Alcohol lean burn in heavy duty engines: Achieving 25 bar IMEP with high efficiency in spark ignited operation

Senthil Krishnan Mahendar*, Tara Larsson, Anders Christiansen Erlandsson

*Corresponding author for this work

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Knock is the most crucial limitation in attaining the peak load required at high efficiency in heavy duty (HD) spark ignition (SI) engines. Renewable fuels such as ethanol and methanol have high resistance to autoignition and can help overcome this limitation. To reduce knock and improve efficiency further, dilution can be used to add specific heat capacity and reduce combustion temperature. This work studied diluted combustion and knock characteristics of gasoline, ethanol, and methanol on a HD SI single cylinder engine for a wide load range. Ethanol and methanol displayed excellent knock resistance which allowed a peak gross IMEP of 25.1 and 26.8 bar respectively, compared to gasoline which only reached 8.3 bar at λ=1.4 with a compression ratio of 13. Over 18% increase in gross IMEP was possible for gasoline and ethanol when increasing air excess ratio from 1 to 1.4. Methanol achieved the target gross IMEP at λ=1 and required no spark retard at =1.6. A peak indicated efficiency above 48% was recorded for ethanol and methanol at =1.6 and gross IMEP of approximately 21 bar. At part loads, stable operation was possible until =1.8 for all fuels. Increase in intake temperature showed a marginal improvement in stability but no increase in lean limit. The concept shows promise as diluted combustion of ethanol and methanol reduced knock and achieved diesel baseline load. With optimization, there is potential to improve efficiency further and possible cost savings compared to commercial diesel engines.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Engine Research
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)3313–3324
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Ethanol
  • excess air dilution
  • heavy duty
  • knock
  • methanol


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