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SAE TECHNICAL
PAPER SERIES 2006-01-0893

Effect of Biodiesel Fuel Properties and


Its Blends on Atomization
M. A. Ahmed, C. E. Ejim, B. A. Fleck and A. Amirfazli
University of Alberta

Reprinted From: Diesel Fuel Injection and Sprays 2006


(SP-2010)

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2006-01-0893

Effect of Biodiesel Fuel Properties and Its Blends


on Atomization
M. A. Ahmed, C. E. Ejim, B. A. Fleck and A. Amirfazli*
University of Alberta

Copyright © 2006 SAE International

ABSTRACT droplets from the liquid fuel jet and can also lead to
changes in atomization characteristics.
Biodiesels are promising alternatives to diesel fuel since
they are biodegradable, non-toxic and reduce air Pure biodiesels are comprised of a number of fatty acid
pollution. This study presents analytical comparisons of esters. Allen et al. [3, 4] presented models to predict
atomization characteristics of 3 types of biodiesels and 6 viscosity and surface tension of pure biodiesel fuels from
blends with Diesel No. 2. Results showed that the their constituent fatty acid ester composition. Their
smallest and largest drop sizes were associated with viscosity model was a modified form of the Grunberg-
coconut and peanut biodiesel blends, respectively. Nissan [5] equation, and predicted viscosities were
Using unblended biodiesels increases drop size by 40%, within r 3.0 % of the measured viscosity of the pure
which indicates either custom nozzles should be used in biodiesels tested. The predicted surface tensions were
such applications or blending is required to reduce within r 3.3 % of measured pure biodiesel surface
surface tension and viscosity to enhance atomization. tension values. Furthermore, their results indicated that
Knowledge of atomization of pure biodiesel and its the viscosity and surface tension of biodiesels could be
blends as alternative fuels in diesel engines can lead to up to 220% and 22% higher than that of Diesel No. 2. To
better design of diesel engine injectors to meet reduce the viscosity or surface tension a blend of pure
regulatory emission guidelines and engine performance. biodiesels with Diesel No. 2 can be used. Tat and Van
Gerpen [6] presented a blending equation to predict the
INTRODUCTION kinematic viscosity of soybean oil blends with Diesel
No. 2 by fitting their experimental data to a form of the
The search for sustainable and renewable source of fuel Grunberg-Nissan [5] equation. Their blending viscosity
to replace currently depleting fossil fuels and oil reserves equation predicted values within r 4% of the measured
has been a major form of research in recent years. values. However, models for predicting surface tension
Biodiesels are capable sources of alternative fuels of blends of biodiesel and Diesel No. 2 are rare in
produced from renewable agricultural resources like literature. Since viscosity and surface tension are
soybean, canola, and animal fats in a process known as important atomization characteristics in diesel engines, it
transesterification. In this process, the triglyceride is imperative to estimate these quantities for biodiesel-
(vegetable oil or animal fat) reacts with an alcohol Diesel No. 2 blends in order to compare their
(methanol) in the presence of a catalyst to yield glycerol atomization characteristics for diesel engine analysis.
and a mono-ester (i.e. biodiesel). The advantages of
using biodiesels as alternative fuels in automobiles To compare atomization characteristics of biodiesel
include reduction in exhaust emissions and black blends in diesel engines requires performing
smoke, and significant reduction or elimination of experimental tests or using drop size correlations
sulphur dioxide emissions. available in literature, which are applicable to diesel
injectors. The relevant drop size in atomization studies is
Msipa et al. [1] have stated that the two important the Sauter mean diameter (SMD) and is defined as the
properties of biodiesels directly related to their diameter of the drop whose ratio of volume-to-surface
atomization in a Direct Injection diesel engine are area is equal to that of the spray [2]. There are many
viscosity and surface tension. Lefebvre [2] indicates that SMD correlations, in literature however, some of the
for a given injector in a diesel engine, use of fuel with methods utilized in measuring the mean drop sizes for
higher viscosity hinders atomization by suppressing the these correlations are no longer considered valid [2].
instabilities required for the fuel jet to disintegrate. An Therefore, only the most recent and valid correlations
increase in fuel surface tension resists the formation of will be mentioned. Hiroyasu and Kadota [7] presented a
SMD correlation as a function of air density in the

