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Cetane number

Cetane number
Cetane number or CN is a measurement of the combustion quality of diesel fuel during compression ignition. Thus,
it is the approximate equivalent of octane rating for gasoline (petrol). The CN is an important factor in determining
the quality of diesel fuel, but not the only one; other measurements of diesel's quality include (but are not limited to)
density, lubricity, cold-flow properties and sulphur content.[1]

Definition
Cetane number or CN is a measure of a fuel's ignition delay, the time period between the start of injection and the
first identifiable pressure increase during combustion of the fuel. In a particular diesel engine, higher cetane fuels
will have shorter ignition delay periods than lower cetane fuels. Cetane numbers are only used for the relatively light
distillate diesel oils. For heavy (residual) fuel oil two other scales are used CCAI and CII.
In short, the higher the cetane number the more easily the fuel will combust in a compression setting (such as a
diesel engine). The characteristic diesel "knock" occurs when the first portion of fuel that has been injected into the
cylinder suddenly ignites after an initial delay. Minimizing this delay results in less unburned fuel in the cylinder at
the beginning and less intense knock. Therefore higher-cetane fuel usually causes an engine to run more smoothly
and quietly. This does not necessarily translate into greater efficiency, although it may in certain engines.

Typical values
Generally, diesel engines operate well with a CN from 40 to 55. Fuels with higher cetane number have shorter
ignition delays, providing more time for the fuel combustion process to be completed. Hence, higher speed diesel
engines operate more effectively with higher cetane number fuels.
In Europe, diesel cetane numbers were set at a minimum of 38 in 1994 and 40 in 2000. The current standard for
diesel sold in European Union, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland is set in EN 590, with a minimum cetane index of
46 and a minimum cetane number of 51. Premium diesel fuel can have a cetane number as high as 60.[2]
In North America, most states adopt ASTM D975 as their diesel fuel standard and the minimum cetane number is set
at 40, with typical values in the 42-45 range. Premium diesels may or may not have higher cetane, depending on the
supplier. Premium diesel often use additives to improve CN and lubricity, detergents to clean the fuel injectors and
minimize carbon deposits, water dispersants, and other additives depending on geographical and seasonal
needs.Wikipedia:Citation needed. California diesel fuel has a minimum cetane of 53.[3]

Additives
Alkyl nitrates (principally 2-ethylhexyl nitrate[4]) and di-tert-butyl peroxide are used as additives to raise the cetane
number.

Alternative fuels
Biodiesel from vegetable oil sources have been recorded as having a cetane number range of 46 to 52, and animal-fat
based biodiesels cetane numbers range from 56 to 60.[5] Dimethyl ether is a potential diesel fuel as it has a high
cetane rating (55-60) and can be produced as a biofuel.

Cetane number

Chemical relevance
Cetane is a chemical compound, alkane (named hexadecane after IUPAC rules; chemical formula n-C16H34),
molecules of which are un-branched and with open chain. Cetane ignites very easily under compression, so it was
assigned a cetane number of 100, while alpha-methyl naphthalene was assigned a cetane number of 0. All other
hydrocarbons in diesel fuel are indexed to cetane as to how well they ignite under compression. The cetane number
therefore measures how quickly the fuel starts to burn (auto-ignites) under diesel engine conditions. Since there are
hundreds of components in diesel fuel, with each having a different cetane quality, the overall cetane number of the
diesel is the average cetane quality of all the components (strictly speaking high-cetane components will have
disproportionate influence, hence the use of high-cetane additives).

Measuring cetane number


Accurate measurements of the cetane number are rather difficult, as it requires burning the fuel in a rare diesel
engine called a Cooperative Fuel Research (CFR) engine, under standard test conditions. The operator of the CFR
engine uses a hand-wheel to increase the compression ratio (and therefore the peak pressure within the cylinder) of
the engine until the time between fuel injection and ignition is 2.407ms. The resulting cetane number is then
calculated by determining which mixture of cetane (hexadecane) and isocetane (2,2,4,4,6,8,8-heptamethylnonane)
will result in the same ignition delay.

