Evaluation of Formulation Strategies to Eliminate the Biodiesel NOx Effect

James P. Szybist, André L. Boehman, Joshua D. Taylor, Robert L. McCormick

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289 Scopus Citations


In this paper, we explore the efficacy of (1) reducing the iodine value of soy-derived biodiesel fuels through increasing the methyl oleate (methyl ester of oleic acid) content and (2) addition of cetane improvers, as strategies to combat the biodiesel NOx effect: the increase in NOx emissions observed in most studies of biodiesel and biodiesel blends. This is accomplished by spiking a conventional soy-derived biodiesel fuel with methyl oleate or with cetane improver. The impact on bulk modulus of compressibility, fuel injection timing, cetane number, combustion, and emissions were examined. The conventional B20 blend produced a NOx increase of 3-5% relative to petroleum diesel, depending on injection timing. However, by using a B20 blend where the biodiesel portion contained 76% methyl oleate, the biodiesel NOx effect was eliminated and a NOx neutral blend was produced. The bulk modulus of petroleum diesel was measured to be 2% lower than B20, yielding a shift in fuel injection timing of 0.1-0.3 crank angle. The bulk modulus of the high methyl oleate B20 blend was measured to be 0.5% lower than B20, not enough to have a measurable impact on fuel injection timing. Increasing the methyl oleate portion of the biodiesel to 76% also had the effect of increasing the cetane number from 48.2 for conventional B20 to 50.4, but this effect is small compared to the increase to 53.5 achieved by adding 1000 ppm of 2-ethylhexyl nitrate (EHN) to B20. For the particular engine tested, NOx emissions were found to be insensitive to ignition delay, maximum cylinder temperature, and maximum rate of heat release. The dominant effect on NOx emissions was the timing of the combustion process, initiated by the start of injection, and propagated through the timing of maximum heat release rate and maximum temperature.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1109-1126
Number of pages18
JournalFuel Processing Technology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 25 Jun 2005

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-540-36605


  • Biodiesel
  • Bulk modulus
  • Diesel
  • Emissions
  • Fuel formulation
  • Injection timing
  • NO


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