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The Case for the Diesel Engine

Magdi K. Khair Abstract: The diesel engine, invented in the late 19th century by Dr. Rudolf Diesel, is the most energy efficient power plant among all type of internal combustion engines known today. This high efficiency translates to good fuel economy and low greenhouse gas emissions. Other diesel features that have not been matched by competing energy conversion machines include durability, reliability, and fuel safety. The downsides of diesels include noise, low specific power output, NOx and PM emissions, and high cost.

What Is the Diesel Engine? Energy Conservation and the Diesel Engine What Are the Advantages of Diesel Engines?

What Is the Diesel Engine?


Brief History
In spite of gloomy predictions from extremist groups regarding the future of diesel engines, evidence seems to suggest that the diesel technology continues to score impressive gains. The diesel share of the market is growing, not only in Europe where diesels enjoy an excellent reputation, but also in the USA where diesels are much maligned. Recent reports from regulatory agencies in the USA, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indicate that in spite of very restrictive emission regulations, diesel sales are growing at the rate of 4% per year [Machiele 2000]. In the next few years, sales are expected to further accelerate with much of the growth occurring in the light-duty market segment. Rudolph Diesel, who is best known for his invention of the engine that bears his name, was born in France in 1858. In the 1890s, he received a number of patents for his invention of a highly efficient, slow burning, compression ignition, internal combustion engine (German Patent 86,633 of Mar 30, 1895; U.S. Patent 608,845 of Aug 9, 1898). His invention came while the steam engine was the predominant power source for large industries. The prototype of Dr. Diesel engine first ran on its own power on August 10, 1893 after 13 years of intensive development. Two years later, on the last day of 1896 Dr. Diesel demonstrated another model with a spectacular mechanical theoretical efficiency of 75.6% while the then popular steam engine had an anemic 10% mechanical efficiency [USPTO 2000].

Development of Diesels invention needed more time and work to become the commercial success that it was destined to be. Many engineers and developers joined in the work to improve the market viability of the idea created by Dr. Diesel. He, on the other hand, became somewhat threatened by this process and was not always able to find common language with other engine designers developing his invention. Diesels attempts of market promotion of the not-yet-ready engine had eventually led into a nervous breakdown. In 1913, deeply troubled by criticisms of his role in developing the engine, he mysteriously vanished from a ship on a voyage to England, presumably committing suicide [Lienhard 2000]. Even in its infancy, Diesels invention had begun to sow the seeds of discord and envy among its rivals. The engine was clearly superior to other forms of energy transfer machines. It was certainly much more efficient than Watts steam engine and was a major threat to Englands coal industry. This sort of rivalry appears to still manifest itself today even though those who place themselves against Dr. Diesels concept may advocate other fuels, combustion cycles, and other energy transfer concepts. Of all the internal-combustion engines known today, the diesel engine is the most efficient. This means that it extracts the greatest amount of energy from a specific amount of fuel [Landis 1998]. In this paper, reasons why the diesel engine is superior are highlighted. Differences between the diesel combustion concept and other concepts will be explained and analyzed. However, no matter what else is worth praise in the diesel engine, its fuel economy and its durability will always be the foundation of its strength.

Definition
The diesel engine is an embodiment of the internal combustion engine. It was invented in the late 19th Century by Dr. R. Diesel for the purpose of efficiently producing mechanical power from the chemical energy stored in fuel. Diesel engines use the conventional cylinder and piston arrangement common to other internal combustion engines such as the gasoline engine. For the most part, there is very little difference between the diesel and gasoline engines. Conceptually, diesels achieve their high performance and excellent fuel economy by compressing air to high pressures then injecting a small amount of fuel into this highly compressed air. Temperatures created when air is compressed cause the small amount of highly atomized injected fuel to evaporate. Mixing with the hot surrounding air in the combustion chamber, the evaporated fuel reaches its auto-ignition temperature and burns thus releasing the energy that is stored in that fuel [Heywood 1988].

Types of Internal Combustion Diesel Engines


Two- and Four-Stroke Cycle

It is widely accepted that cylinder and piston type internal combustion engines are divided into two main categories: the two- and the four-stroke concepts. By definition, two-stroke engines require two strokes for each power stroke in the combustion cycle. Air is admitted just before the compression begins, and the burnt gases are exhausted near the end of the power stroke. A two-stroke is usually smaller in size than a fourstroke engine having the same power output and tend to have higher specific power (i.e., power output for per unit of engine weight) than their four-stroke counterpart. Twostroke engines are generally less fuel efficient than four-stroke engines. The main reason for the fuel inefficiency in two-stroke engines is the scavenging process where residual exhaust is scavenged using, in part, the fresh charge. During this process, some of the fresh charge escapes with the exhaust, thus wastes part of the fuel. This process is also called short-circuiting, meaning that a portion of the fresh charge bypasses the combustion process and goes directly into the exhaust system. Two-stroke engines are popular in applications where small one- or two-cylinder engines are needed [Blair 1996]. However, Burmeister and Wain in Copenhagen and Sulzer in Winterthur had built extremely large two-stroke engines. These were typically 900 mm bore and 1800 mm stroke turning at 60-100 revolutions per minute, producing as high as 4000 horsepower outputs. Their thermal efficiency was greater than 50%, of course without the constraints of emissions limits. By contrast, it takes four strokes for each power stroke in the four-stroke engine. In the first stroke, the intake stroke, the piston moves from its position at top-dead-center, TDC, toward the bottom-dead-center, BDC (a diagrammatic sketch of the cylinder/piston internal combustion engine arrangement is given in Figure 1). During most of the intake stroke, filtered air is inducted into the cylinder. In the second stroke, air that was inducted into the cylinder is compressed by the piston moving back to TDC from its starting position at BDC. This second stroke is known as the compression stroke where air in that cylinder heats up to a temperature usually above the auto-ignition temperature of the fuel, which is injected into the cylinder near TDC. As the fuel burns heat energy is released raising the pressure inside the greatly reduced volume near TDC. This energy release produces pressure that is applied to the top surface of the piston, thus pushing it back toward its BDC. This stroke is known as the expansion stroke, since it is through that expansion that power (pressure) was imparted to the piston and caused it to move to BDC. The expansion stroke is also known as the power stroke for obvious reasons. It is also referred to by some as the work stroke since the expanding gases were producing work by applying their pressure to the top of piston.