*Corresponding author: a.amirfazli@ualberta.ca


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combustion chamber, volume of diesel per piston stroke diesel, Tat and Van Gerpen [6], found that Eqn (1) fitted
and liquid fuel injection pressure differential. Elkotb [8] their experimental data with accuracy of r 4.0% of the
used dimensional analysis to obtain a SMD correlation measured blended viscosities. Since Eqn. (1) gave
as a function of fuel kinematic viscosity, surface tension, reasonable viscosity for the soybean biodiesel blends,
density, density of gas in the combustion chamber and we assume its application may also be extended to other
liquid fuel injection pressure differential. The SMD potential biodiesel fuel blends with reasonable accuracy.
correlation presented by Elkotb [8] is more relevant to
this study, since it includes the variation of SMD with fuel SURFACE TENSION PREDICTION MODEL
density, viscosity and surface tension. Furthermore, the
correlation is simple, and serves as a tool for SMD Models for surface tension of biodiesel-diesel blends are
comparisons from the biodiesel fuel sprays. not widely reported in literature, therefore to estimate the
surface tension of biodiesel blends we apply a similar
The main objective of this study is to perform an technique used by Allen et al. [4] that was employed for
analytical comparison of atomization characteristics of 3 pure biodiesels based on their fatty acid composition.
pure biodiesel and 6 biodiesel-Diesel No. 2 blends with The rationale is that a biodiesel blend constitutes a
respect to that of Diesel No. 2. Comparisons will be mixture just as a pure biodiesel constitutes a mixture of
made for a given diesel injector and operation condition similar short-chain hydrocarbons.
using the droplet size correlation for sprays in diesel
engines presented by Elkotb [8]. To achieve appropriate To predict the surface tension of a mixture, Allen et al.
comparison of atomization characteristics at constant [4] stated that a relatively straightforward method is to
temperature will first require extending the prediction use a Dalton type Mass-Average (DMA) equation
model of Tat and Van Gerpen [6] to other biodiesel presented below:
blends besides soybean. For predicting the surface
tension of biodiesel-Diesel No.2 blends, since prediction n
models of surface tension of biodiesel blends are rare in
literature, we use a similar method presented by Allen et
Jm ¦yJ
i 1
i i (2)
al. [4] for a pure biodiesel. This analytical comparison is
important, since it presents properties of biodiesel In Eqn. (2), Jm is the mean surface tension of the mixture
blends that are most desirable as a choice for alternative (N/m); Ji is the surface tension of the ith
fuels in a diesel engine. Furthermore, it serves as a component (N/m), and yi is the mass fraction of the ith
guide and first step in future related experimental tests. component. However, Allen et al. [4] determined that a
more accurate method (within r 3.3%) of estimating
MODELING METHODS surface tension is based on a Weighted Mass-Average
(WMA) equation. This is because the surface tension of
VISCOSITY PREDICTION MODEL a liquid mixture is not a simple function of the surface
tension of the pure components, since the mixture
Biodiesels can be blended with Diesel No. 2 in different surface composition is not necessarily the same as the
mass or volume proportions. The B number bulk mixture. As such, it is required to include a
nomenclature is a common method of denoting weighted factor for each component as a function of its
proportions of constituents in a blended mixture. For surface tension. Equation (3) presents the expression for
example, B5 biodiesel is a blend of 5% biodiesel fuel (by the biodiesel surface tension.
mass) and 95% petroleum diesel (by mass). To predict
the viscosity of pure biodiesels and its blends, Allen et n
al. [3] and Tat and Van Gerpen [6], respectively used a
modified Grunberg-Nissan [5] mixture viscosity equation
Jm ¦w y J
i 1
i i i (3)
(developed originally for binary mixtures of non-
associated liquids) of the form: In Eqn. (3), wi is the weight factor for component i, and is
determined experimentally using the following linear
n
curve-fit:
ln [ X ] m ¦y
i 1
i ln[ X ]i (1)
wi mJ i  c (4)
In Eqn. 1, [X] denotes either absolute viscosity (mPa-
s) or kinematic viscosity (mm2/s), y denotes mass In Eqn. (4), m is the slope of the surface tension linear-
fraction of a component in the mixture, and subscripts m weight function line, c is the constant of the surface
and i denote mixture and component properties, tension linear-weight function line.
respectively. Allen et al. [3] used Eqn. (1) to predict the
absolute viscosity of pure biodiesels based on their fatty It was mentioned above that the Weighted Mass-
acid ester composition. Their results were within r 3.0% Average (WMA) method (Eqns. (3) and (4)) gives more
of the measured values for pure biodiesels. For accurate surface tension values compared to the Dalton-
kinematic viscosity of soybean blends with petroleum type Mass-Average (DMA) technique. However, to
2
