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PREPARATION, CHARACTERIZATION AND TESTING OF COCONUT OIL BASED HYBRID FUELS

University of the South Pacific


Faculty of Science and Technology

MASTER OF SCIENCE: STATEMENT OF INTENT

PREPARATION, CHARACTERIZATION AND ENGINE


PERFORMANCE OF COCONUT OIL BASED HYBRID
FUELS.

Author’s Name: Pranil. J. Singh (s11014513)

Project Supervisors: Dr Anirudh Singh


Senior Lecturer in Physics
School of Engineering and Physics
University of the South Pacific
Fiji Islands

Dr. Jagjit Khurma


Associate Professor in Chemistry
Division of Chemistry
University of the South Pacific
Fiji Islands

Research Duration: 18 months (Commencing in semester I 2008)

Date of Submission: April 2009

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PREPARATION, CHARACTERIZATION AND TESTING OF COCONUT OIL BASED HYBRID FUELS

1.1 GENERAL AREA OF STUDY


The emphasis of this thesis will be Renewable Energy particularly Hybrid Fuels. The
specific topic will be ‘Preparation, Characterization and Testing of Coconut Oil based
Hybrid Fuels’.

1.2 IMPORTANCE
The importance of this study is reflected in the recent move by the government of the Fiji
Islands to introduce biofuels in Fiji. This is being implemented through the Technical
Working Group (TWG) in biofuel energy development programme (Department of
Energy – Fiji), and the National Biofuels Energy Dialogue.

The recent increase in world oil prices, and Pacific Nations increasing concern over their
energy security coupled with the growing awareness of the environmental problems
associated with the use of petroleum fuels, has led to the renewed interest on biomass-
based fuels. The motivations for using these fuels are twofold, its environmental benefits
and its impact on the economy. These fuels are non-toxic, renewable sources of energy,
which do not contribute to the net global carbon dioxide build-up. For a country that
heavily relies on imported petroleum oils for its energy needs, but that has an abundant
supply of alternative energy source (in particular coconut), the use of coconut oil will
certainly have a positive impact on the country’s economy in terms of foreign reserves
savings. Their use could also revitalize the rural economies, since a growing demand for
coconut oil will result in increased production in such area. With such incentives, the
need for further research based on locally available resources is both real and significant.

1.3 LITERATURE AND BACKGROUND


Vegetable oils have their own limitations to use in place of diesel due to their high
viscosity. The high viscosity results in poor atomization of the fuel when the oil is
injected into the combustion chamber of a compression ignition (CI) engine. This can
lead to extended ignition delay periods for initial combustion to commence and

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PREPARATION, CHARACTERIZATION AND TESTING OF COCONUT OIL BASED HYBRID FUELS

consequently a reduction in engine performance due to incomplete combustion of the


injected fuel particles [7, 8]. The methods available for reducing the viscosity of vegetable
oils are [5, 6]:
• Pyrolysis
• Microemulsification
• Transesterification process
• Dilution or blending and
• Increasing the fuel temperature
This research will be focused on the technique of microemulsification and blending. The
viscosity of vegetable oils can be reduced through the formation of self organized
[23, 24, 25, 26]
systems called fuel formulations or microemulsion . The vegetable oil is
blended with diesel or ethanol. The stability of this mixture is increased in the presence of
some additives called surface active agents or surfactants. It is generally called hybrid
fuel if the viscosity of vegetable oil is reduced by blending it with diesel or ethanol in the
presence of surfactants

1.3.1 What are Microemulsions?


Two mutually insoluble liquids (usually water and hydrocarbon) can be converted into an
optically transparent and thermodynamically stable emulsion by adding an appropriate
surfactant or a mixture of surfactants. This unique class of optically clear,
thermodynamically stable and usually low viscous solutions, is called microemulsion.
Therefore, microemulsions are defined as transparent, thermodynamically stable colloidal
dispersions in which the diameter of the dispersed-phase particles is less than one-fourth
the wavelength of the visible light. The stability of microemulsions is further increased,
by adding medium chain alcohols which are termed as co-surfactants.

1.3.2 Fuel Properties


In general, a good fuel has a characteristic of low viscosity, high energy content, high
[14]
saponification value and low iodine value . There are a number of physical and
chemical characteristics of a good fuel. Firstly, it has to be efficiently combustible. The
energy produced by its complete combustion is measured by its energy value. For a fuel

