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TECHNICAL PAPER

ISSN:1047-3289 J. Air & Waste Manage. Assoc. 60:142148


DOI:10.3155/1047-3289.60.2.142
Copyright 2010 Air & Waste Management Association

Effect of Ethanol-Gasoline Blends on Small Engine Generator


Energy Efficiency and Exhaust Emission
Wen-Yinn Lin, Yuan-Yi Chang, and You-Ru Hsieh
Institute of Environmental Engineering and Management, National Taipei University of Technology,
Taipei City, Taiwan, Republic of China

ABSTRACT
This study was focused on fuel energy efficiency and
pollution analysis of different ratios of ethanol-gasoline
blended fuels (E0, E3, E6, and E9) under different loadings. In this research, the experimental system consisted
of a small engine generator, a particulate matter measurement system, and an exhaust gas analyzer system. Different fuels, unleaded gasoline, and ethanol-gasoline blends
(E0, E3, E6, and E9) were used to study their effects on the
exhaust gas emission and were expressed as thermal efficiency of the small engine generator energy efficiency.
The results suggested that particle number concentration
increased as the engine loading increased; however, it
decreased as the ethanol content in the blend increased.
While using E6 as fuel, the carbon monoxide (CO) concentration was less than other fuels (E0, E3, and E9) for
each engine loading. The average of CO concentration
reduction by using E3, E6, and E9 is 42, 86, and 83%,
respectively. Using an ethanol-gasoline blend led to a
significant reduction in exhaust emissions by approximately 78.7, 97.5, and 89.46% of the mean average values
of hydrocarbons (HCs) with E3, E6, and E9 fuels, respectively, for all engine loadings. Using an ethanol-gasoline
blend led to a significant reduction in exhaust emissions
by approximately 35, 86, and 77% of the mean average
values of nitrogen oxides (NOx) with E3, E6, and E9 fuels,
respectively, at each engine loading. The E6 fuel gave the
best results of the exhaust emissions, and the E9 fuel gave
the best results of the particle emissions and engine performance. The thermal efficiency of the small engine generator increased as the ethanol content in the blend increased and as the engine loading increased.

IMPLICATIONS
The accumulated testing results provide a good basis to
resolve the corresponding pollutant emission from a small
engine generator. By measuring and analyzing changes of
pollutant emission from a small engine generator, effects of
ethanol-gasoline blended fuel and loading on emission
characterization can be determined. Understanding changes
of pollutant emissions while using ethanol-gasoline blended
fuel helps improve the effectiveness of the testing program.
The analyzed results provide useful information for the government to set strategies to more effectively curb pollutant
emissions from a small engine generator.

142 Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association

INTRODUCTION
With higher scale of consumption of nonrenewable fuels,
the quest for an appropriate alternative fuel has gathered
great momentum. The consequence to reduce pollutant
emissions from petroleum-based engines has actuated the
development and testing of several alternative fuels in
recent years.
Alcohols (e.g., ethanol, which is a colorless liquid
with mild characteristic odor and can be produced from
coal, natural gas, and biomass) have a high octane number and can be used as one of the practical alternative
fuels. Furthermore, ethanol has a higher heat of vaporization than gasoline, which means it freezes the air, allows
more mass to be drawn into the cylinder, and increases
the power output. In addition, ethanol has antiknock
characteristics that improve engine efficiency and give
higher compression ratios.
Ethanol contains an oxygen atom; therefore, it can be
regarded as a partially oxidized fuel.1,2 Because of this, it
has a lower heating value and stoichiometric fuel-to-air
ratio than gasoline. As a result, much more fuel is needed
to obtain the same performance when ethanol or ethanolgasoline blends are used.1,3,4 Ethanol has a higher octane
number than gasoline, thus it can lead to operation at
higher compression ratios and therefore improvement in
power output, efficiency, and fuel consumption. Furthermore, ethanol has a high latent heat of vaporization. As a
consequence of low calorific value and high latent heat of
vaporization, engine volumetric efficiency may increase.5
Extensive use of fossil fuels as an energy source leads
to significant amounts of regulation pollutants being produced, including carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons
(HCs), and nitrogen oxides (NOx). The main pollutants
from spark ignition (SI) engine generators are CO, HCs,
NOx, and particulate matter (PM). To reduce these harmful pollutants, an alternative fuel or other reduction emission technologies must be found.
Several studies have been conducted on the usage of
ethanol-gasoline blends as fuel in SI engines. Yu
ksel and
Yu
ksel6 investigated the use of an ethanol-gasoline blend
(E60) as a fuel in a SI engine. In that study, it was found
that using ethanol-gasoline blended fuel reduced the CO
and HC emissions by approximately 80 and 50%, respectively. Moreover, significant decreases in the engine
power were not observed. In another study by El-Emam
and Desoky,7 the combustion of alternative fuels in SI
engines was researched. The results showed that there was
an increase in engine thermal efficiency and decrease in
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Lin, Chang, and Hsieh


