The effect of compression ratio on emissions from an alcohol-fueled engine

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Virginia Tech

The motivation for this work stems from the enacting of stricter emissions requirements for the mid 1990's by the California Air Resources Board. It is foreseen that these requirements will favor the use of alcohol fuels in quantities comparable to the present usage of gasoline and diesel in order to reduce emissions of carbon monoxides (CO) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). The use of alcohol fuels at this level will substantially increase the amount of aldehyde emissions. This poses a problem in that aldehydes are odorants, components of photochemical smog, and volatile aldehydes are eye and respiratory tract irritants; therefore, it is only a matter of time before they too are strictly regulated.

This thesis focuses on a systematic analysis of aldehyde emissions from alcohol fuels with respect to compression ratio. Compression ratio has been selected as the primary variable for this study, because alcohol-fueled vehicles are usually modified to have higher compression ratios than their gasoline-fueled counterparts in order to take advantage of alcohols' higher octane rating. The investigation is being conducted using a single-cylinder variable-compression ratio Waukesha-CFR engine. The aldehyde emissions are measured for various fuel alcohol percentages at different compression ratios and MBT timing. The effects on conventional vehicle emissions (Le. NOx, CO, unburned hydrocarbons) are also being measured so that tradeoffs between conventional emissions and aldehyde emissions can be determined.

The goal of this research was to locate any trends between alcohol fuels and compression ratios which will allow for an optimization of these parameters to minimize aldehyde emissions. It was desired that this be achieved without sacrificing engine performance or increasing other regulated emissions.

The variance of compression ratio was found to affect the pollutant formation process via its effects on temperature. The increasing expansion ratio, which accompanies increasing compression ratio, resulted in lower post .. expansion burned-gas temperatures. Temperature's influence on the rate of reactions was found to be the driving force in the formation of most of the pollutants. The experiment showed a definitive reduction in CO emissions with the use of alcohol fuels. The results also indicated an inherent tradeoff between NOx and formaldehyde emissions.