In this research, the flow and ignition properties of vegetable oil (VO) are improved by blending it with diethyl ether (DEE). DEE, synthesized from ethanol, has lower viscosity than diesel and VO. When DEE is blended with VO, the resultant DEEVO mixtures have favorable properties for compression ignition (CI) engine operation. As such, DEEVO20 (20% DEE + 80% VO) and DEEVO40 (40% DEE + 60% VO) were initially considered in the current study. The viscosity of VO is 32.4*10−6 m2/s; the viscosity is reduced with the increase of DEE in VO. In this study, our blends were limited to a maximum of 40% DEE in VO. The viscosity of DEEVO40 is 2.1*10−6 m2/s, which is comparable to that of diesel (2.3*10−6 m2/s). The lower boiling point and flash point of DEE improves the fuel spray and evaporation for DEEVO mixtures. In addition to the improvement in physical properties, the ignition quality of DEEVO mixtures is also improved, as DEE is a high cetane fuel (DCN = 139). The ignition characteristics of DEEVO mixtures were studied in an ignition quality tester (IQT). There is an evident reduction in ignition delay time (IDT) for DEEVO mixtures compared to VO. The IDT of VO (4.5 ms), DEEVO20 (3.2 ms) and DEEVO40 (2.7 ms) was measured in IQT. Accordingly, the derived cetane number (DCN) of DEEVO mixtures increased with the increase in proportion of DEE.
The reported mixtures were also tested in a single cylinder CI engine. The start of combustion (SOC) was advanced for DEEVO20 and DEEVO40 compared to diesel, which is attributed to the high DCN of DEEVO mixtures. On the other hand, the peak heat release rate decreased for DEEVO mixtures compared to diesel. Gaseous emissions such as nitrogen oxide (NOX), total hydrocarbon (THC) and smoke were reduced for DEEVO mixtures compared to diesel. The physical and ignition properties of VO are improved by the addition of DEE, and thus, the need for the trans-esterification process is averted. Furthermore, this blending strategy is simpler and enables operation of straight run oils and fats in CI engine, replacing diesel completely.