Use of Carbon Dots to Boost Energy Content of Biodiesel to Enable Next-Generation Hybrid Heavy Vehicles for Ground Transportation While Improving Safety

Increasing energy demands due to rapid industrialization and urbanization, stringent emission limits, and depleting sources of conventional fossil fuels urges the scientific community in search of renewable, reliable, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly alternative and sustainable options. In the transportation sector, this has translated as both electrification and increased adoption of biofuel. The electrification seems sufficient for light duty vehicles but for heavy duty vehicles, hybrid model will be the way forward during technology transition. Thus, biofuel, particularly biodiesel, has become a center of research initiatives as a replacement or a supplement to conventional petroleum-based fossil fuels [1-6]. Biodiesel was the second most produced and consumed biofuel in the United States in 2021 and accounted for about 11% and 12% of total U.S. biofuels production and consumption respectively [7]. Also, 1.64 billion gallons of biodiesel were produced in 2021 of which Soybean oil-based biodiesel contributes the most to this production (around 68%). Biodiesel can be blended and used in many different concentrations, including B100 (pure biodiesel), B20 (20% biodiesel, 80% petroleum diesel), B5 (5% biodiesel, 95% petroleum diesel), and B2 (2% biodiesel, 98% petroleum diesel). B20 is a common biodiesel blend in the United States. Biodiesel advantages include low or no sulfur content, no aromatics content, high flash point, inherent lubricity, biodegradability, reduction of most regulated exhaust emissions, miscibility with petro-diesel in all blend ratios and compatibility with the existing fuel distribution infrastructure [4-6]. Technical challenges associated with biodiesel include reduction of NOx exhaust emissions, improvement in specific energy density and improvement of oxidative stability and cold flow properties. Achieving the same energy content as petro-diesel is a major challenge which will enable the widespread adoption of biodiesel for heavy duty diesel vehicles as biodiesel typically have ~10% lower energy content compared to their Petro-diesel counterpart. Carbon nanoparticles have emerged as a unique and potential addition to current fuel additives used in biodiesel and diesel fuels, resulting in lower emissions and improved engine performance [5-6]. Carbon nanoparticles offer unique features (such as greater surface area/volume ratio, higher combustion rate, increased energy density and so on) that make them ideal for various engineering purposes. In addition, nanometric materials may achieve the necessary chemical and thermal properties standard. Combining different nanoparticles with biodiesel provided evidence of enhancement in engine performance and reduce pollution. In addition, Carbon nanoparticles’ prospects as fire safety additives has been explored in the previous works [8-15]. However, the inclusion of Carbon nanoparticles is limited by their adverse effects on environment and health. Thus, biocompatible and bio-degradable carbon nanoparticles come into play for commercial use of nanoadditives for biodiesel. Hence, the focus of this project will be evaluating the biocompatible and bio-degradable carbon nanoparticles (e.g.: Carbon dots) as fuel additive for biodiesel particularly enhancing the energy content of biodiesel without compromising the positive benefits associated of using biodiesel. The work will also include technology transfer issues like testing, tuning, and validating the fuel additive mixture performance when combined with existing fuel additives, low and high temperature storage and operation, and other performance specifications as needed for commercial introduction.


    • English


    • Status: Active
    • Funding: $181499
    • Contract Numbers:


    • Sponsor Organizations:

      Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

      University Transportation Centers Program
      Department of Transportation
      Washington, DC  United States  20590
    • Managing Organizations:

      Mid-America Transportation Center

      University of Nebraska-Lincoln
      2200 Vine Street, PO Box 830851
      Lincoln, NE  United States  68583-0851
    • Performing Organizations:

      University of Iowa, Iowa City

      102 Church Street
      Iowa City, IA  United States  52242
    • Principal Investigators:

      Ratner, Albert

    • Start Date: 20230601
    • Expected Completion Date: 20240731
    • Actual Completion Date: 0
    • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers Program

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01908394
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: Mid-America Transportation Center
    • Contract Numbers: 69A3552348307
    • Files: UTC, RIP
    • Created Date: Feb 19 2024 5:07PM