Since you’re here, we know the word emissions has come up in conversation at some point in your life. It’s just the way it is. In this day in age, emissions are a hot topic and unfortunately, diesel engines are extremely muzzled when it comes to “out of the box” packages. Diesel engines produce a ton of horsepower and torque but at what cost?
One thing is for certain, these engines breed high levels of NOx and soot particles that are said to be harmful to the environment and people. In an attempt to figure out how to reduce the diesel engine pollutants, the team at Sandia National Laboratories Combustion Research Facility has developed a new fuel injector design that could be a huge change in emissions control.
Ducted Fuel Injection
Sandia’s newest design is called Ducted Fuel Injection. DFI is, in their words, a similar design of a Bunsen burner” like you may have seen used in high school or college. Unlike the traditional design of fuel being sprayed from an injector straight into the combustion chamber, there are ducts just outside the injector openings that the fuel will travel through first.
These ducts are shaped in a way that as the fuel is pumped into them, the air is pulled in from the back of the ducts. The fuel and air mix more thoroughly to get a better air-to-fuel ratio and the aftermath is much cleaner. How much cleaner? Sandia is claiming that soot can be reduced by 50-percent to 100-percent depending on the immediate conditions.
“Typically, when you try to lower either the NOx or the soot output of a diesel engine, the other one will climb. This has been called the Soot/NOx trade-off,” said Chuck Mueller, with Sandia National Laboratories. “DFI’s whole objective is to dismantle the soot issue in the first place. With soot out of the way, this frees up time and effort into lowering NOx levels.”
What this means is that engine manufacturers, if they used the DFI design, would be reducing the soot output of their engines completely allowing them to focus on eliminating the NOx during the combustion. This, in turn, will allow manufacturers to use less after-treatment systems. “After treatment systems are typically large, heavy, and expensive to maintain,” said Christopher Nilsen, another SNL crew member.
Let’s be honest, maintaining those DPF filters and other emissions systems are incredibly expensive and this design to significantly lower their maintenance intervals or even remove them completely. Sandia’s guys are claiming that the DFI design is and will be very beneficial to all diesel engines and can be retrofitted into virtually anything including trains, power plants, and ships.
This is an incredibly interesting topic and I definitely want to stay on this for future follow up. After hearing the details and seeing the DFI design, do you think this is something that will be implemented in the future? Could we see an end to emission control systems because of this? Let me know your thoughts below.