Distillation-Based Droplet Modeling of Non-Ideal Oxygenated Gasoline Blends: Investigating the Role of Droplet Evaporation on PM Emissions

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 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. Ethanol features a greater heat of vaporization (HOV) than gasoline and also influences vaporization by altering the liquid and vapor composition throughout the distillation 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. Predicted composition and distillation curves were validated by experiments. Detailed hydrocarbon analysis was applied to fuel samples and to distillate fractions, and used as input for the initial droplet composition. With composition calculated throughout the distillation, the changing HOV and other physical properties can be found using reference data. The droplet can thus 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.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number2017-01-0581
Pages (from-to)69-81
Number of pages13
JournalSAE International Journal of Fuels and Lubricants
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, SAE International. All rights reserved.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5400-67616


  • distillation
  • ethanol
  • heat of vaporization
  • particle emissions
  • spark-ignition engine


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