Exploring the Relationship Between Octane Sensitivity and Heat-of-Vaporization

Robert McCormick, Matthew Ratcliff, Bradley Zigler, C. Sluder, James Szybist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus Citations


The latent heat-of-vaporization (HoV) of blends of biofuel and hydrocarbon components into gasolines has recently experienced expanded interest because of the potential for increased HoV to increase fuel knock resistance in direct-injection (DI) engines. Several studies have been conducted, with some studies identifying an additional anti-knock benefit from HoV and others failing to arrive at the same conclusion. Consideration of these studies holistically shows that they can be grouped according to the level of fuel octane sensitivity variation within their fuel matrices. When comparing fuels of different octane sensitivity significant additional anti-knock benefits associated with HoV are sometimes observed. Studies that fix the octane sensitivity find that HoV does not produce additional anti-knock benefit. New studies were performed at ORNL and NREL to further investigate the relationship between HoV and octane sensitivity. Three fuels were formulated for the ORNL study with matched RON and octane sensitivity, but with differing HoV. Experiments with these fuels in a 1.6-liter GTDI engine showed that the fuels exhibited very similar combustion phasing under knock-limited spark advance (KLSA) conditions. Fuels having a range of RON, octane sensitivity, and HoV were tested at NREL in a single-cylinder GDI engine under conditions where octane sensitivity has little effect on knock resistance. KLSA was found to be well correlated with RON. These results reinforce the concept that HoV anti-knock effects can be viewed as a contributor to octane sensitivity. From this viewpoint, HoV effects manifest themselves as increases in octane sensitivity.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number2016-01-0836
Pages (from-to)80-90
Number of pages11
JournalSAE International Journal of Fuels and Lubricants
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2016 SAE International.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5400-65400


  • biofuels
  • heat-of-vaporization
  • hydrocarbons
  • octane sensitivity


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