions.
In Ref. [45], a detailed experimental study of the physical mechanisms that directly
influence the combustion process is presented, from the injection system

hydrodynamics to the spray behavior, by noting that in the cases where detailed
studies of the combustion process with FAME have been carried out, the analysis
was purely chemical. Moreover, the lack of such an investigation using a sound
theoretical model in the open literature is apparent. The first three authors have
recently reported in Ref. [46] a multi-zone spray development model for the engine
in hand when using vegetable oils or their derived bio-diesels, limiting the modeling
of the spray formation only to the related investigation of the physical processes by
decoupling it from the effect of the chemical parameters after the initiation of
combustion. Useful conclusions from this examination can then be combined, at a
later stage, with the overlapping or consequent chemical effects in a multi-zone full
combustion model that is to be reported later.
2. Experimental test facility
2.1. Engine description
Facilities to monitor and control engine variables, such as engine speed, load, water
and lube oil temperatures, fuel and air flows etc., are installed on a fully automated
test bed, single cylinder, water cooled, Ricardo/Cussons Hydra, experimental
standard engine located at the first authors laboratory. On the test bed, the engine
is coupled to a McClure electric DC dynamometer [43] and [44].
The engine has the ability to operate on the Otto (spark ignition) or direct injection
(DI) or indirect injection (IDI) Diesel (compression ignition), four stroke principle, by
changing various parts of the crank gear mechanism, cylinder and head. For the
present study, it is used as a naturally aspirated, DI Diesel engine, operating in a
rotational speed range of 10004500 rpm. The engine cylinder bore is 0.08026 m,
the piston stroke is 0.08890 m and the compression ratio is 19.8:1. The inlet valve
opens at 8 crank angle (CA) before top dead center (TDC) and closes at 42 CA
after bottom dead center (BDC). The exhaust valve opens at 60 CA before BDC and
closes at 12 CA after TDC. It has a re-entrant, bowl in piston combustion chamber
with an injector nozzle having four holes, 0.25 mm diameter each, drilled
symmetrically around its tip, forming a spray cone angle of 160. The Diesel fuel
injection pump is fitted with an 11 mm diameter plunger. A Bosch injector body is
used, which opens at a pressure of 250 bar. A range of 040 CA (static) advance
(i.e. before TDC) is provided.
Fig. 1 shows a full schematic arrangement of the engine test bed, instrumentation
and data logging system.

<img
class="figure large" border="0" alt="Full-size image (59 K)" src="http://originars.els-cdn.com/content/image/1-s2.0-S0196890406000379-gr1.jpg" datathumbEID="1-s2.0-S0196890406000379-gr1.sml" data-imgEIDs="1-s2.0S0196890406000379-gr1.jpg" data-fullEID="1-s2.0-S0196890406000379-gr1.jpg">
Fig. 1.
Schematic arrangement of the engine test bed, instrumentation and data logging
system.
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2.2. Test installation description

The engine is mounted on a fully automated test bed and coupled to a McClure DC
electric motoring dynamometer, having load absorbing and motoring capabilities,
which brings a load cell for the engine torque measurements. There is one electric
sensor for the speed and one for the load (torque), with these signals fed to
indicators on the control panel and to the controller. Via knobs on the control panel,
the operator can set the dynamometer to control speed or load. There is also a
capability of setting automatically the static injection timing from a switch on the
control panel.
The coolant (water) and lube oil circulation is achieved by electrically driven pumps,
with the temperatures controlled by water fed heat exchangers. The secondary
water cooling system for these exchangers was shop made, comprising a big water
tank and a corresponding (secondary) heat exchanger. Heaters are used to maintain
oil and coolant temperatures during warm up and light load conditions.
Thermocouples are located at strategic points in the engine, with their indications
shown on a multi-point electronic temperature indicator. The engine exhaust system
is connected to a shop made silencer system. A viscous type, Alcock, laminar flow
meter is used for measurement of the air flow aspirated by the engine.
A shop made tank and flow metering system is used for fuel consumption
measurements of the various blend samples as follows. A glass burette of known
volume was placed in parallel to the 3.5-l tank, and the time was measured for its
complete evacuation of the fuel sample feeding the engine. A system of pipes and
valves was constructed in order to have a quick drain of a fuel sample, including the
return fuel from the pump and injector, and the refill of the metering system with
the new fuel sample.
2.3. Exhaust gas analysis system
The exhaust gas analysis system consists of a group of analyzers for measuring soot
(smoke), nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide and total unburned hydrocarbons
(HC). The smoke level in the exhaust gas was measured with a Bosch RTT-100
opacimeter, the readings of which are provided as Hartridge units (% opacity) or
equivalent smoke (soot) density (milligrams of soot per cubic meter of exhaust
gases).
The nitrogen oxides concentration in ppm (parts per million, by volume) in the
exhaust was measured with a Signal Series-4000 chemiluminescent analyzer (CLA)
and was fitted with a thermostatically controlled heated line. The CO concentration
(in ppm) in the exhaust was measured with a Signal Series-7200 non-dispersive
infrared analyzer (NDIR). The total unburned hydrocarbons concentration (in ppm)
in the exhaust was measured with a Ratfisch-Instruments flame ionization detector
(FID) and was fitted with a thermostatically controlled heated line.
3. Fuels properties

