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Improving Ethanol Life Cycle Energy Efficiency by Direct Combustion of Wet Ethanol in HCCI Engines

[+] Author Affiliations
Joel Martinez-Frias, Salvador M. Aceves, Daniel L. Flowers

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Paper No. IMECE2005-79432, pp. 225-234; 10 pages
  • ASME 2005 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Advanced Energy Systems
  • Orlando, Florida, USA, November 5 – 11, 2005
  • Conference Sponsors: Advanced Energy Systems Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4211-8 | eISBN: 0-7918-3769-6
  • Copyright © 2005 by ASME


Homogenous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI) is a relatively new engine technology with fundamental differences over conventional engines. HCCI engines are intrinsically fuel flexible, and can run on low grade fuels, as long as the fuel can be evaporated and heated to the point of ignition. In particular, HCCI engines can run on wet ethanol with high concentration of water. Considering that much of the energy required for processing the ethanol is spent in distillation and dehydration, direct use of wet ethanol in an HCCI engine considerably shifts the energy balance in favor of ethanol. The results of the paper show that an HCCI engine with efficient heat recovery can operate on a 35-65% volumetric mixture of ethanol and water, while achieving a high efficiency (38.7%) and very low NOx (1.6 parts per million, clean enough to meet any existing or oncoming emissions standards). Operation of the HCCI engine with 35% ethanol by volume reduces the energy required for distillation and dehydration from 37% to 3% of the overall energy of ethanol and coproducts. The net energy gain increases considerably, from 21% to 55% of the total energy value of the fuel and coproducts. Wet ethanol combustion in HCCI engines shows great potential for improving the ethanol energy balance, and merits more detailed analysis and experimental evaluation.

Copyright © 2005 by ASME



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