22 October 2009

An Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) technology for analyzing the dilution of automotive engine oil by fuel has been licensed to Da Vinci Emissions Services—a Texas firm that specializes in combustion engine lubrication and emissions testing.

The licensed invention, known as “Laser-Induced Fluorescence Fiber Optic Probe Measurement of Oil Dilution by Fuel”, was developed by James E. Parks and William P. Partridge of the Fuels, Engines, and Emissions Research Group in ORNL’s Energy and Transportation Science Division. The oil dilution diagnostic grew out of an ongoing CRADA, or cooperative research and development agreement, partnership between ORNL and Cummins. The work is sponsored by the Department of Energy’s Office of Vehicle Technologies.

The device uses fluorescence spectroscopy to determine the amount of fuel dilution in engine oil, which can occur as fuel efficient engines are operated in advanced combustion modes to meet increasingly lower emissions regulations. The condition thins the oil, lowers the lubricating ability, and can lead to higher engine wear, increased oil consumption, and in extreme cases, engine failure. Fuel dilution also is associated with regeneration of diesel particulate filters via in-cylinder post-injection, injection systems, and use of biodiesel fuels.

The ORNL developed fluorescence measurement system provides real-time feedback on the fuel level in oil to engineers so that fuel efficient and low emission engine calibrations can be developed that prevent oil dilution from occurring.

The technique is faster, less expensive, and capable of detecting fuel contamination in lower amounts than other methods, according to ORNL. Conventional techniques require sampling and sending the oil to an analytical lab, resulting in up to two days delay for results.

Da Vinci, founded in 2005 in San Antonio, TX, specializes in internal combustion engine lubrication and emissions testing services and equipment, such as providing engine manufacturers with real-time oil consumption measurements.

Source: Oak Ridge