NOx and CO emissions when ethanol and methanol fuels
were used. Topgu
l et al.8 investigated the effects of ethanolgasoline blends (E0, E10, E20, E40, E60) and ignition timing
on performance and emissions. The experimental results
showed that the brake torque slightly increased and CO and
HC emissions decreased when an ethanol-gasoline blend
was used. It was also found that blends with ethanol
allowed the compression ratio to increase without
any knock. Arapatsakos et al.9 investigated the behavior
of a small four-stroke engine when mixtures of gasolineethanol and gasoline-methanol were used as fuel. In the
engine tests, 11 test blends ranging from 0 to 100% ethanol with an increment of 10% were used. CO emissions
decreased as ethanol content in fuel increased. Moreover,
HC emissions decreased as ethanol content in fuel increased, but HC emissions significantly increased when
using E90 and E100 fuel. Magnusson et al.10 researched
the regulated HC, CO, and NOx emissions of a two-stroke
chain saw engine using ethanol, gasoline, and ethanolgasoline blends as fuel. The emissions of CO, HCs, and
nitric oxide (NO) were reduced when the ethanol content
was increased, but HC increased when using E85 and
E100 fuels. Schifter et al.11 researched the addition of
ethanol compared with methyl tertiary butyl ether
(MTBE). The results showed that the CO emissions decreased, HC emissions increased, and the change in emissions was not statistically significant for NOx with blends
of 3 6% ethanol.
Although adding ethanol to fuel contributes to a reduction in regulation pollutant emissions, higher nonregulation pollutants could subsequently be emitted. The
research of Zervas et al.12,13 indicated that formaldehyde
exhaust is produced from methanol, ethanol, and MTBE
fuel. Also, the addition of ethanol could produce a significant amount of acetaldehyde. In addition, Zervas et
al.13,14 suggested that organic acid exhaust (e.g., formic
acid, propionic acid, and butyric acid) is slightly enhanced from oxygenated compounds.
General conclusions deduced from the above literature review can be summarized as follows. Ethanol will be
a comely alternative fuel for SI engines, and it can be used
as a pure fuel or as a gasoline additive. Pure ethanol can be
used but requires modifications of the engine design and
fuel system, whereas ethanol-gasoline blends including
ethanol at low percentages do not. Accordingly, the use of
ethanol-gasoline blends in SI engines is more useful than
using ethanol alone.
Isolated power systems serve the electricity demand
of a location by generating power near its point of utilization. These isolated power systems form a subset of the
distributed generation system and include small engine
generation units typically in the capacity of approximately
10 250 kW.15 They are viewed as a means to electrify
remote areas that are located far from centralized power
stations, where grid extension could be uneconomic.16
Although many studies have researched the use of
ethanol-gasoline blends as fuel in SI engines, few have
been carried out on thermal efficiency in small engine
generators running with ethanol. There are two aims of
this study: (1) to determine different ethanol-gasoline
blend rates in terms of emissions for a small engine at
Volume 60 February 2010

