New Facility Takes Aim at Diesel Smoke
A new facility at Argonne, the Heavy-Duty Truck Engine Test Cell, is dedicated to reducing particulate emissions from diesel engines.
Executives from research partners Caterpillar, Inc. and the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Heavy Vehicle Technologies were on hand April 13 to open this new addition to the Powertrain and Emissions Research Facility.
The new test cell is equipped with state-of-the-art instruments to measure gas and particulate (soot) emissions. Researchers will use these instruments to study the effects of injecting air or oxygen-enriched air in the late stages of the combustion cycle to cut emissions.
The research is part of a three-year, $1.2 million cooperative research and development agreement between Argonne, Caterpillar and DOE. It is a part of Argonne's ongoing research to substantially cut diesel engine emissions.
Diesel engine makers and the government are eager to improve diesel engine emissions before new regulations go into effect in 2004.
"We now know that air handling is as important as fuel injection when it comes to improving diesel engine emissions," said Jim Eberhardt, director of DOE's Office of Heavy Vehicle Technologies.
"We appreciate being close to such a valuable facility and combining our talents to answer these important questions related to cleaner diesel engines," said Jim Sibley, assistant director of research at the Peoria, Ill.-based Caterpillar.
The engine research is based on earlier Argonne engine technology with patents pending. Researchers developed a control process that reduces soot emissions in diesel engines without increasing nitrogen oxide (NOx) formation. NOx is a precursor to ozone and contributes significantly to smog.
"The challenge has always been to divorce the two problems from each other. Typically when you reduce NOx, you increase particulates; and when you reduce particulates, you increase NOx," explained Harvey Drucker, associate laboratory director for Energy and Environmental Science and Technology.
Injecting air or oxygen-enriched air into the combustion chamber late in the combustion cycle promotes oxidation -- burning up -- of particles as they form. Also, NOx formation occurs early in combustion, so adding air or oxygen-enriched air afterward does not increase NOx.
Researchers used computer simulation models in the first component of the project. "The computational fluid dynamics models show that the angle, timing and pressure of the air or oxygen-enriched air addition is critical to the performance," said Ramesh Poola (ES), the mechanical engineer who developed this engine-control regime. "They also show that the composition of the oxygen in the air is less critical than we thought," explained Doug Longman (ES), Poola's research colleague.
Argonne engineers will refine the model to explore the effects of injection angle, timing, pressure, quantity and composition of air on particulate emissions. Future simulations and research will evaluate changing the location of the injector, and extending the model to a small-bore, high-speed, compression-ignition, direct-injection engine.
Reproduced from Argonne News, April 24, 2000
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