This study investigates the combustion characteristics of cotton seed fatty acid methyl esters (FAME), with C100 (100% cotton seed biodiesel) and C20 (20% cotton seed biodiesel, 80% ultra-low sulfur diesel #2), in a direct injection diesel engine and compares the results with ultra-low sulfur diesel #2 (ULSD#2). The dynamic viscosity of C100 was found to meet the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard. The lower heating value obtained for C100 was 37.7 MJ/kg, compared to 42.7 MJ/kg for ULSD#2. ULSD#2 and C100 displayed ignition delays of 9.6 crank angle degrees (CAD) and 7 CAD representing 1.14 ms and 0.83 ms respectively and a combustion time of 4ms (35 CAD) at 1400 rpm and 8 bar indicated mean effective pressure (IMEP) (100% load). The apparent heat release of the tested fuels at 8 bar IMEP showed both a premixed and diffusion phase and produced maximum values of 122 and 209 J/CAD for C100 and ULSD#2 respectively, with a decreasing trend occurring with increase in percentage of FAME. The 50% mass burnt (CA50) for 100% biodiesel was found to be 3 CAD advanced, compared with ULSD#2. The maximum total heat flux rates showed a value of 3.2 MW/m2 for ULSD#2 at 8 bar IMEP with a 6% increase observed for C100. Mechanical efficiency of ULSD#2 was 83% and presented a 5.35% decrease for C100, while the overall efficiency was 36% for ULSD#2 and 33% for C100 at 8 bar IMEP. The nitrogen oxides (NOx) for C100 presented an 11% decrease compared with ULSD#2. Unburned hydrocarbons value (UHC) for ULSD#2 was 2.8 g/kWh at 8 bar IMEP, and improved by 18% for C100. The carbon monoxide (CO) emissions for C100 decreased by 6% when compared to ULSD#2 at 3 bar IMEP but were relatively constant at 8 bar IMEP, presenting a value of 0.82 g/kWh for both fuels. The carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions for C100 increased by 1% compared with ULSD#2, at 3 bar IMEP. The soot value for ULSD#2 was 1.5 g/kWh and presented a 42% decrease for C100 at 8 bar IMEP. The results suggest a very good performance of cotton seed biodiesel, even at very high content of 100%, especially on the emissions side that showed decreasing values for regulated and non-regulated species.

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