Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


U of I research seeks to improve sensors that monitor diesel fuel quality

Sensors currently used to monitor the quality of diesel fuel and biodiesel blended fuels during engine operation are unable to adequately detect certain important fuel quality concerns.

Alan Hansen, professor of agricultural and biological engineering at the University of Illinois, and his colleagues are working to develop new technologies to improve these commercially-available sensors.

"Our research is contributing to the development of a sensor that, when placed in the fuel line prior to where the fuel enters a diesel engine, can detect if there are any contaminants in or other problems with the fuel," Hansen said. "Also, if biodiesel is used, the sensor would determine the quality and quantity of biodiesel entering the engine."

Biodiesel, a renewable fuel derived from natural oils like soybean oil, is typically blended at 2 to 5 percent with regular diesel fuel.

"In some cases, engine manufacturers will support warranties on engines using higher percentages of biodiesel—up to 20 percent. However, they are reluctant to support engines running too much biodiesel because there is some concern that it would affect the engine in a negative way," Hansen said.

Hansen is investigating the use of electrochemical sensors to detect contaminants and other quality issues that today's sensors are missing. By using electrochemical processes, the sensors are expected to be significantly more sensitive to the chemical composition of diesel fuel.

"Electrochemical sensors can be designed to detect specific chemicals, such as sulfur or sulfur-based compounds," he said. "One could then create a system to warn the operator or shut down the engine when the fuel has high sulfur content."

Sulfur is an important contaminant to monitor in diesel fuel, as it can contribute to the release of harmful exhaust emissions. Sulfur damages the catalysts in filters that are part of the engine's after-treatment system. Such filters are needed to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) strict regulations on emissions levels.

"To stay within the EPA's emissions limits, it is no longer possible to simply optimize the combustion process. We now have to capture some of the emissions after the engine, using filters or other methods," Hansen said.

Hansen also noted that when sulfur is involved in the combustion process, it creates sulfuric acid, which is a very corrosive by-product that can damage the engine.

"We've run tests to evaluate how well current sensors work with a range of different fuels, including biodiesel blends. The tests have shown us the limitations of the sensors," Hansen said. "If we can improve these sensors to successfully detect sulfur and monitor other diesel fuel quality concerns, it will be an important breakthrough."

LeAnn Ormsby | EurekAlert!
Further information:

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

TIB’s Visual Analytics Research Group to develop methods for person detection and visualisation

19.03.2018 | Information Technology

Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

19.03.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>