Figure 1. Schematic of Cylinder/Piston Internal Combustion Engine The last of the four strokes is the exhaust stroke where combustion by-products are exhausted into the exhaust system for evacuation into the atmosphere. Figure 2 is a schematic representation of the four-stroke combustion cycle as applied to a diesel engine. In general, todays four-stroke diesel engines are equipped with devices that enhance air charging and allow injecting additional fuel in amounts proportional to the additional air inducted to improve specific power output.

Figure 2. The Four-Stroke Diesel Operation DI and IDI Engines There are two basic types of four-stroke diesel engines: the direct- and the indirectinjected engines. In indirect-injected (IDI) engines, fuel is injected into a pre-chamber connected via a relatively narrow passage to the main combustion chamber. Prechamber or IDI engines are sometimes referred to as divided chamber engines. A glowplug is usually installed in the pre-chamber to assist in cold starting where the fuel spray comes in contact with the red-hot tip of the glow-plug and starts combustion in that limited volume. Gaseous products flow through the throat connecting the two sections of that divided chamber and continue their oxidation process into the main chamber. Combustion in the pre-chamber is so intense and violent that resulting gases and partially combusted by-products pass through the throat area and develop substantial

turbulence in the main chamber. This turbulence is credited with mixing air in the main chamber with the remaining unburnt fuel as well as the hot by-products from the prechamber. A similar action is also experienced while air flows in the opposite direction, from the main chamber through the throat and into the pre-chamber, during the compression stroke. The kinetic energy of the air flowing into the pre-chamber creates the turbulence that is credited with mixing fuel and air for proper combustion. For this reason, injection pressure in IDI applications does not have to be too high as mixing depends on the kinetic energy of the air much more than on fuel atomization. Figure 3 shows three different pre-chamber designs [Jones 1978]. They represent various shapes, lengths, and widths of the throat area, but they all share a few common features. They all sport a glow plug to assist in cold starting and they all have a throat connecting both chambers, which plays an adverse role on the engine efficiency. The flow of air during the compression stroke into the pre-chamber volume is invariably hindered by the presence of the throat which increases pumping losses, thus lowering the overall efficiency of this concept. Another feature common to all pre-chamber engine designs is the relatively high surface area exposed to the engine coolant and leading to increased cooling losses.

Figure 3. Three IDI Designs Pre-chamber diesel engines have several other disadvantages such as lower thermal efficiency, flame impingement on the piston crown while exiting the throat, and in some designs hot gases from the throat may impinge on the valves causing overheating of some critical components and rapid deterioration in lube oil life. On the other hand, pre-chamber engines have lower noise characteristics that are related directly to the lower rate of pressure rise as well as maximum combustion pressure and temperature. All these attributes made them ideal for passenger car

applications where driving comfort is a high priority. Recent development in fuel injection systems, however, as well as emphasis on fuel economy have made it possible for direct-injected (DI) designs to enter this market segment at the expense of the IDI engines. A simple definition of DI combustion is that the fuel is injected directly into the combustion chamber. In DI engines, the combustion chamber is usually in the form of a bowl in the piston crown, as shown in Figure 4. Both air and fuel energies contribute to the mixture preparation and consequently to the combustion efficiency. Therefore, significant effort is expended in carefully designing the combustion system and matching it with the fuel spray characteristics to optimize not only engine performance, but also minimize harmful exhaust emissions. Since mixture preparation in this combustion system has more dependency on the kinetic energy of the fuel spray, injection pressure and injector nozzle hole geometry (hole diameter and length) are more important in DI than IDI engines.

Figure 4. Two DI Combustion Systems The absence of a divided chamber with its throat restriction leads to reduced pumping losses in the DI system. In addition, without a pre-chamber the surface area exposed to the coolant is much reduced from that of the IDI system and that leads to lower heat loss to the coolant. These features contribute to DIs having as much as 10 to 15% better fuel economy than IDIs. For this reason most new diesel engine installation are now exclusively open chamber direct-injected engines.

