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Technical Paper

GEM Ternary Blends of Gasoline, Ethanol and Methanol: An Initial Investigation into Fuel Spray and Combustion Characteristics in a Direct-Injected Spark-Ignition Optical Engine Using Mie Imaging

Five different fuels, including gasoline, commercial E85, pure methanol and two mixtures of gasoline, ethanol and methanol, (GEM), configured to a target stoichiometric air fuel ratio have been investigated in a fully-optically-accessed engine. The work investigated effects of injection duration, and performed spray imaging, thermodynamic analysis of the combustion and OH imaging, for two fixed engine conditions of 2.7 and 3.7 bar NMEP at 2000 rpm. The engine was operated with constant ignition timing for all fuels and both loads. One of the most important results from this study was the suitability of a single type of injector to handle all the fuels tested. There were differences observed in the spray morphology between the fuels, due to the different physical properties of the fuels. The energy utilisation measured in this study showed differences of up to 14% for the different GEM fuels whereas an earlier in-vehicle study had showed only 2 to 3%.
Journal Article

Iso-Stoichiometric Ternary Blends of Gasoline, Ethanol and Methanol: Investigations into Exhaust Emissions, Blend Properties and Octane Numbers

Iso-stoichiometric ternary blends - in which three-component blends of gasoline, ethanol and methanol are configured to the same stoichiometric air-fuel ratio as an equivalent binary ethanol-gasoline blend - can function as invisible "drop-in" fuels suitable for the existing E85/gasoline flex-fuel vehicle fleet. This has been demonstrated for the two principal means of detecting alcohol content in such vehicles, which are considered to be a virtual, or software-based, sensor, and a physical sensor in the fuel line. Furthermore when using such fuels the tailpipe CO₂ emissions are essentially identical to those found when the vehicle is operated on E85. Because of the fact that methanol can be made from a wider range of feed stocks than ethanol and at a cheaper price, these blends then provide opportunities to improve energy security, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to produce a fuel blend which could potentially be cheaper on a cost-per-unit-energy basis than gasoline or diesel.
Technical Paper

GEM Ternary Blends: Testing Iso-Stoichiometric Mixtures of Gasoline, Ethanol and Methanol in a Production Flex-Fuel Vehicle Fitted with a Physical Alcohol Sensor

The paper presents vehicle-based test work using tri-component, or ternary, blends of gasoline, ethanol and methanol for which the stoichiometric air-fuel ratio (AFR) was controlled to be 9.7:1. This is the same as that of conventional "E85" alcohol-based fuel. Such ternary blends are termed "GEM" after the first initial of the three components. The present work was a continuation of an earlier successful project which established that the blends were effectively invisible to a car using a virtual alcohol sensor. The vehicle used here employed the other major technology in flex-fuel vehicles to determine the proportion of alcohol fuel in the tank, a physical alcohol sensor. Another aspect of the present work included the desire to investigate ternary blend replacements for E85 having low ethanol concentrations. Evidence from the previous work suggested that under specific conditions, ethanol was required in some amount to act as a cosolvent for the gasoline and methanol in the blend.
Technical Paper

GEM Ternary Blends: Removing the Biomass Limit by using Iso-Stoichiometric Mixtures of Gasoline, Ethanol and Methanol

The paper presents the concept of ternary blends of gasoline, ethanol and methanol in which the stoichiometric air-fuel ratio (AFR) is controlled to be 9.7:1, the same as that of conventional ‘E85’ alcohol-based fuel. This makes them iso-stoichiometric. Such blends are termed ‘GEM’ after the first initial of the three components. Calculated data is presented showing how the volumetric energy density relationship between the three components in these blends changes as the stoichiometric AFR is held constant but ethanol content is varied. From this data it is contended that such GEM blends can be ‘drop-in’ alternatives to E85, because when an engine is operated on any of these blends the pulse widths of the fuel injectors would not change significantly, and so there will be no impact on the on-board diagnostics from the use of such blends in existing E85/gasoline flex-fuel vehicles.
Journal Article

