Fuel property put to the test


Sandia postdoc receives SAE Excellence in Oral Presentation Award for phi-sensitivity research

Understanding the fundamentals of phi-sensitivity, a key fuel property that represents how the autoignition reactivity of the fuel varies with the fuel/air equivalence ratio, will help us increase the efficiency and facilitate the development of practical low-temperature gasoline combustion engines, according to research conducted at Sandia’s Combustion Research Facility.

Led by Sandia postdoctoral appointee Dario Lopez Pintor, the research highlights how low-temperature gasoline combustion can lead to substantial efficiency improvements to reduce fuel consumption by 30% compared to conventional gasoline engines, and the importance of phi-sensitivity for making this type of combustion work well. Dario was recognized for his work at the 2019 SAE World Congress.

He received an SAE Excellence in Oral Presentation Award for his paper, “Phi-Sensitivity for LTGC Engines: Understanding the Fundamentals and Tailoring Fuel Blends to Maximize This Property.” “The paper identifies the fundamental chemical reactions responsible for phi-sensitivity,” Dario said. “The paper examines how phi-sensitivity behaves when varying pressure, temperature, concentration of fuel and concentration of oxygen.”

Funded by Co-Optima (an R&D collaboration between DOE, nine national laboratories, several universities and industry organizations), the work was conducted in conjunction with John Dec, Senior Scientist and principal investigator of the low-temperature gasoline combustion laboratory in Sandia’s Combustion Research Facility, and former Sandia postdoctoral appointee Gerald Gentz.

The research shows that it is possible to design a regulation-compliant, gasoline-like fuel blend that simultaneously increases the phi-sensitivity and the octane number, to make an improved fuel suitable for both LTGC and modern spark-ignition engines, something that many automotive researchers thought might not be possible prior to the team’s work.

The work can help other researchers define the adequate operating conditions to take advantage of the phi-sensitivity of a fuel, and it can inform future research on fuel development.

Lab News article