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PREPARATION, CHARACTERIZATION AND TESTING OF COCONUT OIL BASED HYBRID FUELS

to burn it has to vaporise to some extent and this is dependant on the viscosity. The
viscosity of an oil is related to the number of carbon atoms in a molecule. As the number
[14]
of carbon atoms increases, it gets progressively oilier, waxier and finally solid . For a
good fuel, the viscosity should be low, which would translate into a more volatile fuel.
The saponification value (SV) is the measure of the average length of carbon chains. The
higher the SV, the lower the average carbon chains. Oils with shorter carbon lengths
readily auto-ignite on injection into the combustion chamber reducing the extent of
ignition lag. The iodine value (IV) is the measure of the unsaturated bonds in the
[19]
hydrocarbon chain . The higher the IV, the higher the potential for the oil to form
gums, coke and varnishes. This is a damaging characteristic of vegetable oils if it were to
[20]
be used in a CI engine . It can lead to build up on the injectors, gumming up piston
[21]
rings, glazing cylinder walls and formation of coke. Previous investigators who
carried out experiments on crude palm oil having an IV of 54 have reported valve
sticking as the main cause of engine performance degradation. The cetane number (CN)
is a measure of the combustion quality of diesel fuel during compression ignition. Cetane
number is actually a measure of a fuel's ignition delay; the time period between the start
[22]
of injection and start of combustion (ignition) of the fuel . The higher the CN, the
lower the self-ignition temperature. Fuels having higher CN are suited for CI engines.
CNO has an order of 60-70 CN, which is higher than petroleum diesel and other common
vegetable oils.
CNO has low IV, high SV and high CN. This makes CNO the most suitable alternative
vegetable oil fuel for diesel engines [5, 7, 8]. The only drawback in terms of fuel properties
is the high viscosity, which this research aims to overcome using the blending and the
microemulsification techniques.

1.4 REASONS FOR INTEREST IN HYBRID FUELS


A lot of research has been carried out using the transesterification process where
biodiesel is produced and used as the alternative to petroleum diesel. The technique of
microemulsification, producing hybrid fuels has the following advantages over biodiesel
and is therefore more economically viable [9]:

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PREPARATION, CHARACTERIZATION AND TESTING OF COCONUT OIL BASED HYBRID FUELS

• Preparation of hybrid fuel is very simple whereas preparation of bio-diesel is


complicated.
• Cost involved in the preparation of hybrid fuel is very small. Therefore, hybrid
fuel is cheaper compared to bio-diesel.
• A big set up is required for the preparation of bio-diesel where as for the
preparation of hybrid fuel a small set up is required.
• Hybrid fuels are spontaneously formed by mixing the vegetable oil with other
constituents.
• Hybrid fuel is prepared in situ whereas bio-diesel is brought from the industry
where it is prepared.
Therefore, transportation cost is also involved in case of bio-diesel where as
transport cost is nil in case of hybrid fuel.
• Hybrid fuel preparation is a time saving process compared to bio-diesel
preparation.

The vegetable oils may be blended to reduce the viscosity with diesel and/or ethanol in
presence of some additives to improve the properties of diesel as well as vegetable oil
with ethanol. The blends of conventional diesel fuel with vegetable oils have also been
called hybrid fuels and microemulsion-based fuels are sometimes also termed “hybrid
fuel”.

1.5 OBJECTIVES
This study is to investigate the technical feasibility and potential for hybrid fuels,
prepared using the microemulsification technique, as an alternative to petroleum diesel in
compression ignition engines by:
a) blending coconut oil (CNO) with ethanol and determining the limit of stability of
the blend at room temperature.
b) using the microemulsification technique to prepare CNO based hybrid fuel
c) determining the relevant fuel properties such as the viscosity, energy content,
density, saponification value, iodine value, cetane number and the melting point.

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PREPARATION, CHARACTERIZATION AND TESTING OF COCONUT OIL BASED HYBRID FUELS

d) Testing the engine performance using the blend and hybrid fuel to find the
efficiency using the various test fuels.

1.6 DISCIPLINES INVOLVED


This research will be a multidisciplinary project involving the expertise and resources of
Physics and Chemistry division. The project will be supervised by Dr Anirudh Singh,
Senior Lecturer in Physics and Dr Jagjit Khurma, Senior Lecturer in Chemistry. This will
ensure expertise from the physical and chemical point of view.

1.7 SKILLS NEEDED TO UNDERTAKE THE RESEARCH


I have completed a postgraduate diploma unit, PH400, Research Project in Physics in
Semester II of 2007, where I undertook a project titled ‘Biofuels for Diesel Generators’.
Pure CNO and Coconut Methyl Ester (Biodiesel) was tested in the project. The viscosity
of CNO was lowered by blending with 10% of ethanol and the efficiency found along
with other important physical and chemical properties. The skills attained from
undertaking that project would be of great help in this current research.

1.8 LOCATION OF RESEARCH


This research will be based in the Laucala Campus of USP with the Physics and
Chemistry divisions.

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PREPARATION, CHARACTERIZATION AND TESTING OF COCONUT OIL BASED HYBRID FUELS

1.9 REFERENCE
[1] Peterson, C.L., 1983. Winter rape oil fuel for diesel engines, Journal of American
Oil Chemists Society, Vol.60, No. 8, pp 1579-1587.

[2] Masjuki, H., 1993. Rapid test to measure performance, emissions and wear of a
diesel engine fueled with palm oil diesel, Journal of American Oil Chemists
Society, Vol.70, No. 10, pp 1021-1025.

[3] Ryan, T.W., 1984. Effects of vegetable oil properties on injection and combustion
in two different diesel engines, Journal of American Oil Chemists Society, Vol.61,
No. 10, pp 1610-1619.