Energy Conservation and the Diesel Engine

Having briefly discussed one of the major advantages in diesel engines, that is fuel economy, one must consider how this parameter competes among other forms of internal combustion engines and other energy conversion machines in general. Figure 5, adapted from a study by Chrysler Corporation [Asmus 1995], gives a comparative analysis of thermal efficiencies of the following 6 types of powerplants:

Gas turbine (GT) Spark ignited gasoline engine (SI) Sterling hot-air engine DI and IDI diesel engines Fuel cells

Figure 5. Energy Conversion Efficiencies of Several Powerplants The idea of freeing the public from total dependence on the conventional reciprocating internal combustion engine has long fascinated scientists and engineers. To recall the recent history in the United States, the gas turbine engine was made popular thanks to a pilot program by the Chrysler Corporation in the 1960- and 1970-decade. Attracted by its quiet, vibration-free operation, fewer moving parts than its reciprocating rival, and its fuel-versatility, its development was substantially funded by government sponsored grants. Unfortunately, two major factors led to its downfall and its development as the main prime mover for the automobile of the future came to a halt in the mid-1970s. Its fuel economy was not a great improvement over that of the reciprocating gasoline engine, a very serious negative in view of the ongoing oil embargo by several oil producers in the Middle East during that same period. The second problem was related to its high cost as scientists realized that for the gas turbine engine to compete, new turbine materials had to be invented and engineered to allow higher temperatures at the inlet of the power turbine (shown as T5 in Figure 6). The cost associated with high

temperature materials inevitably put an upward pressure on engine cost thus dashing its chances to compete against the well-entrenched reciprocating engine. Other drawbacks associated with gas turbine engines included the following:

Slow acceleration Low efficiency of the regenerator seals Corrosion of recuperators (when used) Fire danger in cases of false starts

Since the buying public often demands performance, the gas turbines slow acceleration was considered a major problem. One of the reasons for the engines sluggish acceleration was attributed to the high accessory load and parasitic losses incurred by the gas generator shaft, since it had to drive most of the engines accessories. Efforts were then launched to design a new accessory drive system powered by the secondstage turbine (power turbine). An incremental efficiency improvement was noted, yet the overall efficiency still depended on the ability for greater expansion through the firstand second-stage turbines. This depended mainly on how high T5 was allowed to be. Replacing the metal turbine with high temperature ceramic allowed T5 to increase to temperatures in excess of 1370C (2500F) [Amann 1989]. The prevalent ceramic technology at the time these developments were taking place failed to give this powerplant the fuel efficiency edge it needed to enter its commercial phase.

Figure 6. Schematic Representation of a Two-Shaft Gas Turbine Engine It is clear from Figure 5 that the gas turbine engine lags far behind other forms of energy conversion concepts in terms of thermal efficiency. Recent activity in hybrid drivetrains have revived the interest in gas turbines, yet its appetite for fuel, cost, need for new high temperature and high strength materials, and the critical tolerances of its turbomachinery continue to haunt its few advocates in the automotive industry.

From Figure 5, we find that the reciprocating spark-ignited internal combustion engine is a small improvement over the gas turbine engine in terms of thermal efficiency. The spark-ignited reciprocating engine (SI) has proven its reliability and sociability in over 100 years of serving mankind. Innovation evolved to meet various challenges as they materialized. Advancements included increased engine efficiency, improved drivetrains, lower transportation cost through improved fuel efficiency by using lighter weight vehicles, decreased aerodynamic drag, and reduced rolling-resistance. These innovations made it easy for the public to embrace the SI engine and propel it to a dominant place in the industrialized world. Yet, this concept is still limited by a relatively low compression ratio, a fact that directly impacts on its thermal efficiency, which is described by the following relationship: (1)th = [1 - Cr(1 - )] 100 where: th - thermal efficiency, % Cr - compression ratio - ratio of specific heats at constant pressure and constant volume (Cp/Cv) Throttling the conventional SI engine is a means to control its power, but has direct adverse implication on the engines volumetric and overall efficiency. The invention and development of the three-way catalyst has provided the SI engine new capabilities in meeting extremely low emissions. Yet, the pressure of preserving natural resources and specifically fossil fuel supplies are still driving towards more efficient powerplants. Even though Dr. Robert Stirlings vocation was that of a clergy, he is credited with inventing the closed-cycle hot-air engine that carries his name in 1816 [Heisler 1997] [Organ 1997]. The working fluid in this cycle is air that recirculates between a hot- and a cold-zone. Heat is added to the working fluid through a heat-exchanger causing air to expand thus imparting pressure on the hot side of the piston. With pressure applied to the piston, it moves causing the evacuation of the colder-air which migrates to the hot side of the piston. The sliding piston motion is used to transfer work to mechanical energy to power various drivetrains. Figure 7 shows a diagram that helps explain the operation of the Stirling cycle and highlights its major components.

Figure 7. Schematic of a Stirling Engine (Courtesy of Heinz Heisler) The fact that the combustion process is isolated from the cyclic changes in the working fluid pressure and temperature changes, makes it easier to control emissions. Another advantage of this concept is the ability to provide heat to the working fluid from a variety of fuels. The only limitation to the fuel is its packaging, delivery, and service complexity. Combustion in the Stirling engine is continuous, therefore, free from the intermittent and explosive nature of that of the internal combustion engine. This characteristic provides a smooth and quiet operation. From the late 1930s until the 1950s, a Dutch company Philips intensified research of this concept and established that using hydrogen or helium instead of air led to greater thermal efficiency. Yet, it was most difficult if not impossible to prevent the working fluid from leaking out of the closed components of the engine. In addition, all of the heat generated and then imparted to the working fluid had to be dissipated into a cooling medium to protect the physical integrity of the engines components since there was no exhaust gas exiting the working fluid area. It is worth noting that in the closed-cycle Stirling engine case, ideal thermal efficiency can be expressed as follows:

