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Fuels for Internal Combustion Engines


Heat required in I.C.E. is generally produced by chemical reaction of fuel and air inside the engine cylinder. The reaction time is of the order of hundreds to thousands of a second

In engines where the fuel air mixture is formed outside the cylinder ( carburetor engines ) the fuel must evaporate easily at atmospheric temperature and form an inflammable mixture with incoming air.

In engines where the fuel is directly injected into the cylinder (diesel engines ), the atomized fuel must evaporate quickly and must be well mixed with air so that he combustion process may be completed within reasonable time.

The reaction characteristics of the fuel should be such that the rate of pressure and temperature rise inside the cylinder due to combustion should be moderate; this decreases the possibility of large mechanical and thermal stresses

The fuel at the completion of combustion should not leave appreciable carbon, coke, sulfur or gum deposits which may cause excessive wear and corrosion on cylinder and piston rings. The composition of the fuel should not lead to the evolution of harmful combustion products.

Influence of Fuel on Engine Performance

1. Output:

The output break h.p. Nbr of an ICE is expressed as follows

N br

F 427 V a Qc th ( ) (1 F ) 4500

N br V a

F 427 Qc th ( ) (1 F ) 4500

V = volume of mixture consumed in minute at inlet density a =inlet density of mixture or air in kg/m3 F = fuel air ratio by weight Qc = heat of combustion of fuel in kcal/kg (lower value) th = thermal efficiency of the engine

Qv a

F Qc (1 F )

Qv is a fuel characteristic and affects the engine output so does the thermal efficiency. The inlet temperature of mixture which also vary with fuel characteristics affects the engine output

2. Thermal efficiency
Due to combustion of a certain fuel the change of number of moles nm =nmproducts -nmmixture affects the pressure of the products as follows:

p products

T products nm products pmixture Tmixture nmmixture

p products p mixture

T products Tmixture

nm products nmmixture

Hence an increase in the number of moles increases the pressures of the product for the same value of TP which is dependent on Qc . Therefore, for fuels where there is an increase in the number of moles due to combustion the thermal efficiency will be higher than for fuels where there is no such increase.

3. Inlet temperature
If the prevailing atmospheric temperature is higher than that necessary for efficient evaporation and distribution of fuel, inlet temperature of the mixture in carburetor engines will be reduced due to the evaporation of fuel. Fuels with higher evaporation heat needs will reduce the inlet temperature to a greater extent. Using such fuels will increase the engine output due to the increase in inlet density.

4. Specific Fuel consumption

S .F .C.

thermal Qc

in case of petroleum fuels the heat of combustion does not vary very much. Therefore SFC mainly depends on the thermal efficiency. For alcohols or benzols whose heat of combustion is much lower than those of Petroleum fuels the SFC will be much higher compared to petroleum fuels for the same power output and thermal efficiency

Properties of Internal Combustion Engine Fuels

1. Volatility

For engines with carburetor the liquid fuel must be volatile enough to produce a combustible fuel vapor air mixture at intake temperature and to produce complete fuel vapor air mixture inside the cylinder before combustion. In case of diesel fuels the evaporation rate at the average gas temperature should be sufficiently high.

2. Anti-knock value and ignitability . .

2.1 . Spark ignition engine fuel


In SIE fuel air mixture is taken inside the cylinder where after compression, combustion is initiated in this mixture. Thus the fuel must resist abnormal burning or detonation

Abnormal burning or detonation can cause:

*too rapid rate of energy release *excessive temperature and pressure inside the cylinder *decreases the efficiency of conversion of heat into useful work **this will adversely affect the efficient and smooth operation of the engine

The fuels used for petrol engines must offer sufficient resistance to detonation, i.e. it must have a suitable antiknock property. The antiknock property is expressed by the Octane number

2.2. Compression ignition engine fuel

In case of diesel engine the fuel is injected into compressed air with increased temperature. There is a time interval between the moment the fuel is injected to the moment it is ignited. This interval is known as the ignition lag or ignition delay

A long period of ignition lag will result in a high rate of pressure rise in the cylinder and this will result in rough running of the engine. Ignition lag depends on the operating conditions as well as on the physical and chemical properties of the fuel

The ignition characteristics of the fuel which is mainly dependent on ignition delay are estimated by the Cetane number

3. Heat of Combustion
. .

The quality of a fuel in general is determined by the amount of heat evolved upon complete combustion

4. Chemical Composition and Molecular Structure of Fuels

5. Anti-knock Rating of Fuel

5.1. Fuel for Spark Ignition Engines

resistance to detonation is an extremely important characteristic of the S.I. fuel. In addition to the effect of the chemical characteristic of the hydrocarbon, other factors such as fuel-air ratio, ignition timing, dilution, effectiveness of jacket cooling, atmospheric conditions, compression ratio, etc. , affect the tendency of the fuel to detonate in engine cylinder.

Hence a scale of detonation intensity is necessary and a particular intensity denoted by a point on the scale must be selected for comparison of fuels being rated.

The anti-knock value of a fuel is determined by comparing its antiknock property with a mixture of two reference fuels. The iso-octane (C8H18) is observed to have very high resistance to detonation. On the other hand normal heptane (C7H16)was found to have extremely poor resistance to detonation.

A suitable scale known as the Octane number scale was evolved for specifying the knock resistance property of fuels.

Iso-octane was given an octane number of 100, and normal heptane was rated at 0 octane number. The octane number of a fuel is defined as the percentage by volume of iso-octane in a mixture of iso-octane and normal heptane, which will match the detonation intensity of the fuel.

Knock Inhibitors
Chemical compounds like tetra-ethyl lead Pb(C2H5)4 , iron carbonyl, and nickel carbonyl appreciably increases the knock resistance of spark ignition engine fuel when a small quantity is added to the fuel (0.5 ml to 1.5 ml per liter of gasoline)

A few milliliters of tetra-ethyl lead Pb(C2H5)4 added per liter of gasoline increase the octane number. The tetra-ethyl lead Pb(C2H5)4 is widely used but it also produces cylinder deposits and poisonous emissions. Therefore the amount of compound added is restricted

5.2 Fuels for compression ignition engines


In the case of diesel fuels the knock resistance depends on chemical characteristics as well as on operating conditions and engine design

Cetane number scale is used for knock rating. The reference fuels are normal cetane C16H34 whose cetane number is 100 and alpha methyl napthelene C11H10 whose cetane number is 0

Cetane number of a fuel is the percentage by volume of normal cetane in a mixture of normal cetane and alpha methyl napthelene, which has the same ignition characteristics (ignition delay) as the test fuel when comparison is carried out.

Knock Inhibitors
Knock resistance property of diesel fuel can be improved by using small quantities of compounds like amyl nitrite, ethyl nitrate, ethyl nitrite or ether. These compounds are generally introduced in small amounts with the intake air. They ignite early in the compression stroke and thereby increase the temperature of compressed air at the time when fuel injection starts. The ignition delay of the fuel is thereby reduced

Chemical Reactions in Fuel Combustion

Analysis of Products of Combustion