Petrol vapor emissions are the main source of pollution for both standard and hybrid vehicles. They are mainly generated by gasoline evaporation from the fuel tank of both running and parked vehicles; it is mostly driven by fuel temperature variation due to daily temperature changes (if parked) and heat from engine (if running). To prevent its dispersion in the environment, the vapor generated in the fuel tank is usually stored in a carbon canister filter that must be periodically “purged” in order to prevent its saturation, by venting it to the intake manifold. Canister management, made by the Engine Control Unit (ECU), becomes even more critical for hybrid-electric vehicles because thermal engine is often off, thus purging cannot take place. A pressurized fuel tank is often used for hybrid applications, to further isolate vapor from environment, making the fuel system even more complex to model. System design optimization is usually based on experience and experimental correlations, which require time and cost. Thus, comes the need for a comprehensive predictive model useful for both vehicle components (fuel tank and carbon canister) and ECU software design.
A 0D Matlab® model is proposed, which can predict vapor generation from an arbitrary tank in standard and arbitrary thermal cycles, with arbitrary tank capacity, geometry and construction and at different filling levels. It is based on a system of thermo-fluid-dynamic differential equations and semi-empirical correlations that is iteratively solved in time. Model calibration has been performed by using a small size test tank and validation has been completed on full size tanks for both standard and hybrid-electric applications. The main driving force for vapor generation has been shown to be the amount of empty volume on top of the tank; other significant effects come from tank volume, material, external surface as well as fuel properties. Ongoing work is to develop and integrate a carbon canister loading/purging model, with the aim to build a full model of the vapor system.