(2)E = [1 - Tmin/Tmax] 100 where: E - ideal thermal efficiency, % Tmin - minimum cycle temperature Tmax - maximum cycle temperature It follows that, for the highest thermal efficiency, it is beneficial to minimize Tmin and maximize Tmax. Efforts to reduce Tmin lead to increasing the radiator size which makes it cumbersome for packaging in over-the-road applications. Similarly, efforts to increase Tmax usually lead to expanding the surface area of the heater head and/or use a material that would withstand extremely high temperatures without losing its mechanical integrity. Other, more practical limitations exist that make it difficult to use Sterling engines in transportation. One such limitation is its extremely long starting time, where enough heat must be added to the hot side before the engine can develop any power. Another limitation is that, after shutting the engine down, heat from the heater head escapes into the environment without producing any useful work. Therefore, the Stirling engine has failed to step into the tough arena where internal combustion engines still reign supreme. Reference to Figure 5 is made once again, where the next two powerplants having higher energy conversion efficiency are the diesel indirect-injected and direct injected engines. Since the diesel engines is the main subject of this paper, attributes of the DI/IDI engines, both good and bad, will be discussed later. While still referring to Figure 5, let us focus attention on the fuel cell as an efficient conversion machine. Its energy conversion graph seems to stand alone from the rest of the powerplants discussed thus far and exhibits a rather high efficiency at part load conditions, where all others appear very deficient. From a historical perspective, Sir William Grove is credited with creating the first fuel cell in 1839, however, he could not produce enough power to compete with other sources of energy available in his time [Energy Partners 1993]. In the 1930s, approximately 100 years later, Francis Bacon made significant engineering advances in fuel cell technology. By 1959, after 27 years of research and development, he was able to produce a 5 kW fuel cell system that powered a fork-lift truck. Since this modest beginning, fuel cells have been further developed and used in various military applications. They are used to provide power for life-support systems aboard space shuttles, power homes and businesses, and now they are being considered as propulsion systems for clean transportation. Fuel cells are electrochemical devices using hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity. Their by-product is water and they reject heat as a result of the chemical conversion

process. Unlike batteries, which must be periodically recharged, fuel cells can produce power as long as they are supplied with fuel and oxidant. At the heart of the fuel cell is a solid electrolyte consisting of proton-conducting plastic foil, proto-exchange membrane (PEM), as shown in Figure 8. This foil is coated with a platinum catalyst and an electrode made from gas permeable graphite paper. Graphite bipolar plates, in which fine gas channels are milled, are positioned on both sides of the catalyst. Hydrogen is fed through the channels on one side of the membrane (solid electrolyte), and air flows through the channels on the other side of the electrolyte. The hydrogen side is designated the anode (negative polarity) since the platinum catalyst essentially ionizes the hydrogen molecules at the anode into negatively charged electrons and hydrogen ions (protons), which migrate through the electrolyte toward the cathode. Oxygen flows through the second electrode, where it combines with hydrogen forming water vapor which eventually exits from the powerplant. The result is an electrical voltage between the negative terminal of the anode and the positive terminal of the cathode. Stacks of electrodes sandwiching proton exchange membranes are used to generate the power required for a given application.

Figure 8. Functional Schematic of the Fuel Cell An alternative to the proton exchange membranes is the solid oxide technology, used mostly for high power applications such as industrial and large scale power generating plants. Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) use ceramics instead of either liquid or dry electrolytes. Operating temperatures may reach 980C (1800F) and thermal efficiencies nearing 60% are quite possible. Many observers feel that SOFCs are also a viable alternative for automotive applications. Beyond its relatively simple concept, the fuel cell still faces many challenges before it could be considered a commercially viable powerplant for automotive use. An important

issue to be resolved is which fuel will most likely be the energy source for future fuel cells. Hydrogen appears to be an obvious choice and, theoretically at least, there is an abundance of water to produce hydrogen fuel by electrolysis.

Figure 9. Fueling the Fuel Cell - Options and Implications However, the process of deriving hydrogen from water by electrolysis is energy-intensive and seems to defeat the purpose of economical conversion of energy for transportation. Some feel that the most environmentally- and economically- sound way to provide hydrogen fuel is to use hydroelectric or solar power in the electrolysis process; only then will it be environmentally responsible and, possibly, economically viable. Therefore, as illustrated in Figure 9, producing hydrogen as the energy source for future fuel cell powered vehicles will require further development [Jost 2000]. The next best choice, obtaining hydrogen from methanol, will require onboard fuel refining using a device known as reformer. Among the advantages of using methanol, the prospect of low CO2 emission (estimated at 30% less than todays conventional internal combustion engines) must be the most attractive. Its is followed closely with the fact that methanol is produced from natural gas which is available in large quantities in many areas of the world. In addition, methanol can be made from renewable sources such as organic waste or timber residues. Even though a methanol distribution infrastructure is currently non-existent, it could be distributed through other existing networks such as filling stations as we know them today. The least desirable choice of fuel for the fuel cell is gasoline. An onboard refining process is also required using a more complicated reformer than that of methanol. To balance this major negative, gasoline infrastructure should be considered one of the more significant advantages for this fuel. However, gasoline fuel as we know it may have to change drastically to encourage the formation of large quantities of hydrogen from a reasonably sized reformer.

While there is a great deal of excitement regarding the outlook for fuel cells, this sentiment should be moderated by the challenges that lie ahead. Fuel selection, reformer functionality and efficiency, fuel handling and infrastructure, safety, environmental concerns, toxicity, ground water contamination, fuel efficiency, performance, and consumer acceptance are just a few of the topics holding both challenge and promise for this concept.

