Injection Strategy and EGR Optimization on a Viscosity-Improved Vegetable Oil Blend Suitable for Modern Compression Ignition Engines
To comply with the ambitious CO2 targets of the European Union, greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector should be eliminated by 2050. Incremental powertrain improvement and electrification are only a part of the solution and need to be supplemented by carbon-neutral fuels. Due to the high technology readiness level, biofuels offer a short-term decarbonization measure. The high process energy demand for transesterification or hydrotreating however, hinders the well-to-wheel CO2 reduction potential of current market biodiesels. An often-raised, economically and energetically feasible alternative is to use unprocessed oils with viscosity and cold-properties improvers instead. The present work investigates the suitability of one such biofuel (PlantanolTM) for advanced common rail engines operating in a partially premixed compression ignition mode. Preliminary investigations are carried out on a Euro VIb light-duty car engine. The main focus is on the influence of the fuel blend on the soot/NOX emission trade-off without changing the engine control maps. Single-cylinder engine tests are then focused on the optimization potential of injection parameters and external EGR to reach optimum performance-emissions trade-off on the new fuel. The results highlight that at the factory map setting, without EGR, biofuel offers slightly reduced thermal efficiency with respect to diesel, as a joint effect of retarded combustion and elevated THC and CO emissions. NOX emissions are reduced by 20% at both non-EGR and to 25% EGR operation. With injection parameters optimization, the combustion phasing can be adjusted to diesel-like values while keeping the NOX reduction benefits. The tested bio-oil blend is however sensitive to EGR, where increasing the recirculation rate retards the combustion while the soot emissions increase almost five-fold over the non-EGR baseline.