A high variety of vegetable oils or bio-diesels of various origins are tested as


supplements to the normal Diesel fuel, i.e. cottonseed oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil
and their corresponding methyl esters, as well as rapeseed oil methyl ester, palm oil
methyl ester, corn oil and olive kernel oil, at blend ratios of 10/90% and 20/80% (by
volume) with the conventional Diesel fuel.
The conventional Diesel fuel was supplied by the Aspropyrgos Refineries of the
Hellenic Petroleum SA and represents the typical, Greek road (automotive), low
sulfur (0.035%) Diesel fuel (gas oil); it formed the baseline fuel of the present study.
The vegetable oils were obtained from commercial processing facilities; they were
refined and degummed, very nearly the edible type. No additives were used, nor
were the samples subjected to any further refining or degumming processes. The
bio-diesels (methyl esters) used were supplied from and produced at the Chemical
Process Laboratory of the School of Chemical Engineering of the National Technical
University of Athens through transesterification with methanol of the corresponding
feedstock raw material at a pilot plant using KOH as catalyst [47].
The properties of the Diesel fuel used, the vegetable oils and the bio-diesels are
summarized in Table 1; they are typical values taken from the various references
mentioned above. The actual density values were measured at the laboratory. It is
to be noted that the kinematic viscosity and cetane number values stated are not
used computationally in this study. They are only provided for indicative purposes in
order to explain qualitatively the relative performance and emissions behavior of
the different fuel blends.
Table 1.
Properties of Diesel fuel, vegetable oils and bio-diesels
Fuel properties

Density at
Kinematic viscosity
15 C (kg/m3) at 40 C (mm2/s)

Lower calorific
value (kJ/kg)

Cetane
number ()

Diesel fuel

837

42,700

50

Cottonseed oil
methyl ester

885

37,500

52

Soybean oil
methyl ester

885

4.1

37,300

51

Sunflower oil
methyl ester

880

4.4

37,500

50

Rapeseed oil
methyl ester

885

4.7

37,300

53

Palm oil methyl

870

4.5

37,200

50

Density at
Kinematic viscosity
15 C (kg/m3) at 40 C (mm2/s)

Lower calorific
value (kJ/kg)

Cetane
number ()

Cottonseed oil

910

34

36,800

38

Soybean oil

925

33

37,000

38

Sunflower oil

920

34

36,500

37

Corn oil

915

35

36,300

38

Olive kernel oil

925

32

37,000

39

Fuel properties
ester

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4. Conditions and parameters testedexperimental procedure
The series of tests are conducted using each of the above fuel blends with the
engine working at a speed of 2000 rpm at a static injection timing (advance) of 29
crank angle before TDC and at a medium and high load corresponding to 38% and
75% of full load, respectively. Owing to the differences among the calorific values
and oxygen content of the fuels tested, the comparison must be effected at the
same engine brake mean effective pressure, i.e. load, and not at the same injected
fuel mass or air/fuel ratio.
In each test, volumetric fuel consumption, exhaust smokiness and exhaust
regulated gas emissions, such as nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO) and
total unburned hydrocarbons (HC), are measured. From the first measurement,
specific fuel consumption and brake thermal efficiency are computed using the
sample density and lower calorific value. Table 2 shows the accuracy of the
measurements and the uncertainty of the computed results of the various
parameters.
Table 2.
Accuracy of measurements and uncertainty of computed results
Measurements

