Dual-fuel reactivity-controlled compression ignition (RCCI) combustion using port injection of a less reactive fuel and early-cycle direct injection of a more reactive fuel has been shown to yield both high thermal efficiency and low NOX and soot emissions over a wide engine operating range. Conventional and alternative fuels such as gasoline, natural gas and E85 as the lower reactivity fuel in RCCI have been studied by many researchers; however, published experimental investigations of hydrous ethanol use in RCCI are scarce. Making greater use of hydrous ethanol in internal combustion engines has the potential to dramatically improve the economics and life cycle carbon dioxide emissions of using bio-ethanol. In this work, an experimental investigation was conducted using 150 proof hydrous ethanol as the low reactivity fuel and commercially-available diesel as the high reactivity fuel in an RCCI combustion mode at various load conditions. A modified single-cylinder diesel engine was used for the experiments. Based on previous studies on RCCI combustion by other researchers, early-cycle split-injection strategy of diesel fuel was used to create an in-cylinder fuel reactivity distribution to maintain high thermal efficiency and low NOX and soot emissions. At each load condition, timing and mass fraction of the first diesel injection was held constant, while timing of the second diesel injection was swept over a range where stable combustion could be maintained. Since hydrous ethanol is highly resistant to auto-ignition and has large heat of vaporization, intake air heating was needed to obtain stable operations of the engine. The study shows that 150 proof hydrous ethanol can be used as the low reactivity fuel in RCCI through 8.6 bar IMEP and with ethanol energy fraction up to 75% while achieving simultaneously low levels of NOX and soot emissions. With increasing engine load, less intake heating is needed and EGR is required to maintain low NOX emissions. Future work will look at stability of hydrous ethanol RCCI at higher engine load.

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