The effect of the chamber pressure on combustion of a twin-fluid-atomized spray of straight vegetable oil (VO) in a swirl stabilized combustion system is experimentally studied. A system with high pressure capabilities was developed, and flame and emissions characteristics of VO are investigated at elevated pressures, up to about 5 bars, different heat release rates and atomizing air to liquid ratios (ALR) by mass. An image analysis technique was developed to infer flame and soot characteristics from visual images acquired by a digital camera. An increase in the ALR improved combustion characterized by blue flames, lower CO and NOx emissions, and minimal soot formation. For a given fuel flow rate, an increase in the chamber pressure resulted in smaller volume flames with lower CO levels but higher NOx emissions. Compared to diesel, as pressure increased, straight VO flames produced lower NOx and more voluminous flames characterized by distributed combustion with less soot formation. Overall, straight VO could be atomized and combusted at elevated pressures using the twin-fluid atomizer of the present study, and the resulting VO flames exhibited less sensitivity to chamber pressure variations.

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