A UNIFAC-Based Approach to Gasoline Droplet Evaporation and the Role of Oxygenates on PM Precursor Vaporization

Matthew Ratcliff, Robert McCormick, Stephen Burke, Robert Rhoads, Bret Windom

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

1 Scopus Citations


In some studies, a relationship has been observed between increasing ethanol content in gasoline and increased particulate matter (PM) emissions from vehicles equipped with spark ignition engines. The fundamental cause of the PM increase seen for moderate ethanol concentrations is not well understood. As a result, existing PM indices such as PMI may not be indicative of measured PM emissions for oxygenated biofuel blends. Ethanol features a greater heat of vaporization (HOV) than gasoline and also influences vaporization by altering the liquid and vapor composition throughout the vaporization process. A droplet vaporization model was developed to explore ethanol's effect on the evaporation of aromatic compounds known to be PM precursors. The evolving droplet composition is modeled as a distillation process, with non-ideal interactions between oxygenates and hydrocarbons accounted for using UNIFAC group contribution theory. Detailed hydrocarbon analysis was applied to fuel samples, and used as input for the initial droplet composition. The droplet can be modeled in terms of energy transfer, which in turn provides the transient mass transfer, droplet temperature, and droplet diameter. Model predictions suggest that non-ideal vapor-liquid equilibrium along with an increase in HOV can alter the droplet composition evolution. Results predict that the presence of ethanol causes enrichment of the higher boiling fractions (T90+) in the aromatic components as well as lengthens the droplet lifetime. A simulation of the evaporation process in a transient environment as experienced within an engine cylinder predicts a decrease in mixing time of the heaviest fractions of the fuel prior to spark initiation, possibly explaining observations linking ethanol to PM. A correlation between liquid phase PM precursors and measured PM emissions is shown.

Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages6
StatePublished - 2017
Event10th U.S. National Combustion Meeting - College Park, United States
Duration: 23 Apr 201726 Apr 2017


Conference10th U.S. National Combustion Meeting
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityCollege Park

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Eastern States Section of the Combustion Institute. All rights reserved.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5400-71962


  • ethanol
  • gasoline
  • precursors
  • vaporization


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