Combustion analysis of microalgae methyl ester in a common rail direct injection diesel engine

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Islam, MA, Rahman, MM, Heimann, K, Nabi, N, Ristovski, ZD, Dowell, A, Thomas, G, Feng, B, von Alvensleben, N & Brown, RJ 2015, 'Combustion analysis of microalgae methyl ester in a common rail direct injection diesel engine', Fuel, vol. 143, pp. 351-360.

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In this study, the biodiesel properties and effects of blends of oil methyl ester petroleum diesel on a CI direct injection diesel engine is investigated. Blends were obtained from the marine dinoflagellate Crypthecodinium cohnii and waste cooking oil. The experiment was conducted using a four-cylinder, turbo-charged common rail direct injection diesel engine at four loads (25%, 50%, 75% and 100%). Three blends (10%, 20% and 50%) of microalgae oil methyl ester and a 20% blend of waste cooking oil methyl ester were compared to petroleum diesel. To establish suitability of the fuels for a CI engine, the effects of the three microalgae fuel blends at different engine loads were assessed by measuring engine performance, i.e. mean effective pressure (IMEP), brake mean effective pressure (BMEP), in cylinder pressure, maximum pressure rise rate, brake-specific fuel consumption (BSFC), brake thermal efficiency (BTE), heat release rate and gaseous emissions (NO, NOx, and unburned hydrocarbons (UHC)). Results were then compared to engine performance characteristics for operation with a 20% waste cooking oil/petroleum diesel blend and petroleum diesel. In addition, physical and chemical properties of the fuels were measured. Use of microalgae methyl ester reduced the instantaneous cylinder pressure and engine output torque, when compared to that of petroleum diesel, by a maximum of 4.5% at 50% blend at full throttle. The lower calorific value of the microalgae oil methyl ester blends increased the BSFC, which ultimately reduced the BTE by up to 4% at higher loads. Minor reductions of IMEP and BMEP were recorded for both the microalgae and the waste cooking oil methyl ester blends at low loads, with a maximum of 7% reduction at 75% load compared to petroleum diesel. Furthermore, compared to petroleum diesel, gaseous emissions of NO and NOx,increased for operations with biodiesel blends. At full load, NO and NOx emissions increased by 22% when 50% microalgae blends were used. Petroleum diesel and a 20% blend of waste cooking oil methyl ester had emissions of UHC that were similar, but those of microalgae oil methyl ester/petroleum diesel blends were reduced by at least 50% for all blends and engine conditions. The tested microalgae methyl esters contain some long-chain, polyunsaturated fatty acid methyl esters (FAMEs) (C22:5 and C22:6) not commonly found in terrestrial-crop-derived biodiesels yet all fuel properties were satisfied or were very close to the ASTM 6751-12 and EN14214 standards. Therefore,C.cohnii- derived microalgae biodiesel/petroleum blends of up to 50% are projected to meet all fuel property standards and, engine performance and emission results from this study clearly show its suitability for regular use in diesel engines.