Essential oils are mostly used in aromatherapy and their popularity has grown rapidly for the last decade. However, the industry has a substantial low-value waste stream, because downstream industries require therapeutic-grade oil. These waste stream oils can be used in the transport and agricultural sectors. This study investigated the influence of various essential oil blends on the emission characteristics of a multi-cylinder diesel engine. Orange, eucalyptus and tea tree oil were blended with diesel at 5% and 10% by volume, neat diesel and a 10% waste cooking biodiesel-diesel blend were also tested for comparison. The major constituents of orange oil and eucalyptus oil are limonene and 1,8-cineole respectively, and the main constituents of tea tree oil are terpinen-4-ol, γ-terpinene and α-terpinene. Orange oil contains negligible amounts of oxygen, whereas eucalyptus oil and tea tree oil contain 8.4% and 5.4% respectively. Compared to neat diesel, all the essential oil blends exhibited similar or slightly higher density, similar heating value, lower viscosity, flash point, and cetane number, and higher surface tension. However, only orange oil and eucalyptus oil blends exhibited oxidation stability above the minimum standards. Interestingly, blending eucalyptus oil increased the oxidation stability of diesel. Tea tree oil blends emitted the most carbon monoxide (CO) while orange oil and eucalyptus oil blends emitted the least CO and nitrogen oxide (NOX). Although eucalyptus oil and tea tree oil blends contain similar levels of oxygen, they exhibited opposite NOX emission trends, which might be attributed to the dissimilar and complex bonding of oxygen molecules into the structures. Particle number emission of essential oils were load dependent, however, all essential oil belnds emitted higher particulate mass at all loads.
Reference: Rahman, S. A., T. Van, F. Hossain, M. Jafari, A. Dowell, M. Islam, M. Nabi, A. Marchese, J. Tryner and T. Rainey (2019). “Fuel properties and emission characteristics of essential oil blends in a compression ignition engine.” Fuel 238: 440-453.