The Lotus Range Extender Engine

The paper discusses the concept, specification and performance of a new, dedicated range extender engine for plug-in series hybrid vehicles conceived and designed by Lotus Engineering. This has been undertaken as part of a consortium project called Limo Green, part-funded by the UK government. The Lotus Range Extender engine has been conceived from the outset specifically as an engine for a plug-in series hybrid vehicle, therefore being free of some of the constraints placed on engines which have to mate to conventional, stepped mechanical transmissions. The paper starts by defining the philosophical difference between an engine for range extension and an engine for a full series hybrid vehicle, a distinction which is important with regard to how much power each type must produce. As part of this, the advantages of the sparkignition engine over the diesel are outlined.
Technical Paper

The Omnivore Wide-range Auto-Ignition Engine: Results to Date using 98RON Unleaded Gasoline and E85 Fuels

Omnivore is a single cylinder spark ignition based research engine conceived to maximize the operating range of auto-ignition on a variety of fossil and renewable fuels. In order to maximize auto-ignition operation, the two-stroke cycle was adopted with two independent mechanisms for control. The charge trapping valve system is incorporated as a means of varying the quantity of trapped residuals whilst a variable compression ratio mechanism is included to give independent control over the end of compression temperature. The inclusion of these two technologies allows the benefits of trapped residual gas to be maximised (to minimize NOx formation) whilst permitting variation of the onset of auto-ignition. 2000rpm and idle are the main focus of concern whilst also observing the influence of injector location. This paper describes the rational behind the engine concept and presents the results achieved at the time of writing using 98ulg and E85 fuels.
Technical Paper

Extending the Supply of Alcohol Fuels for Energy Security and Carbon Reduction

The paper critiques proposals for de-carbonizing transport and offers a potential solution which may be attained by the gradual evolution of the current fleet of predominantly low-cost vehicles via the development of carbon-neutral liquid fuels. The closed-carbon cycles which are possible using such fuels offer the prospect of maintaining current levels of mobility with affordable transport whilst neutralizing the threat posed by the high predicted growth of greenhouse gas emissions from this sector. Approaches to de-carbonizing transport include electrification and the adoption of molecular hydrogen as an energy carrier. These two solutions result in very expensive vehicles for personal transport which mostly lie idle for 95% of their life time and are purchased with high-cost capital.
Technical Paper

Flex-Fuel Vehicle Development to Promote Synthetic Alcohols as the Basis of a Potential Negative-CO2 Energy Economy

The engine of a high performance sports car has been converted to operation on E85, a high alcohol-blend fuel containing nominally 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline by volume. In addition to improving performance, the conversion resulted in significant improvement in full-load thermal efficiency versus operation on gasoline. This engine has been fitted in a test vehicle and made flex-fuel capable, a process which resulted in significant improvements in both vehicle performance and tailpipe CO2 when operating solely on ethanol blends, offering an environmentally-friendly approach to high performance motoring. The present paper describes some of the highlights of the development of the flex-fuel calibration to enable the demonstrator vehicle to operate on any mixture of 95 RON gasoline and E85 in the fuel tank. It also discusses how through detailed development, the vehicle has been made to comply with primary pollutant emissions legislation on any ethanol-gasoline mixture up to E85.
Technical Paper

Exploitation of Energy Resources and Future Automotive Fuels

The future exploitation of global energy resources is currently being hotly debated by politicians and by sections of the scientific community but there is little guidance available in the engineering literature as to the full gamut of options or their viability with respect to fuelling the world's vehicles. In the automotive industry extensive research is being undertaken on the use of alternative fuels in internal combustion engines and on the development of alternative powerplants but often the long-term strategy and sustainability of the energy sources to produce these fuels is not clearly enunciated. The requirement to reduce CO2 emissions in the face of accelerating global warming scenarios and the depletion of fossil-fuel resources has led to the widespread assumption that some form of ‘hydrogen economy’ will prevail; this view is seldom justified or challenged.
Technical Paper

Alcohol-Based Fuels in High Performance Engines

The paper discusses the use of alcohol fuels in high performance pressure-charged engines such as are typical of the type being developed under the ‘downsizing’ banner. To illustrate this it reports modifications to a supercharged high-speed sports car engine to run on an ethanol-based fuel (ethanol containing 15% gasoline by volume, or ‘E85’). The ability for engines to be able to run on alcohol fuels may become very important in the future from both a global warming viewpoint and that of security of energy supply. Additionally, low-carbon-number alcohol fuels such as ethanol and methanol are attractive alternative fuels because, unlike gaseous fuels, they can be stored relatively easily and the amount of energy that can be contained in the vehicle fuel tank is relatively high (although still less than when using gasoline).