Accuracy

Soot density

1 mg/m3

NOx

5 ppm

Measurements

Accuracy

CO

3 ppm

HC

1 ppm

Time

0.5%

Speed

2 rpm

Torque

0.1 N m

Computed results

Uncertainty

Fuel volumetric rate

1%

Power

1%

Specific fuel consumption

1.5%

Efficiency

1.5%

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The experimental work started with a preliminary investigation of the engine
running on neat Diesel fuel in order to determine the engines operating
characteristics and exhaust emission levels, constituting the baseline that is
compared with the corresponding cases when using vegetable oil or bio-diesel
blends. The same procedure was repeated for each fuel blend by keeping the same
operating conditions. For every fuel change, the fuel lines were cleaned and the
engine was left to operate for about 30 min to stabilize at its new condition.
Because of the high flexibility of this versatile standard experimental engine, it
was possible to keep (automatically) constant the sensitive operating parameters of
the engine circuits, such as for example oil and cooling water temperatures, which
can influence mainly the exhaust emission levels, thus increasing the credibility for
comparison of the measured values.
The differences in the measured performance and exhaust emission parameters
from the baseline operation of the engine, i.e. when working with neat Diesel fuel,

were determined and compared. This comparison was extended between the use of
the vegetable oil blends and the bio-diesel blends.
5. Comparison of experimental results and interpretation using theoretical aspects
of blends combustion
5.1. Theoretical aspects of blends combustion in the engine cylinder
Before proceeding to the discussion of the experimental results, it is constructive to
precede with some fundamental aspects of fuel blends combustion in a Diesel
engine, taking also into account, on the one hand, the properties of the fuels and,
on the other hand, the particular operating conditions existing in the engine
cylinder.
Owing to the small blend ratios used (10% and 20% by volume), the injection rate
or the macroscopic behavior of the spray is almost identical for the neat Diesel fuel
and any other blended fuel used in this study, of course for the same engine
operating conditions of injection timing, speed and load (brake mean effective
pressure). The increased values of compressibility of the (liquid) bio-diesel or
vegetable oil compared to the Diesel fuel one [48] and [49], which causes an earlier
injection of fuel into the engine cylinder, is not expected to play an important role,
as this injection advance difference is at maximum 1 CA (crank angle) even for the
neat bio-diesel or neat vegetable oil cases [46] and [50]. The same remark is
expected to hold true for the influence of the cetane number, which is a little higher
for the bio-diesel and lower for the vegetable oil compared to the Diesel fuel (cf.
Table 1); as it is known, this influences the relative duration of premixed combustion
by decreasing (decreased ignition delay) it the higher the cetane number
[46] and [51].
The only marked difference occurs in the atomization process, given that the mean
droplet size (as for example expressed in Sauter mean diameter) is larger when biodiesel is used and much larger when vegetable oil is used as against the Diesel fuel
case [52] and [53]. This is due mainly to the bio-diesels having a higher kinematic
viscosity and the vegetable oils an almost tenfold higher value as against the neat
Diesel fuel, as can be observed from the values stated in Table 1. This fact and the
different distillation curves, i.e. higher distillation curves for bio-diesel and much
higher for vegetable oil as compared to the neat Diesel fuel (correspondingly lower
vapor pressures) [54] and [55], indicate that the evaporation process will be slower
for the bio-diesel and very much slower for the vegetable oil and, thus, could
considerably affect the combustion process, as the case may be [45] and [46].
As explained above, the macroscopic behavior of the spray is almost identical for
the neat Diesel fuel and any other blended fuel used in this study, so that the
amount of instantaneous entrained and mixed air is also the same. Taking into
account that the stoichiometric air/fuel ratio is on the order of 12.5 with either neat
bio-diesel or vegetable oil and the order of 14.5 with neat Diesel fuel [46], this is

