Laser-Spark Ignition Testing in a Natural Gas-Fueled Single-Cylinder Engine
As the demand for higher engine efficiencies and lower emissions drive stationary, spark-ignited reciprocating engine combustion to leaner air/fuel operating conditions and higher in-cylinder pressures, increased spark energy is required for maintain stable combustion and low emissions. Unfortunately, increased spark energy negatively impacts spark plug durability and its effectiveness in transmitting adequate energy as an ignition source. Laser ignition offers the potential to improve ignition system durability, reduce maintenance, as well as to improve engine combustion performance. This paper discusses recent engine combustion testing with an open beam path laser ignition system in a single-cylinder engine fueled by natural gas. In particular, engine knock and misfire maps are developed for both conventional spark plug and laser spark ignition. The misfire limit is shown to be significantly extended for laser ignition while the knock limit remains virtually unaffected.