Figure 10. Construction of the Wankel Engine - Induction and Compression Phase (Courtesy of Heinz Heisler) Several other powerplants have seen limited commercialization either in a niche market or for a short duration until market and economic conditions changed. For instance, the rotary engine (Wankel), shown in Figure 10, was produced in limited volume and installed in a sports-type car made by Mazda of Japan [Taylor 1985]. The engine was invented by a German, Felix Wankel, and was further developed by the German automaker NSU. This concept uses a wide triangular disc having rounded flanks. A recess in the middle of the side of each flank represent the combustion chamber. This triangular rotor is driven by an eccentric drive around which the rotor orbits. The rotor moves in an orbital fashion inside a housing whose shape resembles the figure eight. At each apex of the triangular rotor, a sliding hard carbon seal mechanism is placed to reduce gas leakage between the two chambers on either side of the seal during the combustion phases. The combustion cycle is very similar to that of the reciprocating piston cycle described earlier. However, the rotating action of the triangular rotor/disc completes all phases of the combustion cycle without excessive unbalance forces experienced in the reciprocating engine. Figure 10, left, shows the induction phase of the rotary engine where the charge is drawn into the engine through the intake port as the rotor moves in a counter-clock direction.

The preceding charge is being compressed while the volume of the space between the flank of the rotor and the engine housing. The seal at apex P is responsible for preventing leakage from the charge under compression to the freshly-inducted charge side of the rotor. At the proper time, the spark plug is energized and combustion follows shortly while the rotor continues its counter-clockwise rotation. The compression phase of the combustion cycle is shown on the right diagram in Figure 10. Both the expansion and exhaust phases of the combustion cycle are represented schematically in Figure 11.

Figure 11. Power and Exhaust Phases of the Wankel Engine (Courtesy of Heinz Heisler) The Wankel engine, whether in its spark-ignited or compression-ignited version, has suffered from basic design problems. The most severe of these problems is the apex seal made of hard carbon fiber material, which experienced excessive wear resulting from moving across the ports sharp edges. Another serious problem is the engine housing distortion, because a small area of the engine is cooled by the incoming charge, leaving the rest of the engine without adequate cooling. This fact led to excessive temperature differential and housing distortion that affected oil consumption and cooling heat loss. Another major limitation of this engine is its low compression ratio, limited by the rotor geometric eccentricity. This problem was compounded by the apex seals that prevented high compression, leading eventually to low thermal efficiencies. However, the engine is compact, simple, and capable of achieving high speeds, therefore, capable of developing high engine outputs. Alternative options to the internal combustion engine include electric energy which is a subject that has received much attention in recent years. Electrically-powered vehicles are attractive because of the general perception that they emit extremely low or nearly no emissions; certainly they should not be emitting any CO2 emissions. Indeed, if such vehicles should reduce the global warming phenomenon, their electric energy should not be produced from fossil fuel. In fact, it is quite appropriate to think of the concept of

well-to-wheels emissions if true zero CO2 emissions is our goal. In spite of the promise of pure environment, electric cars built by General Motors Corporation in the 1990s did not sell and the company ended up halting their production. Yet, even if these cars were sold in significant numbers, it is doubtful that their impact on the CO2 emissions would have been felt. The reason is that electric energy production is predominantly based on fossil fuels and is projected to remain this way for sometime to come. According to projections by the Department of Energy, electricity production in the U.S. will involve fossil fuel well into the 21st Century. Figure 12 shows DOEs projection of how electricity will be generated in the U.S. in 2010 [Amann 1990].

Figure 12. Distribution of Primary Energy Sources for U.S. Electricity in 2010 From Figure 12, about two-thirds of the electricity produced in 2010 will come from coal, oil, and natural gas. Only 20% will come from nuclear energy and 15% from renewable energy. As long as it still takes fossil fuel combustion to produce electricity, electric vehicles may not be totally vindicated when it comes to CO2 emission (not to mention such pollutants as particulate matter, nitrogen and sulfur oxides, that may be also released in the generation of power from fossil fuels). The possible advantage is where these emissions may be generated. A powerplant burning fossil fuels and producing electricity may be located at some distance from residential and commercial neighborhoods where electric vehicles may be used. The location of the powerplant away from the densely-populated areas may serve as a natural barrier keeping emissions away from that population. However, wind direction and other weather conditions give rise to emission transport phenomena that could jeopardize human health. The next plausible choice of generating electricity is nuclear power. Disasters such as the accident at three-Mile Island in Pennsylvania and at Chernoble in the Soviet Union have given nuclear power an unfavorable public image. In addition, the cost of building nuclear powerplants and the time required to complete their construction are major undertakings and may even be prohibitive for todays economies. Nevertheless, if a satisfactory source for electric power is found, its consumption would generate heat that is converted into work capable of driving electrical generators. Electrical power from these generators is transmitted through high tension wires to batteries for storage and use in vehicular applications. Developing a battery with energy

