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Title: Novel biofuel formulations for enhanced vehicle performance

This interdisciplinary research program at Michigan State University, in collaboration with Ford Motor Company, has explored the application of tailored or designed biofuels for enhanced vehicle performance and reduced emissions. The project has included a broad range of experimental research, from chemical and biological formation of advanced biofuel components to multicylinder engine testing of blended biofuels to determine engine performance parameters. In addition, the project included computation modeling of biofuel physical and combustion properties, and simulation of advanced combustion modes in model engines and in single cylinder engines. Formation of advanced biofuel components included the fermentation of five-carbon and six-carbon sugars to n-butanol and to butyric acid, two four-carbon building blocks. Chemical transformations include the esterification of the butyric acid produced to make butyrate esters, and the esterification of succinic acid with n-butanol to make dibutyl succinate (DBS) as attractive biofuel components. The conversion of standard biodiesel, made from canola or soy oil, from the methyl ester to the butyl ester (which has better fuel properties), and the ozonolysis of biodiesel and the raw oil to produce nonanoate fuel components were also examined in detail. Physical and combustion properties of these advanced biofuel components were determined during the project. Physicalmore » properties such as vapor pressure, heat of evaporation, density, and surface tension, and low temperature properties of cloud point and cold filter plugging point were examined for pure components and for blends of components with biodiesel and standard petroleum diesel. Combustion properties, particularly emission delay that is the key parameter in compression ignition engines, was measured in the MSU Rapid Compression Machine (RCM), an apparatus that was designed and constructed during the project simulating the compression stroke of an internal combustion engine under highly instrumented conditions. Simulation of and experimentation on combustion in single and multicylinder engines was carried out in detail throughout the project. The combustion behavior of biofuel blends neat and in petroleum were characterized in the MSU optical engine, in part to validate results obtained in the RCM and to provide data for comparison with simulations. Simulation of in- cylinder, low-temperature combustion included development of an extensive fuel injection model that included fuel spray breakup, evaporation, and ignition, along with prediction of cylinder temperature, pressure, and work produced. Single cylinder and multicylinder engine tests under advanced low-temperature combustion conditions conducted at Ford Motor Company validated experimental and simulation results obtained in the MSU engine and in MSU simulations. Single cylinder engine tests of an advanced biofuel containing biodiesel and dibutyl succinate, carried out under low-temperature combustion conditions, showed similar power generation and gas-phase emissions (CO, HC, NOx), but a reduction in particulates of as much as 60% relative to neat biodiesel and 95% relative to petroleum diesel at the same operating conditions. This remarkable finding suggests that biofuels may be able to play a role in eliminating the need for particulate removal systems in diesel vehicles. The multicylinder engine tests at Ford, carried out using butyl nonanoate as an advanced biofuel, also gave promising results, showing a strong decline in particulate emissions and simultaneously a modest decrease in NOx emissions relative to standard petroleum diesel at the same conditions. In summary, this project has shown that advanced biofuels and their blends are capable of maintaining performance while reducing emissions, particularly particulates (soot), in 3 compression ignition engines. The interdisciplinary nature of biofuel production and testing has identified fuel properties that are capable of producing such performance, thus providing direction for the implementation of renewable fuels for U.S. transportation. The testing and simulation studies have deepened our understanding of combustion 1) by advancing the rigor with which simulations can be carried out and 2) by illustrating that differences in biofuel and petroleum fuel properties can be used to predict differences in combustion behavior in engines. The future viability of biofuels for compression ignition (diesel) engines is now subject to economic (cost) uncertainty more so than to technical barriers, as the advanced biofuel blends developed here can improve cold-weather fuel properties, provide similar engine performance, and reduce emissions.« less
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  1. Michigan State Univ., East Lansing, MI (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Michigan State Univ., East Lansing, MI (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
Country of Publication:
United States