Fueling a Cleaner Combustion
(KAUST Discovery) Insight into the thermal decomposition of a potential fuel additive shows it could promote cleaner and more efficient combustion. — An additive for conventional fuel comprised of oxygenated organic compounds could help reduce the release of pollutants into the atmosphere during the combustion of fossil fuels. Researchers from KAUST have now established how these potential additives decompose under combustion-relevant conditions.
Specifically, diethyl carbonate (DEC), which comprises 40.6% of oxygen by mass, is expected to facilitate the clean combustion of diesel fuels. Also, thanks to its high boiling point, it can reduce the volatility of blended fuels, which is desirable in warm weather to minimize vapor buildup that blocks fuel lines. However, its thermal decomposition remains poorly understood.
To fill this knowledge gap, Binod Raj Giri and coworkers have now evaluated the effects of pressure and temperature on the decomposition of DEC. With collaborators from the University of Miskolc, Hungary, the researchers assessed the decomposition kinetics of DEC by monitoring the evolution of ethylene, one of the reaction products, in real time using a tunable CO2 gas laser.
The researchers found that the additional oxygen atom destabilized the carbonate by significantly lowering the reaction energy barrier, thereby increasing reactivity.
According to Giri, these findings will shed light into the applicability of biodiesel fuels, which consist of various methyl and ethyl esters, to modern diesel engines and engine hybrids. Also, they will help clarify the blending effect of esters and carbonates with conventional fuels. READ MORE