translated into the air/bio-diesel or air/vegetable oil mixtures reaching


stoichiometric conditions nearly 15% faster than the air/Diesel fuel mixture.
Therefore, this difference in the air/fuel ratio, caused by the presence of bound
oxygen in the bio-diesel or the vegetable oil, must influence the combustion [46].
More specifically, if the combustion process is mixing controlled, the use of biodiesel or vegetable oil injection has a beneficial effect, while if the combustion
process is evaporation controlled, the effect is adverse [45].
For the specific operating conditions of the engine in hand, having a rather high
compression ratio and a relatively high injection timing (i.e. higher temperatures
and pressures during mixture preparation in the cylinder), the combustion process
for the Diesel fuel and for the bio-diesel blends tends to be mixing controlled, unlike
the vegetable oil blends case that is likely to be rather evaporation controlled.
Some other specific issues, related mainly to the chemical properties of the fuels
involved, may play some role in the observed performance of the engine as
explained in the following.
The much heavier molecule of the vegetable oils, in the order of 800 (as compared
to 270 and 170 for the bio-diesels and the neat Diesel fuel, respectively), can
contribute to the production of higher soot yield with all other conditions remaining
the same [30]. Likewise, the absence of sulfur from the bio-diesel leads to lower
particulate matter (PM) emissions.
The higher cetane numbers of the bio-diesels, as compared to neat Diesel fuel, can
decrease the NOx emissions (relatively lower ignition delay and, thus, shorter
premixed combustion, during which NOx is mainly formed), and to this end, also
contributes the absence of aromatic compounds from the bio-diesels [56]. Given the
above arguments, one expects that the final NOx emissions with vegetable oils,
which have relatively lower cetane numbers, should be the balance of the inhibiting
factor of the absence of aromatics and of the promoting factor of the higher ignition
delay (longer premixed combustion). However, all these may be obscured by the
delicate distribution of the fuelair packets inside the sprays, given that NOx
production is favored by high local temperatures and near to stoichiometry (and
slightly to the lean) local conditions.
The lower calorific values of the bio-diesels or the vegetable oils compared to the
neat Diesel fuel, at first sight, requires higher fuel rates against the respective neat
Diesel fuel case, given that the corresponding comparison must be effected at the
same load, i.e. brake mean effective pressure. All the other conditions remaining
the same in the spray, this should lead to approximately the same average incylinder temperature during the cycle. However, the delicate distribution of the
fuelair packets inside the sprays may be different and, thus, influence the
required fuel per cycle. Furthermore, one cannot exclude the case of the fuel
injection system to have optimum performance with neat Diesel fuel at one

operating load (or speed) condition of the engine and then present optimum
functioning at some other conditions with a fuel blend of low blend ratio such as in
the present case. This performance may be motivated, for example, by the pump
lubrication effect, the pump barrel blow by effect etc., depending upon the fuel
used. Since this behavior is engine, and not fuel, specific, it is safer to effect any
comparison on a (brake) thermal efficiency basis where the effects of the fuel flow
rate and its calorific value are both taken into account.
5.2. Discussion of the experimental results and their interpretation
In all the following figures to be discussed, which present each measured
performance or emission parameter in a bar chart arrangement, the same logic of
organization was adopted. More specifically, an isolated bar on its left hand side
represents the value for the Diesel fuel, a band of bars in the middle represents the
corresponding values for the bio-diesel/Diesel fuel blends of various origins, and a
band of bars on its right hand side represents the corresponding values for the
vegetable oil/Diesel fuel blends, again of various origins. Blend values of 10% and
20% (by volume) for the same bio-diesel or vegetable oil are placed side by side, in
that order. Values for the same parameter at the two different loads considered, viz.
medium and high, are marked as a and b, respectively, next to the numeral
indicating the figure in question.
Fig. 2a and b shows, for the medium and high load, respectively, the smoke (soot)
density expressed in milligrams per cubic meter of exhaust gas for the neat Diesel
fuel, the bio-diesel blends and the vegetable oil blends of various origins, with the
organization of the bar diagram as referred to above. One can observe that the soot
emitted by all the bio-diesel blends of various origins is significantly lower than that
by the corresponding neat Diesel fuel case, with the reduction being higher the
higher the percentage of the bio-diesel in the blend. This is attributed to the
combustion being mixing controlled for these blends, as is also the case for the neat
Diesel fuel, which is, however, now assisted by the presence of the fuel bound
oxygen, even in locally rich zones. On the contrary, the soot emitted by all the
vegetable oil blends of various origins is higher than that by the corresponding
Diesel fuel case, with the increase being higher the higher the percentage of the
vegetable oil in the blend. This is attributed to the combustion being rather
evaporation controlled, so that the potential beneficial advantage of the fuel bound
oxygen comes into effect very late in the cycle and is, thus, of little help, with the
whole situation aggravated further by the heavy fuel molecules.

