Browse Publications Technical Papers 2019-01-0552

Mixing-Limited Combustion of Alcohol Fuels in a Diesel Engine 2019-01-0552

Diesel-fueled, heavy-duty engines are critical to global economies, but unfortunately they are currently coupled to the rising price and challenging emissions of Diesel fuel. Public awareness and increasingly stringent emissions standards have made Diesel OEMs consider possible alternatives to Diesel, including electrification, fuel cells, and spark ignition. While these technologies will likely find success in certain market segments, there are still many applications that will continue to require the performance and liquid-fueled simplicity of Diesel-style engines. Three-way catalysis represents a possible low-cost and highly-effective pathway to reducing Diesel emissions, but that aftertreatment system has typically been incompatible with Diesel operation due to the prohibitively high levels of soot formation at the required stoichiometric fuel-air ratios.
This paper explores a possible method of integrating three-way catalysis with Diesel-style engine operation. The proposed concept utilizes a high-temperature combustion system-enabled by a combination of thermal insulation, reduced turbocharger aftercooling, and exhaust gas retention-to combust low-cetane “sootless” fuels like ethanol, methanol, and natural gas in a traditional Diesel-style combustion mode (i.e. mixing-limited diffusive combustion, rather than HCCI-like strategies). The proposed concept has demonstrated the ability to meet EPA 2010 soot emissions limits without a particulate filter, while also maintaining a stoichiometric exhaust composition that is compatible with three-way catalysis. Further, the proposed concept can meet, and even exceed, baseline Diesel engine efficiency by combining the high compression ratio Diesel engine design with reduced heat transfer losses. Finally, use of mixing-limited, Diesel-style combustion drastically simplifies combustion phasing, and limits rate of rise. These early results motivate additional work on this concept, further optimizing components for high-temperature operation on alcohol fuels, and integrating the results into a commercial multi-cylinder engine demonstration.


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