Ignition Quality Tester (IQT)


Another reliable method of measuring the derived cetane number (DCN) of diesel fuel is the Ignition Quality Tester
(IQT). This instrument applies a simpler, more robust approach to CN measurement than the CFR. Fuel is injected
into a constant volume combustion chamber at approximately 575C and 310 psi. The time between the start of
injection and the recovery of the combustion chamber pressure to 310 psi is defined as the ignition delay. This
measured ignition delay is then used to calculate the DCN of the fuel. The fuel's DCN is then calculated using an
empirical inverse relationship to ignition delay. Because of the reproducibility, material cost, and speed of the IQT,
this has been the definitive source for DCN measurements of fuels for since the late 2000s. [6] [7] [8]

Fuel ignition tester


Another reliable method of measuring the derived cetane number of diesel fuel is the Fuel Ignition Tester (FIT). This
instrument applies a simpler, more robust approach to CN measurement than the CFR. Fuel is injected into a
constant volume combustion chamber in which the ambient temperature is approximately 575C. The fuel
combusts, and the high rate of pressure change within the chamber defines the start of combustion. The ignition
delay of the fuel can then be calculated as the time difference between the start of fuel injection and the start of
combustion. The fuel's derived cetane number can then be calculated using an empirical inverse relationship to
ignition delay.

Cetane index
Another method that fuel-users control quality is by using the cetane index (CI), which is a calculated number based
on the density and distillation range of the fuel. There are various versions of this, depending on whether metric or
Imperial units are used, and how many distillation points are used. These days most oil companies use the '4-point
method', ASTM D4737, based on density, 10% 50% and 90% recovery temperatures. The '2-point method' is defined
in ASTM D976, and uses just density and the 50% recovery temperature. This 2-point method tends to overestimate
cetane index and is not recommended. Cetane index calculations can not account for cetane improver additives and
therefore do not measure total cetane number for additized diesel fuels. Diesel engine operation is primarily related
to the actual cetane number and the cetane index is simply an estimation of the base (unadditized) cetane number.

Cetane number

Industry standards
The industry standards for measuring cetane number are ASTM D-613 (ISO 5165) for the CFR engine, D-6890 for
the IQT, and D-7170 for the FIT.

References
[1] Werner Dabelstein, Arno Reglitzky, Andrea Schtze and Klaus Reders "Automotive Fuels" in Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial
Chemistry, 2007, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim.
[2] bosch.de (http:/ / rb-k. bosch. de/ en/ powerconsumptionemissions/ dieselsysteme/ service/ faqs. html) (German)
[3] http:/ / www. arb. ca. gov/ enf/ fuels/ dieselspecs. pdf
[4] dorfketal.com (http:/ / www. dorfketal. com/ additivesphlox. htm)
[5] biodiesel.org (http:/ / www. biodiesel. org/ resources/ reportsdatabase/ reports/ gen/ 19940101_gen-297. pdf)
[6] Heyne, Kirby, Boehman, Energy & Fuels, 2009. DOI: 10.1021/ef900715m
[7] Stephen Dooley, Sang Hee Won, Joshua Heyne, Tanvir I. Farouk, Yiguang Ju, Frederick L. Dryer, Kamal Kumar, Xin Hui, Chih-Jen Sung,
Haowei Wang, Matthew A. Oehlschlaeger, Venkatesh Iyer, Suresh Iyer, Thomas A. Litzinger, Robert J. Santoro, Tomasz Malewicki, Kenneth
Brezinsky, The experimental evaluation of a methodology for surrogate fuel formulation to emulate gas phase combustion kinetic phenomena,
Combustion and Flame, 2012, http:/ / dx. doi. org/ 10. 1016/ j. combustflame. 2011. 11. 002.
[8] Stephen Dooley, Sang Hee Won, Marcos Chaos, Joshua Heyne, Yiguang Ju, Frederick L. Dryer, Kamal Kumar, Chih-Jen Sung, Haowei
Wang, Matthew A. Oehlschlaeger, Robert J. Santoro, Thomas A. Litzinger, A jet fuel surrogate formulated by real fuel properties,
Combustion and Flame, 2010, http:/ / dx. doi. org/ 10. 1016/ j. combustflame. 2010. 07. 001.

Further reading
John B. Heywood (1988). Internal Combustion Engine Fundamentals. McGraw Hill. ISBN0-07-100499-8.
Keith Owen, Trevor Coley SAE (1995). Automotive Fuels Reference Book. ISBN1-56091-589-7.

External links
Article by Bruce Hamilton (http://yarchive.net/car/cetane_number.html)
Explanation of Cetane from BP (http://www.bp.com/sectiongenericarticle.do?categoryId=4005623&
contentId=7009145)

Article Sources and Contributors

Article Sources and Contributors


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