<img
class="figure large" border="0" alt="Full-size image (120 K)" src="http://originars.els-cdn.com/content/image/1-s2.0-S0196890406000379-gr2.jpg" datathumbEID="1-s2.0-S0196890406000379-gr2.sml" data-imgEIDs="1-s2.0S0196890406000379-gr2.jpg" data-fullEID="1-s2.0-S0196890406000379-gr2.jpg">
Fig. 2.
Emitted soot (smoke) density for the neat Diesel fuel, the bio-diesel blends and the
vegetable oil blends of various origins, for the medium load (a) and the high load
(b).
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Fig. 3a and b shows, for the medium and high load, respectively, the nitrogen oxides
(NOx) exhaust emissions expressed in ppm (parts per million, by volume) for the

neat Diesel fuel, the bio-diesel blends and the vegetable oil blends of various
origins. One can observe that the (NOx) emitted by all the bio-diesel blends of
various origins are slightly lower than that by the corresponding Diesel fuel case,
with the reduction being higher the higher the percentage of the bio-diesel in the
blend. Although the combustion is mixing controlled for these blends, as is also the
case for the neat Diesel fuel, now the higher cetane number (shorter premixed
combustion part) and the absence of aromatics tend to contribute to less NOx
production, which seems to more than offset the possible increase caused by the
presence of the fuel bound oxygen even in locally rich zones (more zones nearer to
stoichiometry). From the same figures, it can be seen that the same behavior is also
exhibited by all the vegetable oil blends of various origins. The combustion is rather
evaporation controlled for these blends, unlike the case for the neat Diesel fuel,
where now the lower cetane number (larger premixed combustion part) and the
absence of aromatics tend to oppose each other concerning NOx production; at the
same time, there is a little offered to the production of it during the shorter mixing
controlled combustion part that possesses fuel bound oxygen even in locally rich
zones (more zones nearer to stoichiometry) that are likely to have (on average)
lower temperatures.

<img
class="figure large" border="0" alt="Full-size image (123 K)" src="http://originars.els-cdn.com/content/image/1-s2.0-S0196890406000379-gr3.jpg" datathumbEID="1-s2.0-S0196890406000379-gr3.sml" data-imgEIDs="1-s2.0S0196890406000379-gr3.jpg" data-fullEID="1-s2.0-S0196890406000379-gr3.jpg">
Fig. 3.
Emitted nitrogen oxides (NOx) for the neat Diesel fuel, the bio-diesel blends and the
vegetable oil blends of various origins, for the medium load (a) and the high load
(b).
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Fig. 4a and b shows, for the medium and high load, respectively, the carbon
monoxide (CO) exhaust emissions expressed in ppm (parts per million, by volume)

for the neat Diesel fuel, the bio-diesel blends and the vegetable oil blends of various
origins. One can observe that the CO emitted by all bio-diesel blends of various
origins is lower than that by the corresponding neat Diesel fuel case, with the
reduction being higher the higher the percentage of the bio-diesel in the blend. On
the contrary, the CO emitted by all the vegetable oil blends of various origins is
higher than that by the corresponding Diesel fuel case, with the increase being
higher the higher the percentage of the vegetable oil in the blend. Conclusively, the
emitted CO follows the same behavior as the emitted soot by the engine, a fact
collectively attributed to the same physical and chemical mechanisms affecting
almost in the same way, at least qualitatively, the net formation of these emissions.
In any case, it should be reminded that the CO emitted levels in Diesel engines
exhaust are small in absolute terms, so that they are of no real concern.

<img
class="figure large" border="0" alt="Full-size image (124 K)" src="http://originars.els-cdn.com/content/image/1-s2.0-S0196890406000379-gr4.jpg" datathumbEID="1-s2.0-S0196890406000379-gr4.sml" data-imgEIDs="1-s2.0S0196890406000379-gr4.jpg" data-fullEID="1-s2.0-S0196890406000379-gr4.jpg">

Fig. 4.
Emitted carbon monoxide (CO) for the neat Diesel fuel, the bio-diesel blends and
the vegetable oil blends of various origins, for the medium load (a) and the high
load (b).
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Fig. 5a and b shows, for the medium and the high load, respectively, the total
unburned hydrocarbons (HC) exhaust emissions expressed in ppm (parts per
million, by volume) for the neat Diesel fuel, the bio-diesel blends and the vegetable
oil blends of various origins. One can observe for the blends of vegetable oils an
increase of the emitted HC against the neat Diesel fuel case, as also reported in
most cases in the literature. Concerning the blends of bio-diesels, a decrease of the
emitted HC against the neat Diesel fuel case is reported in the literature, whereas in
Ref. [37], an increase was reported when the injection timing was high. Actually, in
the present study, where the injection timing is high, an increase is observed for the
medium load case (see Fig. 5a). The situation is changed, however, a little for the
high load case (Fig. 5b) where there is no definite trend (increasing or decreasing)
with the bio-diesel blends of various origins.

