All internal combustion engines generate power by creating explosions using fuel and air. These explosions occur inside the engine's cylinders and push the pistons down, which turns the crankshaft. Some of the power thus produced is used to prepare the cylinders for the next explosion by forcing the exhaust gases out of the cylinder, drawing in air (or fuel-air mixture in non-diesel engines), and compressing the air or fuel-air mixture before the fuel is ignited.
Fig 1. Working of four stroke engine.
There are several differences between diesel engines and non-diesel engines. Nondiesel engines combine a fuel mist with air before the mixture is taken into the cylinder, while diesel engines inject fuel into the cylinder after the air is taken in and compressed. Non-diesel engines use a spark plug to ignite the fuel-air mixture, while diesel engines use the heat created by compressing the air in the cylinder to ignite the fuel, which is injected into the hot air after compression. In order to create the high temperatures needed to ignite diesel fuel, diesel engines have much higher compression ratios than
Exhaust Gas Recirculation
gasoline engines. Because diesel fuel is made of larger molecules than gasoline, burning diesel fuel produces more energy than burning the same volume of gasoline. The higher compression ratio in a diesel engine and the higher energy content of diesel fuel allow diesel engines to be more efficient than gasoline engines. 1.1. Formation of Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) The same factors that cause diesel engines to run more efficiently than gasoline engines also cause them to run at a higher temperature. This leads to a pollution problem, the creation of nitrogen oxides (NOx). You see, fuel in any engine is burned with extra air, which helps eliminate unburned fuel from the exhaust. This air is approximately 79% nitrogen and 21% oxygen. When air is compressed inside the cylinder of the diesel engine, the temperature of the air is increased enough to ignite diesel fuel after it is ignited in the cylinder. When the diesel fuel ignites, the temperature of the air increases to more than 1500F and the air expands pushing the piston down and rotating the crankshaft.
Fig 2. NOx formation zone.
Exhaust Gas Recirculation
Generally the higher the temperature, the more efficient is the engine 1. Good Performance 2. Good Economy Some of the oxygen is used to burn the fuel, but the extra is supposed to just pass through the engine unreacted. The nitrogen, since it does not participate in the
combustion reaction, also passes unchanged through the engine. When the peak temperatures are high enough for long periods of time, the nitrogen and oxygen in the air combines to form new compounds, primarily NO and NO2. These are normally collectively referred to as “NOx”.
1.2. Problems of NOx Nitrogen oxides are one of the main pollutants emitted by vehicle engines. Once they enter into the atmosphere, they are spread over a large area by the wind. When it rains, water then combines with the nitrogen oxides to form acid rain. This has been known to damage buildings and have an adverse effect on ecological systems. Too much NOx in the atmosphere also contributes to the production of SMOG. When the sunrays hit these pollutants SMOG is formed. NOx also causes breathing illness to the human lungs.
1.3. EPA Emission Standards Since 1977, NOx emissions from diesel engines have been regulated by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). In October 2002, new NOx standards required the diesel engine industry to introduce additional technology to meet the new standards
The EPA has regulated heavy duty diesel engines since the 1970s. The following chart shows the trend to ever-lower emissions. Understanding the details of the chart is not of interest to most truckers. Even though the emissions standards become increasingly more difficult to meet, the diesel...