In the present study, the high viscosity of the jatropha curcas oil was decreased by preheating. The effect of fuel inlet temperature on performance of diesel engine is evaluated. A single cylinder, four stroke, constant speed, air cooled, direct injection diesel engine developing a power output of 3.7 kW at 1500 rev/min typically used in agricultural sector was tested using neat jatropha oil as fuel. Experiments were conducted for the fuel inlet temperatures of 30°C (J-00), 50°C (J-50), 70°C (J-70), 90°C (J-90) and 110°C (J-110). The acquired data was analyzed for various parameters. The performance of the engine using neat jatropha oil was evaluated and compared with the performance obtained with methyl-ester of Jatropha oil (JME) and diesel fuel. The engine performance parameters with neat jatropha oil were found to be comparable to the performance obtained with mineral diesel and Jatropha methyl ester. The exhaust gas temperature was observed to be lower at all fuel inlet temperature except for fuel inlet temperature of 110°C, compared to the diesel fuel operation. The brake specific fuel consumption (BSFC) of neat jatropha oil vary with fuel inlet temperature. Acceptable thermal efficiencies of the engine were obtained. From the properties of neat jatropha oil and engine test results, it was observed that fuel inlet temperature of 90°C is an optimal preheating temperature for neat jatropha oil and can be substituted for diesel without any engine modification. However, for higher value of fuel inlet temperature above 90°C, performance was observed to be marginally inferior.
Key words: Alternative fuel, biodiesel, jatropha oil, preheating, fuel inlet temperature
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