[4] Etherington, Dan, M., and David, H., 1995. Coconut oil as Fuel: Final Report,
Phase IIA. Australian and Pacific Science Foundation.

[5] Calais, P., and Clark, A.R.,‘Waste Vegetable Oil As A Diesel Replacement Fuel’
Jatropha Information Service, D-88138, Weissensberg, Germany, Accessed on
13th November 2007, http://www.jatropha.org/p-oengines/svo-bd-reports.html

[6] Srivastava, A., and Prasad, R., 7 July 1999, ‘Triglycerides-based diesel fuels’,
Department of Chemical Engineering, H. B. Technological Institute, Kanpur,
Accessed on 13th November 2007, http://www.drexel.edu/~ajl23/Biodiesel04.pdf

[7] Korus, R.A., Hoffman, D.S., Bam, N., Peterson, L.C., and Drown, D.C.,
‘Transesterification Process to Manufacture Ethyl Ester of Rape Oil’, Accessed
on 20th November 2007, http://www.journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library

[8] Knothe, G., Dunn, O.R., and Bagby, O.M., ‘The Use of Vegetable Oils As
Alternative To Diesel Fuel’, Darkstar VI, Biodiesel Gear, Collinsville, Illinois,
Accessed on 5th December 2007, http://www.biodieselgear.com/documentation.

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PREPARATION, CHARACTERIZATION AND TESTING OF COCONUT OIL BASED HYBRID FUELS

[9] Reddy, M.C.S., 2006, Hybrid Fuel-Fuel of the Future, Advances in Energy
Research, pp 432-441.

[10] Solly, R., 1982. Coconut oil and coconut-ethanol derivatives as a fuel for diesel
engines. University of the South Pacific, Fiji.

[11] Cruz, I.E., 1977. Alternative Fuels for Internal Combustion Engines, National
Research Council of the Philippines.

[12] Galloway, D.J., and Ward, J.F., Comprehensive testing of modern compression
ignition engines in extended operation on vegetable oil, Natural Philosophy
Research Report No. 64, James Cook University of North Queensland.

[13] Roberts, J., 1996. Environmental Impacts of using Coconut Oil as Fuel in the
South Pacific, University of the South Pacific, Fiji.

[14] Prasad, R., Kumar, M., and Narayan, C., 1999. Coconut oil as a substitute for
fossil fuels: A sustainable resource for the South Pacific, The South Pacific
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[15] Cruz, I.E., 1980. A Status report on alternative Fuel Studies at the College of
Engineering, University of Philippines, Proceedings of the 1980 National
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Australia.

[16] Cloin, J., 2005. Biofuel in the Pacific: Coconut oil as a biofuel in the Pacific
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[17] Herchel, T.C.M., Yutaka, M., Chihiro, O., Seiichi, S., Takao, K., and Nakamura,
H., 2001, The effect of coconut oil and diesel fuel blends on diesel engine

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PREPARATION, CHARACTERIZATION AND TESTING OF COCONUT OIL BASED HYBRID FUELS

performance and exhaust emissions, Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan,


Vol 22, No.3.

[18] Diaz, R.S, Coconut for Clean Air, Asian Institute of Petroleum Studies
Incorporation, Manila, Philippines.

[19] Kopial, T., Pumwa. J., and Turlom, S., “Effects of reducing coconut oil viscosity
on engine performance” (2004), PNG University of Technology, Lae, Papua New
Guinea

[20] Etherington, D., Mahendrarajah, S., and Kennedy, O., ‘Biofuel energy from
Coconut for the South Pacific Economies: Technology, Economics and
Institutions’, New and Alternative Energy Symposium, 3rd Pacific Science
Congress, Sydney 5-9th July 1999.

[21] Yu, C.W., Bari, S., and Lim, T.H., ‘The Effects of Prolonged Use of Vegetable
Oils on Different Engine Parts and Performance’, Proceedings of 4th International
Conference on Mechanical Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, Vol.1, pp 1, 26-28th
December 2001.

[22] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cetane_number
{Accessed on 10th December 2007]

[23] Alander J and T.Warnheim, 1989, Model microemulsions containing vegetable


oils 2. Ionic surfactant Systems, Journal of American Oil Chemists Society,
66(11), 1661-1665.

[24] Goering C.E. and B.Fry, 1984, Engine durability screening test of a diesel oil/soy
oil/alcohol microemulsion fuel, Journal of American Oil Chemists Society, 1984,
61 (10),1627-1632.

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PREPARATION, CHARACTERIZATION AND TESTING OF COCONUT OIL BASED HYBRID FUELS

[25] Neuma de Castro Dantas T., A.C.da Silva and A.A.D.Neto, 2001, New
microemulsion systems using diesel and vegetable oils, Fuel, 80, 75-81.

[26] Ziejewski M., K.R.Kaufman, A.W.Schwab and E.H.Pryde, 1884, Diesel engine
evaluation of a nonionic sunflower oil-aqueous ethanol microemulsion, Journal of
American Oil Chemists Society, 61(10), 1620-1626.

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