<img
class="figure large" border="0" alt="Full-size image (119 K)" src="http://originars.els-cdn.com/content/image/1-s2.0-S0196890406000379-gr5.jpg" datathumbEID="1-s2.0-S0196890406000379-gr5.sml" data-imgEIDs="1-s2.0S0196890406000379-gr5.jpg" data-fullEID="1-s2.0-S0196890406000379-gr5.jpg">
Fig. 5.
Emitted total unburned hydrocarbons (HC) for the neat Diesel fuel, the bio-diesel
blends and the vegetable oil blends of various origins, for the medium load (a) and
the high load (b).
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Moreover, one can observe from the previous Fig. 5a and b, both for the vegetable
oil and bio-diesel blends, that there is no definite trend (increasing or decreasing)

with their percentage increase in the blends depending on origin. In any case, these
differences are rather insignificant while their levels are in absolute terms small, so
that these emissions are not considered important for Diesel engines. As is known,
the formation of unburned hydrocarbons originates from various sources in the
engine cylinder, and their theoretical study is still at its infancy. One should also
take into account that the instruments used for their measurements (e.g. flame
ionization detector (FID)) are optimized to respond to a mean hydrocarbon
representing the mixture of hydrocarbons forming in the normal Diesel fuel and not
to the different (and broader) classes of substances (to which the response is not
known) encountered in the bio-diesels or the vegetable oils [36]. Then, they should
probably be viewed with caution.
Fig. 6a and b shows, for the medium and the high load, respectively, the brake
specific fuel consumption (b.s.f.c.) expressed in g/kW h (grams per kilowatt hour),
for the neat Diesel fuel, the bio-diesel blends and the vegetable oil blends of various
origins. The fuel blend mass flow rate is calculated from the respective measured
volume flow rate value and the blend density, which is computed by considering the
blending ratio and the densities of the fuels involved. Since the comparison is made
at the same load (brake mean effective pressure) and speed, which is translated
into the same engine power, then these values effectively are directly proportional
to the fuel mass flow rate; it is to be noted, however, that the air mass flow rate
remains constant under the same operating conditions.

<img
class="figure large" border="0" alt="Full-size image (117 K)" src="http://originars.els-cdn.com/content/image/1-s2.0-S0196890406000379-gr6.jpg" datathumbEID="1-s2.0-S0196890406000379-gr6.sml" data-imgEIDs="1-s2.0S0196890406000379-gr6.jpg" data-fullEID="1-s2.0-S0196890406000379-gr6.jpg">
Fig. 6.
Brake specific fuel consumption (b.s.f.c.) for the neat Diesel fuel, the bio-diesel
blends and the vegetable oil blends of various origins, for the medium load (a) and
the high load (b).
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It is observed that for the high load case (Fig. 6b), the specific fuel consumption for
all the bio-diesel blends of various origins is a little higher than that for the
corresponding Diesel fuel case, with the increase being higher the higher the

percentage of the bio-diesel in the blend. This also holds true for all the vegetable
oil blends of various origins. As discussed at the end of the previous subsection, this
is the more likely behavior due to the lower calorific values of the bio-diesels or the
vegetable oils compared to that of neat Diesel fuel. On the contrary, this picture
changes a little as far as the medium load case is concerned (Fig. 6a), where one
can observe, in a rather consistent way, a minimum of the specific fuel consumption
at any 10% fuel blend with either the bio-diesel or the vegetable oil of any origin. A
possible explanation of this, as discussed at the end of the previous subsection, is
that the injection system acquires an optimum for this fuel blend ratio at the
conditions corresponding to this medium load.
Lastly, Fig. 7a and b shows, for the medium and the high load, respectively, the
percentage change of the brake thermal efficiency for the bio-diesel blends and the
vegetable oil blends of various origins as compared to the neat Diesel fuel. It is to
be noted that the brake thermal efficiency is simply the inverse of the product of
the specific fuel consumption and the lower calorific value of the fuel. To keep the
analysis simple and in view of the uncertainty in the lower calorific values, a value
of 37,000 kJ/kg was used throughout for the bio-diesels or the vegetable oils of
various origins and of 42,700 for the Diesel fuel. The fuel blend calorific value is
calculated from the respective values of the fuels involved, by taking into account
their blending ratio. Given the above-mentioned close interrelation between brake
thermal efficiency and specific fuel consumption, the results of Fig. 7a and b can be
easily explained.

