Detailed Compositional Comparison of Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil with Several Diesel Fuels and Their Effects on Engine-Out Emissions

Authors Abstract
The Coordinating Research Council (CRC) is actively involved in developing and applying advanced analytical techniques to the chemical characterization of transportation fuels. This article complements a 2017 CRC project to quantify and compare the effects of a commercially available renewable diesel fuel (hydrotreated vegetable oil [HVO]) and an ultralow sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel on engine-out gaseous and particulate matter (PM) emissions from a light-duty vehicle. Results showed that the combustion of HVO fuel had an advantage over ULSD in terms of lowering engine-out emissions (THC, CO, NOx, etc.). Furthermore, this advantage is strongly related to the fuel composition.
This article summarizes the results of advanced and comprehensive analytical tests on the same ULSD and HVO fuels and attempts to connect some of the engine-out emissions results to fuel composition and specific chemical structures. A variety of test methods, generally unavailable in combination, were employed, such as one-dimensional (1D) and two-dimensional (2D) gas chromatography (GC), nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR), and high-pressure solid-liquid phase transition experiments.
In summary, the ULSD sample was found to have representation across the expected set of hydrocarbon classes typical for the sample type. Interestingly, a high content of cycloparaffins (>50 wt%) and a very low content of diaromatics (~2 wt%) were present. While not without precedent, these are higher and lower, respectively, than typically found for commercial ULSD compositions. In contrast, HVO was found to consist of only two hydrocarbon classes: n-paraffins (~10 wt%) and iso-paraffins (~90 wt%), both predominantly in a narrow carbon atom number range (i.e., C14–C18). HVO engine-out emissions results for the LA-92 and steady-state testing can be tracked to the narrow carbon atom number range of the n-paraffins and iso-paraffins, which result in a high cetane number fuel having a narrow distillation range. Previously, the low-temperature operability of HVO has been a concern, but that appears not be the case for this particular HVO. HVO and ULSD were evaluated at pressures up to ~275 MPa and found to have comparable solid-liquid equilibria despite significant compositional differences.
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Bays, J., Gieleciak, R., Viola, M., Lewis, R. et al., "Detailed Compositional Comparison of Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil with Several Diesel Fuels and Their Effects on Engine-Out Emissions," SAE Int. J. Fuels Lubr. 16(3):193-220, 2023,
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Dec 8, 2022
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Journal Article