Solid deposits from commercially available high-pressure diesel injectors (HPDI) were analyzed to study the solid deposition from diesel fuel during engine operation. The structural and chemical properties of injector deposits were compared to those formed from the thermal oxidative stressing of a diesel fuel range model compound, n-hexadecane at 160°C and 450 psi for 2.5 h in a flow reactor. Both deposits consist of polyaromatic compounds (PAH) with oxygen moieties. The similarities in structure and composition of the injector deposits and n-hexadecane deposits suggest that laboratory experiments can simulate thermal oxidative degradation of diesel in commercial injectors. The formation of PAH from n-hexadecane showed that aromatization of straight chain alkanes and polycondensation of aromatic rings was possible at temperatures as low as 160°C in the presence of oxygen. A mechanism for an oxygen-assisted aromatization of cylcoalkanes is proposed.
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