Browse Publications Technical Papers 2020-01-0488
2020-04-14

Pre-design Investigation of Resonant Frequency Effects on Gas Exchange Efficiencies of a One-kW Natural-Gas Linear Engine Alternator 2020-01-0488

Performance of a natural gas two-stroke engine incorporated in a 1-kW free-piston oscillating Linear Engine Alternator (LEA) - a household electricity generator - was investigated under different resonant frequencies for pre-design phase purposes. To increase the robustness, power density, and thermal efficiencies, the crank mechanism in free-piston LEA is omitted and all moving parts of the generator operate at a fixed resonant frequency. Flexure springs are the main source of the LEA’s stiffness and the mass-spring dynamics dominates the engine’s speed. The trade-off between the engine’s performance, mass-spring system limits, and power and efficiency targets versus the LEA speed is very crucial and demands a careful investigation specifically at the concept design stages to find the optimum design parameters and operating conditions. CFD modeling was performed to analyze the effects of resonant frequency on the engine’s gas exchange behavior. To take combustion effects into account, a semi-empirical method was employed to obtain the initial and boundary conditions during the gas exchange from experiments and imported into CFD simulation. The numerical results of the gas exchange were validated at the engine speed of 5400 RPM with the experimental results. The semi-empirical method eliminated the complicated combustion simulation and significantly reduced the computational time and well-matched with experiments within 1 % error. Results showed enhanced trapping efficiency of 7.1% per 1000 RPM, and reduced scavenging efficiencies of 5.5% per 1000 RPM as speed engine’s speed increased. Comparison of the trapping and scavenging efficiencies showed an improved fuel/power efficiency equal to about 1.45 % per each 15 Hz increase in the LEA resonant frequency.

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