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Technical Paper

Lean Burn Natural Gas Operation vs. Stoichiometric Operation with EGR and a Three Way Catalyst

Exhaust Emissions from lean burn natural gas engines may not always be as low as the potential permits, especially engines with open loop lambda control. These engines can produce much higher emissions than a comparable diesel engine without exhaust gas after treatment. Even if the engine has closed loop lambda control, emissions are often unacceptably high for future emission regulations. A three way catalyst is, today, the best way to reduce hazardous emissions. The drawback is that the engine has to operate with a stoichiometric mixture and this leads to; higher heat losses, higher pumping work at low to medium loads, higher thermal stress on the engine and higher knock tendency (requiring lower compression ratio, and thus lower brake efficiency). One way to reduce these drawbacks is to dilute the stoichiometric mixture with EGR. This paper compares lean burn operation with operation at stoichiometric conditions diluted with EGR, and using a three way catalyst.
Technical Paper

The Potential of Using the Ion-Current Signal for Optimizing Engine Stability - Comparisons of Lean and EGR (Stoichiometric) Operation

Ion current measurements can give information useful for controlling the combustion stability in a multi-cylinder engine. Operation near the dilution limit (air or EGR) can be achieved and it can be optimized individually for the cylinders, resulting in a system with better engine stability for highly diluted mixtures. This method will also compensate for engine wear, e.g. changes in volumetric efficiency and fuel injector characteristics. Especially in a port injected engine, changes in fuel injector characteristics can lead to increased emissions and deteriorated engine performance when operating with a closed-loop lambda control system. One problem using the ion-current signal to control engine stability near the lean limit is the weak signal resulting in low signal to noise ratio. Measurements presented in this paper were made on a turbocharged 9.6 liter six cylinder natural gas engine with port injection.
Technical Paper

Hydrogen Addition For Improved Lean Burn Capability of Slow and Fast Burning Natural Gas Combustion Chambers

One way to extend the lean burn limit of a natural gas engine is by addition of hydrogen to the primary fuel. This paper presents measurements made on a one cylinder 1.6 liter natural gas engine. Two combustion chambers, one slow and one fast burning, were tested with various amounts of hydrogen (0, 5, 10 and 15 %-vol) added to natural gas. Three operating points were investigated for each combustion chamber and each hydrogen content level; idle, part load (5 bar IMEP) and 13 bar IMEP (simulated turbocharging). Air/fuel ratio was varied between stoichiometric and the lean limit. For each operating point, a range of ignition timings were tested to find maximum brake torque (MBT) and/or knock. Heat-release rate calculations were made in order to assess the influence of hydrogen addition on burn rate. Addition of hydrogen showed an increase in burn rate for both combustion chambers, resulting in more stable combustion close to the lean limit.
Technical Paper

Cylinder to Cylinder and Cycle to Cycle Variations in a Six Cylinder Lean Burn Natural Gas Engine

The cylinder to cylinder and cycle to cycle variations were measured in a production type Volvo natural gas engine. Cylinder pressure was measured in all six cylinders. Emission measurements were performed individually after all cylinders, and commonly after the turbocharger. Measurements (ECE R49 13-mode) were performed with different spark gap and two different locations for fuel injection, one before the throttle and one before the turbocharger. Heat-release and lambda calculations show substantial cylinder to cylinder variations, due to lambda variations between the cylinders. The slow burn combustion chamber, with low turbulence, results in high cycle to cycle variations (> 100% COV imep) for some of the load cases.
Technical Paper

Employing an Ionization Sensor for Combustion Diagnostics in a Lean Burn Natural Gas Engine

An ionization sensor has been used to study the combustion process in a six-cylinder lean burn, truck-sized engine fueled with natural gas and optimized for low emissions of nitric oxides. The final goal of the investigations is to study the prospects of using the ionization sensor for finding the optimal operating position with respect to low NOx emission and stable engine operation. The results indicate that unstable combustion can be detected by analyzing the coefficient of variation (CoV) of the detector current amplitude. Close relationships between this measure and the CoV of the indicated mean effective pressure have been found during an air-fuel ratio scan with fixed ignition advance.
Technical Paper

Combustion Chambers for Supercharged Natural Gas Engines

This work is a continuation of earlier research conducted on the effects of different combustion chambers on turbulence, combustion, emissions and efficiency for natural gas converted diesel bus engines. In this second measurement series the engine (Volvo TD102) was supercharged to enable bmep up to 18 bar at λ = 1.6-1.9. Six different combustion chambers were used. The results show that different geometrical combustion chambers, with the same compression ratio (12:1), have very different combustion performance. A high rate of heat release is favorable for lean operation, and the design of the combustion chamber is very important for the knock and misfire limits.
Technical Paper

Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI) Using Isooctane, Ethanol and Natural Gas - A Comparison with Spark Ignition Operation

The Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI) is the third alternative for combustion in the Internal Combustion (IC) engines. Here, a homogeneous charge is used as in a spark ignited engine but the charge is compressed to auto-ignition as in a diesel. The characteristics of HCCI were compared to SI using a 1.6 liter single cylinder engine with compression ratio 21:1 in HCCI mode and 12:1 in SI mode. Three different fuels were used; isooctane, ethanol and natural gas. Some remarkable results were noted in the experiments: The indicated efficiency of HCCI was much better than for SI operation. Very little NOx was generated with HCCI, eliminating the need for a LeanNOx catalyst. However, HCCI generated more HC and CO than SI operation. Stable and efficient operation with HCCI could be obtained with λ=3 to λ=9 using isooctane or ethanol. Natural gas, with a higher octane number, required a richer mixture to run in HCCI mode.