density high enough for an equivalent 300 to 400-mile tank range has been a difficult task to accomplish. While the lead/acid battery has a relatively high power density (about 80 W/kg), it falls far short of the mark in its energy density and can not provide the power requirement for vehicular applications, long range. Other battery candidates include: nickel/cadmium, and nickel/iron having greater power density than lead/acid batteries and a slightly improved energy density at room temperature. Both, sodium/sulfur and lithium aluminum/iron sulfide batteries operate at high temperature, 300-350C for the former and 400-500C for the latter. While these two types of batteries hold promise for best performance and range, they present some operational difficulties if used in cold climates. Their active elements will have to be unfrozen before they could be used [Amann 1990]. Other factors affecting battery applications for traction include: the number of times a battery can be charged before it must be discarded, the depth of charge and its effect on battery performance, the effect of driving habits on battery life and performance, and of driving speed on battery performance and range. Since successful replacement of the internal combustion engine as prime mover depends in large part on customer acceptance, electric vehicles must compete in the same arena. In spite of its many technical accomplishments, the electric vehicle must overcome its battery limitations which comprise: battery energy as well as power density, performance and life, time to charge the batteries, range, depth of charge versus performance, battery cost associated with the need to discard and replacement over the vehicle service life, reliability, and cost. While it is conceivable that these issues can be resolved, the success of the electric vehicle will depend on our ability to invent the super battery. A potential solution to the electric battery limitations, at least in some applications, is a hybrid combustion engine/electric powerplant. In this case, the combustion engine is used to supplement the battery if its energy or power density dropped below those of the driver demand. If the combustion engine in a hybrid vehicle uses fossil fuels, one might argue that we have made the full circle back to the very engine we were trying to replace. While there is some truth to this assertion, it must be noted that combustion engines in hybrids work in concert with the battery. In this respect, over-the-road emissions can be significantly reduced relative to the amount of energy contributed by batteries when excess power is required. Of course, once developed, fuel cells can fulfill the role of the combustion engine in hybrids and if hydrogen is their fuel, then both energy efficiency and clean air can both be accomplished. Yet, such a goal remains to be reached sometime in the future, meanwhile, the highly publicized government-supported Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) has selected a hybrid internal combustion engine/electric hybrid as the most likely to meet future fuel efficiency and emission standards. Not surprisingly, the internal combustion engine selected by the U.S. top scientists and researchers was a compression ignition, direct-injected (diesel)

engine. At present, the nickel metal hydride battery appears to be the choice for hybrid demonstrations offered by car companies.

Figure 13. Hybrid Powertrain Configurations In hybrid powertrains, the heat engine, electric motor, or both, provide propulsion power. Generally, two configurations are considered, as shown in Figure 13. The first is referred to as parallel configuration in which the heat engine is the primary power source, while the electric motor is used as a power assist. This assistance can include a variety of functions from operating most on-board systems to providing supplemental power for acceleration, hill climbing, or any combination of these functions. The power split between the heat engine and the electric motor is an important parameter in deciding the total powertrain emission level. For instance, if the heat engine can be downsized, there will be ample opportunity for minimizing fuel consumption and emission levels. The second approach is the series hybrid arrangement, where the electric motor is used as the primary power source. A small heat engine is used as a generator to recharge the batteries and extend the vehicle range. For either hybrid arrangement, parallel or series, there is always the option of having heat engines and electric motors operate in a dual mode, each supplying power as conditions demand it [Miller 1997]. For instance, a vehicle could operate on electric power only in city driving, where it is desired to minimize or avoid emissions altogether. The heat engine power would be used at highway cruising speeds to conserve electric energy. Both heat engine and electric motor would be used during hard accelerations and other high power demand conditions. In all of these cases, braking energy could be captured and effectively converted from mechanical energy to electrical energy through a generator to help charge the batteries. Sophisticated electronic controls are required for the optimum apportionment of the power between the heat engine and electric motor. Among the notable hybrid electric accomplishments to-date is Fords P2000 LSR equipped with a 4-cylinder, 1.2 L, direct injection, diesel engine. This open chamber

diesel engine supplies the part load power required from the drivetrain and is assisted by an electric motor for acceleration and high power demands. Braking energy is used to recharge the nickel metal hydride storage battery. The combined diesel/electric powertrain takes advantage of the vehicle reduced weight to give an average of more than 60 miles per gallon (3.92 L/100 km). General Motors entry into the hybrid electric field has a 3-cylinder, 1.3 L, turbocharged diesel engine that drives a 6.5 hp, permanent magnet, DC brushless motor/generator. General Motors claims that this vehicle, which uses other technologies developed for its electrical car the EV1, can average 80 miles per gallon (2.94 L/100 km) when powered by the diesel/electric parallel hybrid powertrain. Even though the choice for PNGV, Fords and General Motors hybrids was a diesel reciprocating engine, Honda decided that it was better off with a spark-ignited gasoline engine for its first production hybrid. The engine is a 3-cylinder, 1.0 L, rated 73 hp at 5700 rpm. Its electric motor is a 10 kW/3000 rpm DC brushless permanent magnet motor. Like its Ford and General Motor counterparts, the Honda hybrid uses a nickel metal hydride battery pack for energy storage. Honda claims that its hybrid version can deliver 70 miles per gallon and has a range of between 600 and 700 miles per tank of gasoline. Another hybrid heat engine/electric, introduced by Toyota, is equipped with a combination heat engine and electric motor generally similar to that of the Honda hybrid. With oil prices rising at the same time as the sales of light trucks, mini-vans, and sport utilities, which account to over 50% of auto sales in the USA, research has shifted toward hybrid technology application in this market segment. However, whether or not hybrids will ultimately play a significant role in the transportation sector, one parameter remains clear and that is that fuel economy will be more emphasized environmentalists, consumers, and legislators as time goes by. The fact that more hybrid demonstrations sport a direct injection diesel engine may suggest that diesels may have an advantage over other powerplants. The following discussion is therefore devoted to further investigate the actual and potential advantages of the diesel engine.

What Are the Advantages of Diesel Engines?


