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Independent Fuel Property Effects of Fuel Volatility on Low Temperature Heat Release and Fuel Autoignition

Publication Type
ORNL Report
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This Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) project between Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and Shell Global Solutions (Shell) was initiated as part of a Directed Funding Opportunity (DFO) call for proposals from the Co-Optimization of Fuels and Engines (Co-Optima) initiative. Shell had observed that volatile fuels suppress low temperature heat release (LTHR) more than expected based on conventional gasoline autoignition metrics: research octane number (RON) and motor octane number (MON). The role of LTHR contributes to autoignition phenomena for both boosted spark ignition (BSI) and advanced compression ignition (ACI) combustion modes. ACI combustion modes are applicable to large engines in the hard-to-electrify applications such as off-road, rail, and marine. Thus, having a reliable understanding of autoignition phenomena, including being able to accurately account for the effects of fuel volatility, is particularly important as new synthetic and bio-fuel compositions are considered.

This CRADA project aimed to test the hypothesis that the decreased LTHR is due to preferential evaporation of multicomponent fuels when using direct injection (DI) fueling technology, creating composition and reactivity stratification. A custom set of fuels was designed and blended to test this hypothesis by Shell, with experimental engine studies at ORNL and engine combustion modeling by ANL. However, the initial experimental findings did not show the expected effect of fuel volatility suppressing LTHR. Instead, the LTHR propensity observed was independent of the fuel volatility.

Due to the unexpected experimental result, the remainder of the experimental effort was redirected to study the effect of fuel volatility on emissions under spark-ignited cold-start conditions. However, as with the LTHR experiments, the cold start effort did not show a meaningful effect of fuel volatility on cold start emissions. Meanwhile, improved engine CFD models have been developed for both LTHR and cold start operations for the Shell fuels with different volatilities. While the simulation efforts were not pursued further due to the insignificant effects of fuel volatility as shown in experiments, the models developed can be easily retooled for off-road, rail, and marine applications.