<img
class="figure large" border="0" alt="Full-size image (107 K)" src="http://originars.els-cdn.com/content/image/1-s2.0-S0196890406000379-gr7.jpg" datathumbEID="1-s2.0-S0196890406000379-gr7.sml" data-imgEIDs="1-s2.0S0196890406000379-gr7.jpg" data-fullEID="1-s2.0-S0196890406000379-gr7.jpg">
Fig. 7.
Percentage change of the brake thermal efficiency for the bio-diesel blends and the
vegetable oil blends of various origins with respect to the neat Diesel fuel case, for
the medium load (a) and the high load (b).
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For the medium load case, Fig. 7a shows an increase of the brake thermal efficiency
for all the bio-diesel blends of various origins against the corresponding Diesel fuel

case, which is though of very small extent. This also holds true for all the vegetable
oil blends of various origins. On the contrary, for the high load case, Fig. 7b shows
that there is no consistent trend of the brake thermal efficiency for any bio-diesel or
vegetable oil blend of various origins and blending ratios against the corresponding
Diesel fuel case. Nonetheless, in any case, these percentage differences have really
a minimal value; then one tends to conclude that there is no change in its value
(bio-fuels against neat Diesel fuel), by taking also into account the small uncertainty
in the measurements of the fuels lower calorific values and consumption rates.
6. Conclusions
An extended experimental study is conducted to evaluate and compare the use of a
high variety of vegetable oils or bio-diesels of various origins as supplements to
conventional Diesel fuel at blend ratios of 10/90 and 20/80 in a direct injection (DI)
Diesel engine located at the authors laboratory.
The series of tests are conducted using each of the above fuel blends with the
engine working at a speed of 2000 rpm and at a medium and high load. In each
test, exhaust smokiness and exhaust regulated gas emissions, such as nitrogen
oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO) and total unburned hydrocarbons (HC), are
measured. Brake specific fuel consumption (b.s.f.c.) and brake thermal efficiency
are computed from the measured fuel volumetric flow rate and calorific values.
The differences in the measured performance and exhaust emission parameters
from the baseline operation of the engine, i.e. when working with neat Diesel fuel,
are determined and compared. This comparison is extended between the use of the
vegetable oil blends and the bio-diesel blends.
The smoke density was significantly reduced with the use of bio-diesel blends of
various origins with respect to that of the neat Diesel fuel, with this reduction being
higher the higher the percentage of bio-diesel in the blend. On the contrary, it was
increased with the use of vegetable oil blends of various origins, with this increase
being higher the higher the percentage of vegetable oil in the blend.
The NOx emissions were slightly reduced with the use of bio-diesel or vegetable oil
blends of various origins with respect to that of the neat Diesel fuel, with this
reduction being higher the higher the percentage of bio-diesel or vegetable oil in
the blend.
The CO emissions were reduced with the use of bio-diesel of various origins with
respect to that of the neat Diesel fuel, with this reduction being higher the higher
the percentage of bio-diesel in the blend. On the contrary, it was increased with the
use of vegetable oil blends of various origins, with this increase being higher the
higher the percentage of vegetable oil in the blend. However, CO emission levels
are already very small.

The unburned hydrocarbons (HC) emissions showed no definite trend, increasing or


decreasing, with either the use of bio-diesel or vegetable oil blends of various
origins or their percentage increase in the blends. However, these differences are
insignificant, while their absolute levels are already very small.
The engine performance with the bio-diesel and the vegetable oil blends of various
origins was similar to that of the neat Diesel fuel with nearly the same brake
thermal efficiency, showing higher specific fuel consumption for the high load and a
minimum of it at the 10/90 blends for the medium load.
Theoretical aspects of Diesel engine combustion combined with the widely differing
physical and chemical properties of the bio-diesels and vegetable oils, against
normal Diesel fuel are used to aid the correct interpretation of the observed engine
behavior.
A general practical conclusion is that, with the exception of the slight concern for
the little increase of emitted smoke with the vegetable oil blends, all the tested biodiesel or vegetable oil blends, irrespective of the raw feedstock material used for
their production, can be used safely and advantageously in the Diesel engine, at
least in small blending ratios with normal Diesel fuel.