different engine loadings, and (2) to experimentally research the influence of thermal efficiency by testing the
engine with different ethanol-gasoline blend rates at different engine loadings.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
The experimental setup and apparatus included three major systems: the engine system, the exhaust gas emission
measurement system, and the particle emission measurement system (Figure 1).
Test Engine
The engine used for this investigation was a four-stroke,
air-cooled, single-cylinder SI engine ran at rated powers of
865, 1730, and 2595 W and at a rated speed of 3600
revolutions per minute (rpm). The specifications of the
test engine are shown in Table 1. In the SI engine used,
the air and fuel are mixed together in the intake manifold
system before entry into the engine cylinder by using a
carburetor.
Test Fuel
The test fuels were unleaded gasoline (E0) and E0-ethanol
blends E3, E6, and E9, where the numbers following E
indicate the volumetric percentage of ethanol (i.e., E3
contains 3% ethanol and 97% E0 by volume). To prevent
phase separation, ethanol with a purity of 99.5% was used
in the tests.17 Moreover, ethanol is entirely miscible with
water in all proportions, whereas the gasoline and water
are immiscible. This may result in blended fuel containing water and cause corrosion problems on the mechanical components.18 Properties of ethanol and gasoline
fuels are shown in Table 2.
Measurements of Gas Emission
In the experiments, the concentrations of CO, HCs, and
NOx for stable running modes in the exhaust gases were
measured online by the BE-1000A multiple exhaust analyzer with precalibration.
Measurements of Particle Emission
Online monitoring of engine exhaust PM was performed
using a Dekati, Ltd. outdoor air electrical low-pressure
impactor (ELPI). Particles from the flue gas were sampled
through a unipolar corona charger. The electric current
carried by the charged particles into each impactor stage
is measured in real time by a sensitive multichannel electrometer. The particle collection into each impactor stage
is dependent on the aerodynamic size of the particles.
Measured current signals are converted to aerodynamic
size distribution using particle size-dependent relations
describing the properties of the charger and the impactor
stages.
Engine Brake Thermal Efficiency
Thermal efficiency is the measure of the efficiency and
completeness of combustion of the fuel, or, more specifically, the ratio of the output or work done by the working
substance in the cylinder in a given time to the input or
heat energy of the fuel supplied during the same time.
Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association 143

Lin, Chang, and Hsieh

Fuel

Exhaust

BE-1000A

Mixing
chamber
HEPA

Flow meter

HEPA
Pump

Pump

HEPA

Engine

Generator

Flow meter

Pump

Mass flow controller (MFC)


Exhaust
Loading

ELPI

Pump

Figure 1. Schematic diagram of the experimental system.

The brake thermal efficiency is computed by the following expression19:


3600B P
m
f LHV b

b,th

(1)

where

(2)

NT
9549.29

(3)

LHV b

BP

i i
LHV i
b

where Qf is the volume flow of fuel (cm3) and b is the


density of the fuel blend (g cm3).
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Characterization of PM Emissions
In the experiment, each sampling lasted 3 min. Figure 2
shows the engine PM emissions when the engine was
fueled with E0, E3, E6, and E9. While using E9 as fuel, the
total number concentration was fewer than with other
fuels (E0, E3, and E6) for each engine loading. At idling (0
W), the total number concentration for E0, E3, E6, and E9
was 2.1 105, 1.4 104, 6.4 102, and 2.2 101
particles/cm3, respectively. At low loading (865 W), the
total number concentration for E0, E3, E6, and E9 is 4.3
Table 1. General properties of the test engine.

where N is the engine speed (rpm) and T is the engine


torque (N m).
The fuel consumption is estimated by measuring the
fuel consumed per unit time and the calculated values of
the density for different fuel blends through the following
equations19:

m
f

3.6Q f p b
t

b p i i
144 Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association

(4)

Items
Engine type
Number of cylinder
Bore stroke
Displacement
Compression ratio
Maximum power
Maximum torque
Valve arrangement
Fuel system

Parameters
Honda GX160, air-cooled, SI engine
1
68 45 mm
163 cm3
8.5:1
4.1 kW (5.5 hp/3600 rpm)
3.61 kgf (2500 rpm)
Overhead valve
Carburetor

(5)
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Lin, Chang, and Hsieh


Table 2. The properties of gasoline and ethanol.
Fuel Property
Formula
Molar C/H ratio
Molecular weight
Latent heating value
Stoichiometric air-to-fuel ratio
Autoignition temperature
Heat of vaporization
Research octane number
Motor octane number
Freezing point
Boiling point
Density

