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Diffusive Combustion of Ethanol in a Dual-Fuel Direct Injection Compression Ignition Engine

Time: Fri 2021-06-11 10.00

Location:, Stockholm (English)

Subject area: Machine Design

Doctoral student: Nicola Giramondi , Förbränningsmotorteknik

Opponent: Dr. Jan Erik Eismark, Volvo GTT

Supervisor: Prof. Anders Christiansen Erlandsson, Förbränningsmotorteknik; Prof. Mihai Mihaescu, Competence Center for Gas Exchange (CCGEx), Linné Flow Center, FLOW; Dr. Anders Jäger, Scania CV

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The impact of climate change due to global warming necessitates rapid and extensive measures to enhance the sustainability of the energy and transport sectors. In this context, there are large environmental and societal benefits to be gained by replacing diesel with renewable fuels for road freight transport. This solution may facilitate and expedite the transition towards fossil-free, carbon-neutral transport, while the electrification process takes shape. Short-chain alcohol fuels have favorable properties for the enhancement of engine performance and the abatement of pollutant emissions, however, they necessitate ignition aid systems in compression ignition engines. The present research investigates a novel concept of dual-fuel combustion for heavy-duty compression ignition engine applications by means of engine tests and three-dimensional combustion simulations. This concept involves the direct injection of pure ethanol as main fuel through a centrally mounted injector, and minimal quantities of diesel as pilot fuel via a separate injector. The objective is to achieve diffusive combustion of ethanol in a process analogous to conventional diesel combustion throughout the entire engine load range, with a higher thermal efficiency and lower pollutant emissions. Single-cylinder engine tests were carried out to evaluate the influence of combustion characteristics and performance with respect to dual-injection strategy, engine load, ethanol ratio and configuration of the diesel pilot injector. The characteristics and performance of ethanol-diesel direct injection compression ignition (DICI) combustion were compared to two sets of baselines, that are conventional diesel combustion and dual-injections of diesel via the main and pilot injector in the same proportion as in the dual-fuel test points. At low load conditions, increasing the separation between the diesel pilot and ethanol main injection enabled the achievement of diffusive combustion of ethanol, avoiding combustion instability and partial misfire thanks to minimal quantities of diesel injected. At high load conditions, a minimum main-pilot separation was instead required to limit the degree of ethanol premixing at ignition. Using a diesel pilot injector having a lower number of sprays with a wider hole diameter promoted a more robust ignition of ethanol, while also causing a reduction of engine performance. Parallel to the experimental work, three-dimensional combustion simulations were carried out in order to investigate the interaction between diesel and ethanol sprays during ignition at various engine operating conditions, from low to full load. At the operating conditions investigated during engine tests, the ignition of a subset of ethanol sprays was locally triggered by the contact with the products of diesel combustion. Subsequently, ignition propagated towards the neighboring ethanol sprays, until reaching the furthest ones from the diesel pilot injector. The coupling between experimental and numerical results highlighted the noteworthy predictive capability of the adopted combustion model with respect to the ethanol combustion characteristics. In conclusion, the present research work provides a solid starting point for future studies on diffusive combustion of alcohol fuels in compression ignition engines. The structured knowledge built in the course of the doctoral project lays the foundation for the development of a fuel-flexible engine for heavy-duty applications.