Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics


Scott A Miers


The U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard mandates that by 2022, 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels must be produced on a yearly basis. Ethanol production is capped at 15 billion gallons, meaning 21 billion gallons must come from different alternative fuel sources. A viable alternative to reach the remainder of this mandate is iso-butanol. Unlike ethanol, iso-butanol does not phase separate when mixed with water, meaning it can be transported using traditional pipeline methods. Iso-butanol also has a lower oxygen content by mass, meaning it can displace more petroleum while maintaining the same oxygen concentration in the fuel blend.

This research focused on studying the effects of low level alcohol fuels on marine engine emissions to assess the possibility of using iso-butanol as a replacement for ethanol. Three marine engines were used in this study, representing a wide range of what is currently in service in the United States. Two four-stroke engine and one two-stroke engine powered boats were tested in the tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay, near Annapolis, Maryland over the course of two rounds of weeklong testing in May and September. The engines were tested using a standard test cycle and emissions were sampled using constant volume sampling techniques.

Specific emissions for two-stroke and four-stroke engines were compared to the baseline indolene tests. Because of the nature of the field testing, limited engine parameters were recorded. Therefore, the engine parameters analyzed aside from emissions were the operating relative air-to-fuel ratio and engine speed.

Emissions trends from the baseline test to each alcohol fuel for the four-stroke engines were consistent, when analyzing a single round of testing. The same trends were not consistent when comparing separate rounds because of uncontrolled weather conditions and because the four-stroke engines operate without fuel control feedback during full load conditions. Emissions trends from the baseline test to each alcohol fuel for the two-stroke engine were consistent for all rounds of testing. This is due to the fact the engine operates open-loop, and does not provide fueling compensation when fuel composition changes. Changes in emissions with respect to the baseline for iso-butanol were consistent with changes for ethanol. It was determined iso-butanol would make a viable replacement for ethanol.