Unit

kg/kmol
MJ/kg
C
kJ/kg

C
C
kg/m3

Gasoline

Ethanol

C8H18
0.445
114.18
44
14.6
257
305
88100
8090
40
27225
765

C2H5OH
0.333
46.07
26.9
9
425
840
108.6
89.7
114
78
785

106, 9.8 105, 4.1 103, and 6.5 101 particles/cm3,


respectively. At high loading (2595 W), the total number
concentration for E0, E3, E6, and E9 is 1.9 107, 6.1
106, 2.4 106, and 1.7 103 particles/cm3, respectively.
These trends are similar to those reported by Burtscher.20
The results suggested that as the load is increased with the
increase of the throttle valve opening to offer enough fuel
to maintain power, the total number concentration is
raised.21,22 The total number concentration is decreased
with the increase of ethanol because the oxygen content
of fuel is raised and better combustion is produced.6
The Effects of Various Fuels on Exhaust
Emissions
Figures 35 show the effect of various fuels on CO, HC,
and NOx emissions, respectively. As seen from Figure 3,
while using E6 as fuel, the CO concentration is less than
other fuels (E0, E3, and E9) for each engine loading. At
idling, the mean average value of CO decreases to 3.3,
0.85, and 0.86% with E3, E6, and E9, respectively, from
5.6% with E0. At low loading, the mean average value of
CO decreases to 3, 0.8, and 0.69% with E3, E6, and E9,

Figure 2. Total number concentration for particles emitted running


on different loading.
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Figure 3. The effect of various fuels on CO emissions.

respectively, from 5.1% with E0. At high loading, the


mean average value of CO decreases to 1.9, 0.5, and 0.7%
with E3, E6, and E9, respectively, from 3.8% with E0. The
emission trend is similar to that reported by Zervas et al.,
Yu
ksel and Yu
ksel, and Liu et al.6,23,24
The results suggested that when ethanol containing
oxygen is mixed with gasoline, the combustion of the
engine becomes better and therefore CO emission is reduced.9 Zervas et al.24 indicated that the decrease of CO
emissions is due not only to dilution of the fuel but is also
because addition of oxygenated compounds promotes the
combustion of CO in the cylinder or during the postcombustion processes. The CO emission trend decreased
when the engine load increased from 0 to 2595 W. The
explanation is that increasing loads on engine generation
leads to an increase in the combustion temperature,
which combined with the high level of excess oxygen at
these loads results in lower CO emissions when compared
with low engine load.25 However, Zervas and Tazerout26
showed that the CO emission trend variation was not
obvious, although the volumetric efficiency increased or
decreased. High CO emissions of the blends might be

Figure 4. The effect of various fuels on HC emissions.


Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association 145

Lin, Chang, and Hsieh

Figure 5. The effect of various fuels on NOx emissions.

caused by low combustion temperature throughout the


cycle, and the thick quenching layer outcome of the high
latent heat of ethanol results in the low oxidation rate of
CO.27
Moreover, one of the crucial parameters that affect
CO emissions is the fuel-to-air ratio. When the engine is
running in rich conditions, CO emission concentrations will increase because there is not abundant oxygen to convert all carbon atoms of fuel into carbon
dioxide (CO2).28 In addition, the leaning effect of ethanol is to increase the air-to-fuel ratio to a higher value
and thus cause the burning to be closer to stoichiometric conditions. As a result, better combustion can be
achieved and the combustion temperature can be
raised.29 Nevertheless, the higher combustion temperature may cause CO emissions to increase because of
dissociation.18
Generally speaking, the unburned HCs in exhaust
usually result in three mechanisms: misfiring, a flamequenching effect, and deposits or oil membranes.28 As
seen from Figure 4, HCs decrease to some extent as the
ethanol added to gasoline increases. However, significant
increases are seen in HC emissions when running with E9
fuels. When using E6 as fuel, the HC concentration is less
than other fuels (E0, E3, and E9) for each engine loading.
At idling, the mean average value of HCs decreases to
25.4, 1.8, and 4.7 parts per million (ppm) with E3, E6, and
E9, respectively, from 105 ppm with E0. At low loading,
the mean average value of HCs decreases to 64.5, 6.9, and
8.2 ppm with E3, E6, and E9, respectively, from 155 ppm
with E0. At high loading, the mean average value of HCs
decreases to 2, 2.9, and 19 ppm with E3, E6, and E9,
respectively, from 145.2 ppm with E0. The emission trend
is similar to that reported by Zervas et al., Yu
ksel and
Yu
ksel, and Liu et al.6,23,24
The results suggest that the reason why HC emissions
increase because the higher ethanol content blends reduce the cylinder temperature because the heat of vaporization of ethanol is higher when compared with gasolineis why the lower temperature causes misfire and/or
partial burn in the regions near the combustion chamber
wall.30 Zervas et al.24 indicated that the addition of an
oxygenated compound improves the combustion of HCs
146 Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association