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determine the weight factor, wi, the WMA requires use of the density of pure biodiesel and Diesel No. 2,
test data. Since this study involves analytical respectively.
comparisons, the DMA may be a worthwhile alternative.
Allen et al. [4] compared surface tensions of simulated Note that the density values of the pure biodiesels used
biodiesels and found that the WMA technique had an in this analysis are within 2% of the density range
accuracy of r 4.3% and the DMA method under- specified by Elkotb [8]. It is assumed that the difference
predicted the measured surface tensions by up to 5.9%. in SMD will be insignificant, for the above percentage
However, since the accuracy in predicting surface difference. Reasonable adherence to conditions
tension of pure biodiesels is r 3.0% [4], it implies the developed for Eqn. (5) is important because there are no
DMA method has reasonable amount of accuracy. satisfactory general expressions for drop size produced
Therefore, for lack of experimental data, surface by diesel injectors due to sensitivity to nozzle design [9].
tensions of blended biodiesels will be predicted using A Bosch pintle type nozzle (DNO SD 211) was used in
the DMA technique (Eqn. 2). [8]. The DN-S pintle type is a similar nozzle currently
manufactured by Bosch Automotive Systems
ATOMIZATION MODEL Corporation. Furthermore, current injector pressure
differentials can be significantly higher than the value
Atomization is the breakup or disintegration of a liquid jet (200 bar) used in this study. According to Smallwood
or sheet into small droplets by means of an atomizer. and Gulder [10], current injection pressures can be up to
Atomization parameters that determine the magnitude of 2000 bar resulting in further reduction of SMD.
the SMD include physical properties of the liquid fuel Equation (5) captures this inverse relationship of SMD
(such as density, UL, surface tension, J and kinematic with injection pressure differential. This implies for a
viscosity, QL), density of ambient gas, UG, in the 2000 bar injection pressure differential the SMD for a
combustion chamber, injector geometry (such as hole Diesel No. 2 spray (all other parameters being the same)
length, LN and exit diameter, DN). Furthermore, an will be smaller than the value estimated in this study.
important factor is the liquid fuel injection pressure
differential, 'PL (i.e. pressure difference between the At current high injection pressures of up to 2000 bar, the
injection and gas pressure in the combustion chamber). surface tension and viscosity of the fuels also affect their
Hence in a diesel engine using biodiesel or biodiesel atomization characteristics. Lefebvre [2] has established
blends as fuel, for a given diesel injector and operating that for a given injector in a diesel engine, the
condition, the SMD depends mainly on the density, hindrance/resistance to fuel atomization increases with
surface tension and viscosity of the biodiesel or higher values of viscosity and surface tension. Although
biodiesel blend. The droplet size correlation by Elkotb [8] the measured SMDs for current injection pressures may
is the only correlation that the authors have found vary from the analytical results (at such high pressures)
relevant to this study, since it includes the relationship obtained in this study, the trend in SMD variation will be
between injection pressure differential, gas density, similar. Hence the results in this study provide a general
SMD, fuel density, viscosity, and surface tension. The view of how use of a biodiesel or its blend (compared to
correlation is presented in Eqn. (5) for drop size Diesel No. 2 fuel) will affect the performance of a given
measurements obtained within 0.5 ms from the diesel injector. This information can be used to design
beginning of fuel injection: injectors for comparable performance when a biodiesel
or its blend is used. This is important since more and
0.385J 0.737U 0.737U 0.06'P-0.54 more biodiesel fuels are becoming available nationwide.
SMD 6156Q L L A L
(5)
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
In Eq. (5), SMD is in Pm. The parameters XL, J, 'PL have
units of m2/s, N/m and bar, respectively, whereas UL and To compare the estimated SMDs produced by fuels from
UA (ambient air density), have units of kg/m3. The density biodiesels and biodiesel blends with those from
of biodiesel blends (denoted UL) to be substituted in Eqn Diesel No. 2, it is assumed that a similar diesel injector
(5) can be obtained from mixing theory. For a as in Elkotb [8] is used but is discharging into a chamber
homogeneous mixture of pure biodiesel (bd) and Diesel with compressed air density of 8.2 kg/m3 at 40qC, and
No. 2 (d2,) it can be shown from the first principle mixing liquid fuel injection pressure differential of 200 bar. At
theory that: 40qC, the properties of Diesel No. 2 are:XL = 2.5 x 10-6
m2/s [11], J = 24 mN/m [12] and UL = 851.9 kg/m3 [13].
r  1 U d 2 Substituting these values into Eqn. (5) gives an
UL (6) estimated SMD of 25.7 Pm. This mean drop size will be
§ § Ud2 · ·
¨ r¨ ¸  1¸ the baseline for comparison of atomization
¨ ¨U ¸ ¸
© © bd ¹ ¹ characteristics of the biodiesels and biodiesel blends.

