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!
Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake
12.12.2017 | Duke University
Two holograms in one surface
12.12.2017 | California Institute of Technology
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
14.12.2017 | Health and Medicine
14.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
14.12.2017 | Life Sciences