Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Gasoline-diesel 'cocktail': A potent recipe for cleaner, more efficient engines

04.08.2009
Diesel and gasoline fuel sources both bring unique assets and liabilities to powering internal combustion engines. But what if an engine could be programmed to harvest the best properties of both fuel sources at once, on the fly, by blending the fuels within the combustion chamber?

The answer, based on tests by the University of Wisconsin-Madison engine research group headed by Rolf Reitz, would be a diesel engine that produces significantly lower pollutant emissions than conventional engines, with an average of 20 percent greater fuel efficiency as well.

These dramatic results came from a novel technique Reitz describes as "fast-response fuel blending," in which an engine's fuel injection is programmed to produce the optimal gasoline-diesel mix based on real-time operating conditions.

Under heavy-load operating conditions for a diesel truck, the fuel mix in Reitz' fueling strategy might be as high as 85 percent gasoline to 15 percent diesel; under lighter loads, the percentage of diesel would increase to a roughly 50-50 mix. Normally this type of blend wouldn't ignite in a diesel engine, because gasoline is less reactive than diesel and burns less easily. But in Reitz' strategy, just the right amount of diesel fuel injections provide the kick-start for ignition.

"You can think of the diesel spray as a collection of liquid spark plugs, essentially, that ignite the gasoline," says Reitz, the Wisconsin Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering. "The new strategy changes the fuel properties by blending the two fuels within the combustion chamber to precisely control the combustion process, based on when and how much diesel fuel is injected."

Reitz will present his findings today (Aug. 3) at the 15th U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Diesel Engine-Efficiency and Emissions Research Conference in Detroit. Reitz estimates that if all cars and trucks were to achieve the efficiency levels demonstrated in the project, it could lead to a reduction in transportation-based U.S. oil consumption by one-third.

"That's roughly the amount that we import from the Persian Gulf," says Reitz.

Two remarkable things happen in the gasoline-diesel mix, Reitz says. First, the engine operates at much lower combustion temperatures because of the improved control — as much as 40 percent lower than conventional engines — which leads to far less energy loss from the engine through heat transfer. Second, the customized fuel preparation controls the chemistry for optimal combustion. That translates into less unburned fuel energy lost in the exhaust, and also fewer pollutant emissions being produced by the combustion process. In addition, the system can use relatively inexpensive low-pressure fuel injection (commonly used in gasoline engines), instead of the high-pressure injection required by conventional diesel engines.

Development of the blending strategy was guided by advanced computer simulation models. These computer predictions were then put to the test using a Caterpillar heavy-duty diesel engine at the UW-Madison Engine Research Center. The results were "really exciting," says Reitz, confirming the predicted benefits of blended fuel combustion. The best results achieved 53 percent thermal efficiency in the experimental test engine. This efficiency exceeds even the most efficient diesel engine currently in the world — a massive turbocharged two-stroke used in the maritime shipping industry, which has 50 percent thermal efficiency.

"For a small engine to even approach these massive engine efficiencies is remarkable," Reitz says. "Even more striking, the blending strategy could also be applied to automotive gasoline engines, which usually average a much lower 25 percent thermal efficiency. Here, the potential for fuel economy improvement would even be larger than in diesel truck engines."

Thermal efficiency is defined by the percentage of fuel that is actually devoted to powering the engine, rather than being lost in heat transfer, exhaust or other variables.

"What's more important than fuel efficiency, especially for the trucking industry, is that we are meeting the EPA's 2010 emissions regulations quite easily," Reitz says.

That is a major commercial concern as the bar set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is quite high, with regulations designed to cut about 90 percent of all particulate matter (soot) and 80 percent of all nitrogen oxides (NOx) out of diesel emissions.

Some companies have pulled from the truck engine market altogether in the face of the stringent new standards. Many other companies are looking to alternatives such as selective catalytic reduction, in which the chemical urea (a second "fuel") is injected into the exhaust stream to reduce NOx emissions. Others propose using large amounts of recirculated exhaust gas to lower the combustion temperature to reduce NOx. In this case, ultra-high high-pressure fuel injection is needed to reduce soot formation in the combustion chamber.

Those processes are expensive and logistically complicated, Reitz says. Both primarily address cleaning up emissions, not fuel efficiency. The new in-cylinder fuel blending strategy is less expensive and less complex, uses widely available fuels and addresses both emissions and fuel efficiency at the same time.

Reitz says there is ample reason to believe the fuel-blending technology would work just as well in cars because dual dual-fuel combustion works with lower-pressure and less expensive fuel injectors than those used in diesel trucks. Applying this technology to vehicles would require separate tanks for both diesel and gasoline fuel — but so would urea, which is carried in a separate tank. The big-picture implications for reduced oil consumption are even more compelling, Reitz says. The United States consumes about 21 million barrels of oil per day, about 65 percent (13.5 million barrels) of which is used in transportation. If this new blended fuel process could convert both diesel and gasoline engines to 53 percent thermal efficiency from current levels, the nation could reduce oil consumption by 4 million barrels per day, or one-third of all oil destined for transportation.

Computer modeling and simulation provided the blueprint for optimizing fuel blending, a process that would have taken years through trial-and-error testing. Reitz used a modeling technique developed in his lab called genetic algorithms, which borrow some of the same techniques of natural selection in the biological world to determine the "fittest" variables for engine performance.

The work is funded by DOE and the UW-Madison College of Engineering Diesel Emissions Reduction Consortium, which includes 24 industry partners.

— Brian Mattmiller, 608-890-3004, bsmattmi@engr.wisc.edu

Rolf Reitz | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wisc.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Molecular libraries for organic light-emitting diodes

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Research sheds new light on forces that threaten sensitive coastlines

24.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

24.04.2017 | Machine Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>