Development of local technologies is crucial to the sustainable energy agenda in resource-limited countries and the world. Strengthening local green technologies and promoting local utilization will reduce carbon emissions that could be generated during transportation and delivery of green products from one country to another. In this paper we developed bio-oil/diesel blends using a low-tech pyrolysis system designed for smallholder farmers in developing countries and tested their appropriateness for diesel engines using standard ASTM methods. Corn stover retrieved from smallholder farmers in Gayaza, Uganda were pyrolyzed in a batch rocket stove reactor at 350 °C and liquid bio-oil harvested. Bio-oil chemical composition was analyzed by Gas Chromatography equipped with Flame Ionization Detector (GC-FID). Bio-oil/diesel emulsions in ternary concentrations 5%, 10% and 20% bio-oil weight were developed with 1% concentration of sorbitan monolaurate as an emulsifier. The bio-oil/diesel emulsions and distillates had property ranges: specific gravities at 15 °C 827.4–830.7 kg m−3, specific gravities at 20 °C 823.9–827.2 kg m−3, kinematic viscosities at 40 °C 3.01–3.22 mm2/s, initial boiling points 140–160 °C, final boiling points 354–368 °C, and calculated cetane indexes 56.80–57.63. These properties of the bio-oil/diesel blends and their distillates compare well with standard transportation diesel fuel. The emulsion distillates meet the standard requirements for automotive diesel in East Africa.

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Published in Energy Reports, v. 7.

© 2021 The Author(s)

This is an open access article under the CC BY license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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This work was supported by the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) Grant number: RU 2015 GRG-130.

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Datasets related to this article can be found at https://data.mendeley.com/datasets/h47tcy4gd5/1, an open-source online data repository hosted at Mendeley Data (Munu et al., 2021).