Biodiesel is a desirable alternative fuel for the diesel engine due to its low engine-out soot emission tendency. When blended with petroleum-based diesel fuels, soot emissions generally decrease in proportion to the volume fraction of biodiesel in the mixture. While comparisons of engine-out soot measurements between biodiesel blends and petroleum-based diesel have been widely reported, in-cylinder soot evolution has not been experimentally explored to the same extent. To elucidate the soot emission reduction mechanism of biodiesel, a single-cylinder optically-accessible diesel engine was used to compare the in-cylinder soot evolution when fueled with ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) to that using a B20 biodiesel blend (20% vol/vol biodiesel ASTM D6751-03A). Soot temperature and KL factors are simultaneously determined using a novel two-color optical thermometry technique implemented with a high-speed CMOS color camera having wide-band Bayer filters. The crank-angle resolved data allows quantitative comparison of the rate of in-cylinder soot formation. High-speed spray images show that B20 has more splashing during spray wall impingement than ULSD, distributing rebounding fuel droplets over a thicker annular ring interior to the piston bowl periphery. The subsequent soot luminescence is observed by high-speed combustion imaging and soot temperature and KL factor measurements. B20 forms soot both at low KL magnitudes over large areas between fuel jets, and at high values among remnants of the fuel spray, along its axis and away from the bowl edge. In contrast, ULSD soot luminescence is observed exclusively as pool burning on the piston bowl surfaces resulting from fuel wall impingement. The soot KL factor evolution during B20 combustion indicates earlier and significantly greater soot formation than with ULSD. B20 combustion is also observed to have a greater soot oxidation rate which results in lower engine-out soot emissions. Measured soot temperatures near 1875K were similar for the two fuels for the duration of combustion. For both fuels, higher fuel injection pressure led to lower late-cycle soot KL levels. The trends of soot natural luminosity correlated well with the trends of soot KL factor, suggesting that relatively simple measurements of combustion luminosity may provide somewhat quantitative information about in-cylinder soot formation and oxidation. The apparent rate of heat release (ARHR) analysis under steady skip-fire conditions indicates that B20 combustion is less sensitive to wall temperature than that observed with ULSD due to a lesser degree of pool burning. B20 was found to have both a shorter ignition delay and shorter combustion duration than ULSD.

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