After exploring the subject of fuel economy, it may be appropriate to review other advantages of the diesel engines and perhaps expound more on the reasons for the superior fuel economy of diesels. Not only should one focus on the subject of superior performance and fuel economy, but also on the environmental responsibility and accountability. In short, future powerplants and drivetrains must minimize both energy consumption as well as emission of pollutants. In doing so, they should also meet

customers demands for reliability, durability, transportation needs and wants, as well as a host of economical, safety, and social considerations. While it is difficult to accurately assess the cost/benefit ratio of any new technology, certain boundaries must be placed before one can properly evaluate the alternatives. For instance, future designs will have to meet emission regulations and limits, otherwise the product can not be legally sold in those regulated markets. In addition, future products may have to meet certain mandated fuel economy levels unless market forces are able to dictate these levels to the automotive industry.
1.

Emissions Although diesel engines have been much maligned in many circles, they are indeed very efficient powerplants as described earlier. Besides their superior fuel economy advantage, they emit extremely low concentrations of unburned hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide emissions [Schindler 1997]. The reason for these extremely low hydrocarbon (HC) and carbon monoxide (CO) emissions is that diesels operate in very lean regimes where (relative air/fuel ratio) is greater than 1.0 [Heywood 1988]. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the major product generated in the combustion of fossil fuels. This exhaust species is generally referred to as a greenhouse gas and considered responsible for global warming. In spite of this belief, CO2 remains an unregulated emission species. However, at recent environmental world meetings where concerns over the global effects of emissions were discussed, new commitments were made to collectively work at reducing CO2 emissions. Interestingly, CO2 emissions produced by natural phenomena far exceed those which are manmade. Figure 14 shows the apportionment of CO2 emission from natural sources [Schindler 1997]. The total yearly CO2 emissions from natural sources is estimated at 770109 tons/annum. By contrast, the total yearly manmade CO2 emissions is estimated at 26109 tons/annum or less than 4% of the total CO2 inventory.

Figure 14. Sources of Natural CO2 Emission Even though manmade CO2 emissions may represent a small percentage of the global CO2 problem, it is important that action is taken to minimize its impact on the environment. Figure 15 gives the CO2 allocation of each manmade source

[Schindler 1997]. Power generation, heating, and industrial activities are responsible for about 70% of manmade CO2, while transportation-related CO2 represents about 16% of all manmade CO2.

Figure 15. Allocation of CO2 Emissions from Manmade Sources With the worldwide predominance of gasoline-powered personal transportation, conversion to modern diesel-powered vehicle could reduce transportation-related CO2 by about 25% from current levels. Figure 16 represents the results obtained by the German Federal Environmental Agency on 99 gasoline- and 36 diesel-powered vehicles in 1991 [Schindler 1997]. From that study, it was concluded that diesels had an average of 19% advantage over gasoline engines, in CO2 emission. The diesel engines involved in that study were mostly indirect-injected engines that are lower in fuel efficiency than their direct-injected counterparts by about 10 to 15%. Hence a 25% reduction in transportation-related CO2 emissions by encouraging dieselization of gasoline-powered vehicles is thought to be quite feasible.

Figure 16. Comparison Between Gasoline- and Diesel-Powered CO2 Emissions While diesel engines are known for their high engine-out emission of nitrogen oxides, the NOx issue is perhaps worth further examination to put matters in their proper perspective. A sample of about 15 heavy-duty gasoline engines calibrated to meet the 1991 US Federal emission standards were tested according to EPA specifications. The mathematical average of their emissions is given in Table 1, where the corresponding results of a statistically representative sample of diesel

engines of the same capacity are included. In addition, a line of emission data obtained by testing the same heavy-duty gasoline engine when equipped with a 3way catalyst is also provided in Table 1, for comparative purposes. Table 1 Emissions from Heavy-Duty Diesel and Gasoline Engines Test Condition Emissions, g/bhp-hr HC CO NOx PM Diesel, engine-out 0.15 1.50 3.40 0.07 Gasoline, engine-out 0.81 30.22 4.30 Gasoline with 3-way catalyst 0.07 2.30 0.04 Note: Results are composites for EPA heavy-duty transient FTP cycle. Engine-out results are the mathematical average of 15 gasoline engines, 9 diesel engines, and 3 heavy-duty gasoline engines equipped with 3-way catalysts. All engines were about 7.0 L capacity. In diesel engines both HC and CO emissions are a small fraction of those found in their gasoline engine-out counterparts. Even diesel engine-out NOx emissions, in the example of Table 1, are almost 1.0 g/bhp-hr less than their corresponding gasoline emissions. However, thanks to the 3-way catalyst conversion efficiency, the same gasoline engines emit extremely low HC, CO, and NOx emissions. Of course, conditions in the exhaust have to be conducive to the optimum operation of the 3-way catalyst. With accurate control of the fuel and air, modern gasoline engines operate at stoichiometric ratio where the catalyst performs at its highest conversion efficiency. Unfortunately, diesel exhaust is extremely lean and reducing NOx in an oxygen-rich environment is a very challenging task. The catalyst industry is developing solutions for the diesel NOx problem, but so far there is a lot of debate regarding the most plausible method of dealing with this problem. Another problematic pollutant associated with diesel engines is particulate matter. The casual observer is made aware of this pollutant in the form of black smoke or soot emitted from either the tail pipes of many diesel-equipped passenger cars or the stacks of diesel-powered heavy-duty vehicles. Emission of soot is also accompanied with other matter suspended in the exhaust, such as: unburned lube oil, unburned fuel, trace metals, and sulfur byproducts. Emission of soot in particulate matter results from the nature of the heterogeneous combustion process or diffusion type combustion that is prevalent in diesel engines. Fuel and air mixture preparation in modern diesel engines has greatly reduced this problem. In addition, the development of diesel particulate filters promises to eliminate it altogether. Particulate matter is not yet regulated in gasoline engines.
2.

