Recent increases in fuel costs, concerns for global warming, and limited supplies of fossil fuels have prompted wide spread research on renewable liquid biofuels produced domestically from agricultural feedstock. In this study, two types of biodiesels and vegetable oil (VO) are investigated as potential fuels for gas turbines to generate power. Biodiesels produced from VO and animal fat were considered in this study. The problems of high viscosity and poor volatility of VO (soybean oil) were addressed by using diesel-VO blends with up to 30% VO by volume. Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, thermogravimetric analysis, and density, kinematic viscosity, surface tension and water content measurements were used to characterize the fuel properties. The combustion performance of different fuels was compared experimentally in an atmospheric pressure burner with an air assist injector and swirling primary air around it. For different fuels, the effect of the atomizing airflow rate on Sauter mean diameter was determined from a correlation for air-assist atomizers. Profiles of nitric oxides (NOx) and carbon monoxide (CO) emissions were obtained for different atomizing airflow rates, while the total airflow rate was kept constant. Results show that despite the compositional differences, the physical properties and emissions of the two biodiesel fuels are similar. Diesel-VO fuel blends resulted in slightly higher CO emissions compared to diesel, while the NOx emissions correlated well with the flame temperature. Results show that the CO and NOx emissions are determined mainly by fuel atomization and fuel/air mixing processes, and that the fuel composition effects are of secondary importance for fuels and operating conditions of the present study.

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