The research on the spray combustion of diesel and biodiesel is vital to the understanding of emission formation and optimal utilization of fuel. This paper studies the biodiesel and diesel spray combustion in a constant volume chamber under different simulated diesel engine conditions. The ambient temperature at fuel injection varied from 800K to 1200K, while the ambient oxygen concentration was maintained at 21%. Simultaneous high speed imaging of OH* chemiluminescence and flame luminosity was employed to visualize the whole combustion process. Heat release rate was analyzed based on the measured combustion pressure. The apparent heat release rate analysis shows that biodiesel has a shorter ignition delay time than diesel, and biodiesel has a smaller cumulative heat release value due to its lower heating value. The overlaying image of OH* chemiluminescence and flame luminosity clearly identifies the high temperature reaction regions and soot formation regions. The line-of-sight images agree with the published observation that the hydroxyl radical is formed on the lean side of the flame edge. Decreasing ambient temperature greatly reduces the OH* chemiluminescence intensity of the diesel combustion, while the impact is smoother and milder for biodiesel combustion. Biodiesel shows a significantly lower level of flame luminosity than diesel under all conditions. These combined observations lead to a speculation that the soot oxidation process may serve as an important contributor to OH* chemiluminescence intensity for late stage combustion, and biodiesel shows a tendency to produce less soot than diesel under the investigated conditions.

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