Durability

Compression ratio in diesel engines is approximately twice as high as in gasoline engines. It follows that heat released in diesels occurs at lower speeds than in gasolines. Together with the heat released more torque is produced at lower engine speeds than in gasoline engines. Not only is the heat released earlier in the combustion cycle, but also at a much sudden rate that necessitates more robust engine construction. For this reason, diesel engines are known for their long useful life which may be three to four times that of gasoline engines. In heavy-duty applications, it is not unusual to have diesel engines last close to a million miles before they require a total overhaul. In passenger car applications, diesel engines normally outlast the service life of the vehicles they power.
3.

Reliability One of the major reasons for diesels popularity in commercial applications is their superior reliability. In general, the number of complaints from engine breakdowns is much smaller in the case of diesel than in gasoline engines. This is mainly due to the fact that diesel engines do not use spark plugs, distributors, and ignition systems that tend to have more breakdowns than rugged mechanical parts and components.

4.

Friction Losses The power output of an engine is proportional to the product of its torque and speed. Since diesels produce more torque at lower engine speeds than in gasoline engines, their power is generally produced at lower engine speed. With lower engine speeds friction losses are reduced which improves the brake power of diesel engines and adds to their service life.

5.

Diesel Fuel Safety Diesel fuel is usually more difficult to ignite than gasoline, therefore, it is safer to handle and store. For the same reason, diesel fuel is safer in cases of spills resulting from road accidents. Diesel fuel is also less volatile than gasoline and does not evaporate as readily, which reduces the chances of releasing excessive hydrocarbons into the environment during its handling and transfer.

6.

Compression Ratio The compression ratio in itself is not necessarily an advantage. However, compression ratio acquires its importance in diesels because of how it relates to thermal efficiency. According to Equation (1), introduced earlier in this paper, thermal efficiency increases with increasing compression ratio. However, thermal efficiency should not be exchanged for the total efficiency of the engine since it is

only one of many other efficiencies that make up the overall energy conversion efficiency of the engine. Other efficiencies include mechanical, volumetric, fuel conversion, and thermodynamic. Simply put, the overall efficiency may be calculated on the basis of the work output of an engine relative to its fuel input.
7.

Ease of Breathing and Lower Pumping Losses Power output in diesel engines is controlled by varying fuel rate rather than by throttling inlet air as it is the case in gasoline engines. By not resorting to throttling, air induction into the engine is not interfered with, thus preserving good engine breathing and volumetric efficiency as well as reduced pumping losses. In other words, the work done by the engine to induct enough air for efficient combustion is minimized.

Lest the reader may think that diesels are without fault, one must include the other side of the coin where diesel engines fall short and where improvements should be made to meet both the social and legislative demands of todays environment. Table 2 is a tabulated list of diesels advantages and disadvantages that serves as summary and conclusion for the above discussion. Table 2 Advantages and Disadvantages of Diesel Engines Advantages Disadvantages Fuel Economy Noise* Durability Weight Low HC* High NOx* Low CO* High PM* High Torque Low Speed Reliability Low Air Utilization Low Fuel Cost High Engine Cost Low Maintenance Cost Low Exhaust Temperature * - regulated - significant for exhaust aftertreatment & turbo efficiency Even though modern diesel engines have made big strides towards noise abatement, more work is still required to quiet the engine at idle especially in DI diesel engine designs. This powerplant is known for poor specific power output i.e., low power per unit weight. Its specific power output is generally 50 to 65% of that of gasoline engines. This feature is highly undesirable especially for passenger car applications where emphasis on engine size and weight may be more important than in the heavy-duty applications. The engines high NOx emission and the NOx/PM trade-off challenge remains as the most important technical issue for the diesel engine today. Engine design changes focusing on in-cylinder emission controls are projected to fall short of meeting future emission limits.

Research has now progressed in new areas of technology including fuels and postcombustion emission control devices (exhaust aftertreatment) to assist in meeting future emission standards in the USA, Europe, and Japan. As mentioned earlier, diesel engines develop high torque at relatively low engine speeds. While this fact may desirable for reduced friction loss and producing good traction at low speeds for commercial applications, it forces the use of more robust and expensive transmissions. Another aspect of the diesel engine combustion is its low air utilization. Meaning that in spite of inducting high amounts of air it uses only a small fraction of it. In spite of the many design changes and the evolution diesel engines have experienced in the last two decades, high engine cost remains an important issue. The main reason for this high cost is believed to be its high precision fuel injection system. Manufactured from high strength tool steel, the diesel fuel injection system is responsible for the fine atomization of the fuel as well as some of the mixture preparation that controls to great degree the combustion efficiency. Increased use of electronics as well as introducing novel means for creating the required high injection pressures are helping control the high cost of diesel fuel injection equipment. Finally, with new emphasis placed on post-combustion emission control devices, the low exhaust temperatures characteristic of diesel engines are viewed as a mixed blessing. They represent good efficiency through minimized exhaust heat loss, but they also present a challenge to exhaust aftertreatment which often requires higher temperatures for their efficient operation.

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