or their postoxidation. Ethanol can be treated as a partially oxidized HC when it is added to the blended fuel;
therefore, CO and HC emissions decrease.6 In addition,
incremental ethanol additive in the fuel could enhance
the increase in engine volumetric efficiency5; that is,
while the volumetric efficiency increases, the HC emissions decrease.26
Furthermore, the HC emissions correlate closely with
many design and operating variables. Combustion chamber and port system design are two important design
variables, whereas air-to-fuel ratio, engine speed, and load
are main operating parameters. Displacement, combustion chamber shape, bore diameter, stroke, and compression ratio influence the surface-to-volume ratio and HC
emissions. The higher surface-to-volume and compression ratios resulted in the higher HC emissions.18 In addition, during the compression and combustion stroke,
some unburned mixture promotes the small crevices
within the cylinder because of the pressure rise through
compression by the piston motion and flame propagation. A section of this trapped, unburned mixture will
derive from the crevices during the latter part of the
expansion stroke as the cylinder pressure decreases. The
unburned mixture released following the pass of the main
flame may get oxidized completely or fractionally
through the post-flame oxidation process or it may continue to contribute to unburned HC emissions.31
In Figure 5, as the ethanol content in the blend increases, NOx decreases. When using E6 as fuel, the NOx
concentration is fewer than other fuels (E0, E3, and E9)
for each engine loading. At idling, the mean average value
of NOx decreases to 47, 10, and 10 ppm with E3, E6, and
E9 fuels, respectively, from 91 ppm with E0 fuel. At low
loading, the mean average value of NOx decreases to 119,
20, and 20 ppm with E3, E6, and E9 fuels, respectively,
from 170 ppm with E0 fuel. At high loading, the mean
average value of NOx decreases to 607, 143, and 307 ppm
with E3, E6, and E9 fuels, respectively, from 834 ppm with
E0 fuel. These trends are similar to that reported by Zervas
et al., Yu
ksel and Yu
ksel, and Liu et al.6,23,24 The formation of NOx in SI engines relies on the temperature of the
combustion products while excess O2 is present.26 The
experimental results suggested that because ethanol has a
higher heat of vaporization relative to that of base gasoline, the mixtures temperature at the end of the intake
stroke decreases and finally causes the combustion temperature to decrease. As a result, engine-out NOx emissions decrease.3 Zervas et al.24 showed that the annexing
of ethanol decreases exhaust NOx because of the addition
of oxygenated compounds. Zervas and Tazerout26 also
indicated that the increase of volumetric efficiency causes
the increase of NOx emissions. Moreover, the effect of
adding more oxygenates to the fuel tended to produce a
small increase in NOx emissions while using E9 as fuel.11
In addition, the ignition timing has a substantial
effect on the emission and performance of SI engines.8,3234 Retarding the ignition timing causes a reduction in NOx formation during the combustion process
that is mostly due to the drop in the peak temperature.
Advancing the ignition timing to some extent usually
causes the combustion process to occur near the top dead
center, resulting in increased NOx emissions and raising
Volume 60 February 2010

