Bio-butanol, a promising alternative transportation fuel, has its industrial-scale production hindered significantly by high cost component purification process from acetone-butanol-ethanol (ABE) broth. The purpose of this study is to investigate the possibility of using ABE-Diesel blends with high ABE percentages as an alternative transportation fuel. An optical-accessible constant volume chamber capable of controlling ambient temperature, pressure and oxygen concentration was used to mimic the environmental conditions inside a real diesel engine cylinder. ABE fuel with typical volumetric ratios of 30% acetone, 60% butanol and 10% ethanol were blended with ultra-low sulfur diesel at 80% vol. and were tested in this study. The ambient temperature was set to be at 1100K and 900K, which represents normal combustion conditions and low temperature combustion conditions respectively. The ambient oxygen concentrations were set to be at 21%, 16% and 11%, representing different EGR ratios. The in-cylinder pressure was recorded by using a pressure transducer and the time-resolved Mie-scattering image and natural flame luminosity was captured using a high-speed camera coupled with a copper vapor laser. The results show that the liquid penetration is reduced by the high percentage of ABE in the blends. At the same time, the soot formation is reduced significantly by increasing oxygen content in the ABE fuel. Even more interesting, a soot-free combustion was achieved by combining the low temperature combustion with the higher percentage ABE case. In terms of soot emission, high ABE ratio blends are a very promising alternative fuel to be directly used in diesel engines especially under low-temperature combustion conditions.

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