Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Using Biofuel Tracers to Study Alternative Combustion Regimes


Interest in the use of alternative fuels and engines is increasing as the price of petroleum climbs. The inherently higher efficiency of Diesel engines has led to increased adoption of Diesels in Europe, capturing approximately 40% of the new passenger car market. Unfortunately, lower CO2 emissions are countered with higher nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) emissions, and higher noise. Noise and PM have traditionally been the obstacles toward consumer acceptance of Diesel passenger cars in North America, while NOx (a key component in photochemical smog) has been more of an engineering challenge. Diesels have non-premixed combustion with excess oxygen; reducing NOx to N2 in an oxygen rich environment is difficult. Adding oxygenated compounds to the fuel helps reduce PM emissions. However, relying on fuel alone to reduce PM is unrealistic due to economic constraints and difficult due to the emerging PM standards. Keeping peak combustion temperature below 1700 K inhibits NOx formation. Altering the combustion regime to burn at temperatures below the NOx threshold and accept a wide variety of fuels seems like a promising alternative for future engines. Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI) is a possible solution. Fuel and air are well mixed prior to intake into a cylinder (homogeneous charge) and ignition occurs by compression of the fuel-air mixture by the piston. HCCI is rapid and relatively cool, producing little NOx and PM. Unfortunately, it is hard to control since HCCI is initiated by temperature and pressure instead of a spark or direct fuel injection. We investigate biofuel HCCI combustion, and use intrinsically labeled biofuels as tracers of HCCI combustion. Data from tracer experiments are used to improve our combustion modeling.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View