CO2 neutral heavy-duty engine concept with RCCI combustion using seaweed-based fuels

Xander Seykens (Corresponding author), Cemil Bekdemir, Jinlin Han, Robbert Willems, Jaap Van Hal

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


This paper focusses on the application of bioalcohols (ethanol and butanol) derived from seaweed in Heavy-Duty (HD) Compression Ignition (CI) combustion engines. Seaweed-based fuels do not claim land and are not in competition with the food chain. Currently, the application of high octane bioalcohols is limited to Spark Ignition (SI) engines. The Reactivity Controlled Compression Ignition (RCCI) combustion concept allows the use of these low carbon fuels in CI engines which have higher efficiencies associated with them than SI engines. This contributes to the reduction of tailpipe CO2 emissions as required by (future) legislation and reducing fuel consumption, i.e. Total-Cost-of-Ownership (TCO). Furthermore, it opens the HD transport market for these low carbon bioalcohol fuels from a novel sustainable biomass source. In this paper, both the production of seaweed-based fuels and the application of these fuels in CI engines is discussed. Ethanol and butanol are considered as the most viable fuels derived from seaweed. The potential of these fuels has been evaluated for the dual-fuel RCCI mode regarding efficiency and NOx emissions. The operating conditions that have been varied are mainly the fuel blend ratio (BR), fuel injection timing, and EGR rate on both a HD single-cylinder and on a HD multi-cylinder engine. The results for E85/diesel-RCCI demonstrate that CI engine-like efficiencies are feasible. The gross Indicated Thermal Efficiency (ITE) reaches up to 52% and 46.5% using E85 in a single-cylinder and a multi-cylinder engine, respectively. The first results using biomass based butanol show greater difficulty in realizing targeted efficiencies on the multi-cylinder engine due to the higher fuel reactivity and higher boiling temperature than ethanol. The gross ITE reaches up to 51.6% and 38.5% using butanol in a single-cylinder and a multi-cylinder engine, respectively. The demonstrated potential of seaweed-based fuels is an important driver for upscaling the production process of these fuels. Furthermore, future development activities will focus on improving the brake thermal efficiency of the RCCI engine running on seaweed-based fuels. Improving the low reactivity fuel-air mixture preparation will be key to achieve this.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2020-01-0808
Number of pages13
JournalSAE Technical Papers
Issue numberApril
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2020
EventSAE 2020 World Congress Experience, WCX 2020 - Detroit, United States
Duration: 21 Apr 202023 Apr 2020

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