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The Effect of Ethanol Addition to Gasoline on Low- and Intermediate-Temperature Heat Release under Boosted Conditions in Kinetically Controlled Engines



The Effect of Ethanol Addition to Gasoline on Low- and Intermediate-Temperature Heat Release under Boosted Conditions in Kinetically Controlled Engines


David Malcolm Vuilleumier

Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering

University of California, Berkeley

Professor Jyh-Yuan Chen, Chair

The detailed study of chemical kinetics in engines has become required to further advance engine efficiency while simultaneously lowering engine emissions. This push for higher efficiency engines is not caused by a lack of oil, but by efforts to reduce anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions, that cause global warming.

To operate in more efficient manners while reducing traditional pollutant emissions, modern internal combustion piston engines are forced to operate in regimes in which combustion is no longer fully transport limited, and instead is at least partially governed by chemical kinetics of combusting mixtures. Kinetically-controlled combustion allows the operation of piston engines at high compression ratios, with partially-premixed dilute charges; these operating conditions simultaneously provide high thermodynamic efficiency and low pollutant formation.

The investigations presented in this dissertation study the effect of ethanol addition on the low-temperature chemistry of gasoline type fuels in engines. These investigations are carried out both in a simplified, fundamental engine experiment, named Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition, as well as in more applied engine systems, named Gasoline Compression Ignition engines and Partial Fuel Stratification engines. These experimental investigations, and the accompanying modeling work, show that ethanol is an effective scavenger of radicals at low temperatures, and this inhibits the low temperature pathways of gasoline oxidation. Further, the investigations measure the sensitivity of gasoline auto-ignition to system pressure at conditions that are relevant to modern engines. It is shown that at pressures above 40 bar and temperatures below 850 Kelvin, gasoline begins to exhibit Low-Temperature Heat Release. However, the addition of 20% ethanol raises the pressure requirement to 60 bar, while the temperature requirement remains unchanged.

These findings have major implications for a range of modern engines. Low-Temperature Heat Release significantly enhances the auto-ignition process, which limits the conditions under which advanced combustion strategies may operate. As these advanced combustion strategies are required to meet emissions and fuel-economy regulations, the findings of this dissertation may benefit and be incorporated into future engine design toolkits, such as detailed chemical kinetic mechanisms.

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