Crankcase aerosol contributes to the particulate matter (PM) emissions of combustion engines equipped with an open crankcase ventilation system. In case of closed crankcase ventilation, the aerosol forms deposits that diminish engine efficiency, performance, and reliability. Such issues are best avoided by highly efficient filters combined with in-engine reduction strategies based on a quantitative understanding of aerosol sources and formation mechanisms in a crankcase environment. This paper reports key findings from a study of aerosol spectra in the range of 0.01 μm to 10 μm obtained from a 1.3-L single-cylinder engine under well-defined conditions.

Supermicron particles were formed mainly by cooling jet break-up when the piston was positioned in TDC, while at BDC aerosol generation decreased by about 90 % because the oil jet was short and thus stable. Motoring the engine yielded an additional peak around 0.7 μm. It is associated with oil atomization at the piston rings and increased strongly with cylinder peak pressure. No significant contribution of the bearings could be identified at peak pressures below 116 bar. Engine speed had only a minor effect on aerosol properties. Operating the engine in fired mode increased the submicron aerosol concentration substantially, presumably because high(er) peak pressures boost aerosol generation at the piston rings, and because additional particles may have formed from recondensing oil vapor generated at hotspots. Soot or ash aerosols could not be identified in the crankcase aerosol, because they may have been integrated into the bulk oil.

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