Lin, Chang, and Hsieh


the gas temperature inside of the cylinder.3234 Furthermore, advancing the ignition timing for a lean mixture
makes the combustion process occur earlier in the cycle,
which causes higher peak cylinder pressures and consequently higher rates of NOx formation.26,32
The factors affecting the temperature of combustion
products and NOx emissions also involve the compression
ratio, internal exhaust gas recirculation, intake temperature, and fuel composition.31,35
The Effects of Various Fuels on Thermal
Efficiency and Fuel Consumption
Figures 6 and 7 present the effect of using ethanolgasoline blends on brake thermal efficiency and fuel
consumption, respectively. As shown in Figures 6 and 7,
b.th increases as the percentage of ethanol increases and
fuel consumption decreases as the percentage of ethanol
increases because the combustion of the engine improves.
While using E9 as fuel, b.th is greater than with other
fuels (E0, E3, and E6) for low and high loading. At low
loading, the b.th for E0, E3, E6, and E9 is 14.5, 15, 15.7,
and 16% of the mean average values, respectively. At high
loading, the b.th for E0, E3, E6, and E9 is 25.1, 26.4, 27,
and 27.4% of the mean average values, respectively. These
trends are similar to those reported by Liu et al.,23 but
partially different from that reported by Ajav.36
The lower heating value of ethanol-gasoline blends
causes some incremental increase in fuel consumption of
the engine when used without any modification. The
increase chiefly depends on the percentage of ethanol.
The increase in fuel consumption because of the lower
heating value of ethanol-gasoline blends may be revised
by increasing the compression ratio.3,18
The results suggest that as the percentage of ethanol
increases in the fuel blend, the delay period increases or
the crank angle at which maximum pressure is achieved
increases. The vaporization of fuel continues during the
compression stroke. This tends to decrease the temperature of the working charge and increase the quantity of
vapor in the working charge.19
Furthermore, the research octane number of ethanol
is higher than gasoline; therefore, this can improve the
antiknock property of the engine. Hence, when using

Figure 6. The effect of ethanol addition on brake thermal efficiency.


Volume 60 February 2010

Figure 7. The effect of ethanol addition on fuel consumption.

ethanol as the fuel, the thermal efficiency and engine


power output can be improved by increasing the compression ratio.28 Another parameter that influences emission and thermal efficiency is swirl. Swirl affects mean
and turbulent species transport and enhances wall heat
transfer. Nevertheless, with the higher wall heat transfer
rate, less homogeneous temperature and composition
fields for the high-swirl state cause delayed ignition, lower
peak temperature, and higher pollutant emissions. The
higher pollutant emissions mean lower engine efficiency.37
CONCLUSIONS
It can be concluded from the results of this study that a
low-fraction ethanol-gasoline blend can be used in small
SI engine generators without any modifications. By measuring and analyzing changes of pollutant emissions from
a small engine generator, the effects of ethanol-gasoline
blended fuel and loading on emission characterization
can be determined.
Using an ethanol-gasoline blend leads to a significant
reduction in exhaust emissions by approximately 42, 86,
and 83% of the mean average values of CO with E3, E6,
and E9 fuels, respectively, for all engine loadings. Using
an ethanol-gasoline blend leads to a significant reduction
in exhaust emissions by approximately 79, 98, and 89% of
the mean average values of HCs with E3, E6, and E9 fuels,
respectively, for all engine loadings. Using an ethanolgasoline blend leads to a significant reduction in exhaust
emissions by approximately 35, 86, and 77% of the mean
average values of NOx with E3, E6, and E9 fuels, respectively, at each engine loading.
Ethanol addition results in an increase in brake thermal efficiency and a decrease in fuel consumption. The E6
fuel gave the best results for exhaust emissions, and the E9
fuel gave the best results for particle emissions and engine
performance.
The analyzed results can provide useful information
for the government to set strategies to more effectively
curb pollutant emissions from small engine generators.
Finally, this study emphasizes that to present a complete
picture on the application of ethanol-gasoline blended
fuel in a small engine generator extensions of this kind of
research (e.g., PM component analysis and engine test
Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association 147

Lin, Chang, and Hsieh


under the different air-to-fuel ratios) need be further
investigated.
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About the Authors


Wen-Yinn Lin is an associate professor, Yuan-Yi Chang is a
doctoral student, and You-Ru Hsieh is a graduate student
in the Institute of Environmental Engineering and Management at the National Taipei University of Technology.
Please address correspondence to: Wen-Yinn Lin, Institute
of Environmental Engineering and Management, National
Taipei University of Technology 1, Section 3, Chung-hsiao
E. Road, Taipei 10608, Taiwan, Republic of China; phone:
886-2-27712171, ext. 4131; fax: 886-2-27781598;
e-mail: wylin@ntut.edu.tw.

Volume 60 February 2010

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