In Eqn. (6), r denotes mass ratio of pure biodiesel to Table 1 presents physical properties of Diesel No. 2 and
Diesel No. 2 in the mixture, whereas Ubd and Ud2 denote three biodiesels at 40qC. Note that for the pure
biodiesels the absolute viscosities were as obtained by

3
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Allen et al. [3] using Eqn. (1), surface tensions were again yields the smallest estimated mean drop size of
obtained from Allen et al. [4] using Eqns. (3) and (4), the about 26.2 Pm, and the B20 peanut biodiesel has the
corresponding kinematic viscosities were obtained from largest SMD of 27.6 Pm.
Krisnangkura et al. [14], and densities were estimated by
dividing the absolute viscosities by the corresponding Table 2 – Properties of three B20 biodiesel-Diesel No. 2
kinematic viscosities. blends and Diesel No. 2 (D2) at 40qC showing estimated
SMD and increase in mean drop size compared to that
The coconut and peanut biodiesels have the smallest of D2 (adapted from Ahmed [15]).
(28.1 Pm) and largest (36.4 Pm) estimated SMD,
respectively. The coconut biodiesel yielded the smallest PL UL XL J SMD
SMD because it had the lowest density, viscosity and Fuel type
surface tension, as presented in Table 1. Allen and mPa-s kg/m3 mm2/s mN/m Pm
Watts [16] obtained similar trends for coconut biodiesel
using their droplet size regression model based on Peanut/D2 2.37 853.7 2.78 24.94 27.6
experimental data. From Table 1, it conversely implies
that a biodiesel with the highest density, viscosity and
Canola/D2 2.36 852.2 2.77 24.96 27.6
surface tension will produce the largest SMD. Therefore,
the estimated SMD depends on the varying magnitudes
of these physical properties. Hence one of the main Coconut/D2 2.15 843.8 2.55 24.56 26.2
objectives in using a biodiesel as a fuel substitute in a
diesel engine is to choose one with relatively low Diesel
magnitudes of density, viscosity and surface tension in 2.13 851.9 2.50 24.00 25.7
accordance with regulatory standards. No. 2

