Performance and Emission Characteristics of Direct Injection DME Combustion under Low NOx Emissions



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Authors Abstract
Compression ignition internal combustion engines provide unmatched power density levels, making them suitable for numerous applications including heavy-duty freight trucks, marine shipping, and off-road construction vehicles. Fossil-derived diesel fuel has dominated the energy source for CI engines over the last century. To mitigate the dependency on fossil fuels and lessen anthropogenic carbon released into the atmosphere within the transportation sector, it is critical to establish a fuel source which is produced from renewable energy sources, all the while matching the high-power density demands of various applications. Dimethyl ether (DME) has been used in non-combustion applications for several decades and is an attractive fuel for CI engines because of its high reactivity, superior volatility to diesel, and low soot tendency. A range of feedstock sources can produce DME via the catalysis of syngas.
In this work, DME is applied in a direct injection compression ignition combustion application. A novel plunger-type injection system was used to pressurize DME to 415 bar. Each set of operating conditions was subject to exhaust gas dilution to lower NOx emissions below the current regulatory standards. The results focused on the combustion characteristics and exhaust emissions, with matching conditions under diesel-fueled operation as a baseline reference for proper comparison. Non-regulated exhaust species were compared, specifically hydrogen, methane, and formaldehyde. The ultra-low smoke characteristic of DME avoided the classical NOx-soot trade-off of diesel-fueled engines, allowing for combustion optimization through stronger exhaust gas dilution. DME showed improved combustion completeness likely owing to the self-containing oxygen and higher volatility minimizing the dependency on mixing with the in-cylinder surrounding compressed charge.
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Leblanc, S., M, M., Han, X., Tjong, J. et al., "Performance and Emission Characteristics of Direct Injection DME Combustion under Low NOx Emissions," SAE Technical Paper 2023-01-0327, 2023,
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Apr 11, 2023
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Technical Paper