There is currently a sustained interest in biofuels as they represent a potential alternative to petroleum derived fuels. Biofuels are likely to help decrease greenhouse gases emissions and the dependence on oil resources. Biodiesels are Fatty Acid Methyl Esters (FAMEs) that are mainly derived from vegetable oils; their compositions depend from the parent vegetables: rapeseed (“RME”), soybean (“SME”), sunflower, palm etc. A fraction of biodiesel has also an animal origin (“tallow”). A key factor for the use of biofuels in gas turbines is their Emissions Indices (NOx, CO, VOC, PM) in comparison with those of conventional “petroleum gasoils”. While biodiesels reduce carbon-containing pollutants, experimental data from diesel engines show a slight increase in NOx. The literature relating to gas turbines is very scarce. Two recent, independent field tests carried out in Europe (RME) and in the USA (SME) showed slightly lower NOx while a lab test on a microturbine showed the opposite effect. To clarify the NOx index of biodiesels in gas turbines, a study has been undertaken, taking gasoil and natural gas (NG) as reference fuels. In this study, a calculation of the flame temperature developed by the 3 classes of fuels has been performed and the effect of their respective compositions has been investigated. The five FAMEs studied were RME, SME and methyl esters of sunflower, palm and tallow; these are representative of most widespread vegetable and animal oil bases worldwide. The software THERGAS has been used to calculate the enthalpy and free energy properties of the fuels and GASEQ for the flame temperature (Tf), acknowledging the fact that “thermal NOx” represents the predominant form of NOx in gas turbines. To complete the approach to structural effects, we have modeled two NG compositions (rich and weak gas) and three types of gasoil using variable blends of eleven linear/branched/cyclic molecules. The results are consistent with the two recent field tests and show that the FAMEs lie close to petroleum gasoils and higher than NG in terms of NOx emission. The composition of the biodiesel and regular diesel fuel influences their combustion heat: methyl esters with double bonds see a slight increase of their Tf and their NOx index while that of gasoil is sensitive to the aromatic content.

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