Table 1 – Properties of three biodiesel fuels and Diesel


No. 2 at 40qC showing estimated SMD and increase in
mean drop size compared to Diesel No. 2 (adapted from Table 3 presents the corresponding physical properties
Ahmed [15]). of three B5 biodiesel blends with Diesel No. 2 at 40qC.
The data was obtained using a similar technique as in
PL UL XL J SMD Table 2. The B5 coconut and peanut blends produce the
Fuel type smallest and largest mean drop sizes of 25.9 and
mPa-s kg/m3 mm2/s mN/m Pm 26.2 Pm, respectively. Hence smaller estimated mean
drop size is achieved with further reduction in density,
Peanut 3.69 861.1 4.29 28.70 36.4 viscosity and surface tension due to a reduction in mass
ratio of biodiesel in the blending mixture.
Canola 3.61 853.6 4.23 28.79 36.1
Table 3 – Properties of three B5 biodiesel blends with
diesel No. 2 and Diesel No. 2 (D2) at 40qC showing
Coconut 2.25 813.1 2.77 26.82 28.1
estimated SMD and increase in mean drop size
compared to that of D2 (adapted from Ahmed [15]).
Diesel
2.13 851.9 2.50 24.00 25.7
No. 2
PL UL XL J SMD
Fuel type
mPa-s kg/m3 mm2/s mN/m Pm

Peanut/D2 2.18 852.4 2.56 24.24 26.2


Table 2 presents physical properties of Diesel No. 2 and
three B20 biodiesel blends with Diesel No. 2 at 40qC.
Canola/D2 2.18 852.0 2.56 24.24 26.2
Note that for the blends, the kinematic viscosities,
surface tensions and densities were estimated using
corresponding data in Table 1 as inputs to Eqns. (1), (2) Coconut/D2 2.13 849.9 2.51 24.14 25.9
and (6), respectively. The absolute viscosities were
obtained by multiplying the densities and corresponding Diesel
kinematic viscosities. 2.13 851.9 2.50 24.00 25.7
No. 2
As a result of the blending process, the densities,
viscosities and surface tensions of the B20 biodiesel
blends are lower than their respective pure biodiesels in
Table 1. The consequence is the SMDs from the B20 A summary of the SMD comparison above in terms of
blends are smaller than those from the corresponding increase in drop size compared to that of Diesel No. 2. is
pure biodiesels. From Table 2, the B20 coconut blend presented in Figure 1. It shows that the SMD from the
4
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pure coconut biodiesel fuel is only 9% higher than that of condition of a diesel injector, the coconut and peanut
Diesel No. 2. Using the B5 coconut blend reduces the biodiesels and their respective blends yielded the
SMD to only 0.4% higher than that of Diesel No. 2. This smallest and largest mean drop sizes, respectively. The
is advantageous, since smaller droplet size in a diesel coconut biodiesel yielded the smallest mean drop size,
engine enhances mixing and complete combustion of about 0.4 - 9% higher than estimated for Diesel No. 2,
the fuel. Note also from Figure 1 that there is about a because it had the lowest density, viscosity and surface
40% reduction in using the B5 blends of peanut and tension. As such, the coconut biodiesel offers the
canola biodiesels compared to their B100 grades. For advantage that higher blend ratios between B20 and
both biodiesel fuels, the estimated drop size in using the B100 have relatively similar atomization characteristics
B5 blends is within 2% of Diesel No. 2. Hence, from an as Diesel No. 2. The B5 biodiesel blends in general had
atomization perspective, the B5 blends are potential the smallest droplet size compared to other blend ratios.
alternatives to replace Diesel No. 2, since they have The percent reduction in drop size in using the B5 blend
atomization characteristics nearly similar to the latter compared to other blends was up to 40% for the peanut
fuel. and canola biodiesel fuels. The B5 biodiesel blends
have nearly similar atomization characteristics as Diesel
No. 2 and have the potential of replacing the latter fuel,
50
from an atomization stand point, in diesel engines.
B100 (pure biodiesel)
% SMD increase from Diesel No. 2

40 B20 blend ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


B5 blend
30 The authors acknowledge Auto 21 Centres of Networks
of Excellence for financial support in this study.
20
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