UBC Theses and Dissertations
UBC Theses and Dissertations
An image-based analysis of stratified natural gas combustion in a constant volume bomb Mezo, Andrew
Current stoichiometric spark-ignited engine technologies require costly catalytic converters for reductions in tailpipe emissions. Load control is achieved by using a throttle, which is a leading contributor to reductions in efficiency. Spark-ignited lean burn natural gas engines have been proven to be more efficient and emit fewer pollutants than their stoichiometric counterparts. Load reduction in these engines can be achieved by regulating the air/fuel ratio of the intake charge thereby reducing the efficiency penalties inherent to throttling. Partially stratified charge (PSC) can provide further reductions in emissions and improvements in efficiency by extending the lean limit of operation. PSC is achieved by the ignition of a small quantity of natural gas in the vicinity of the spark plug. This creates an easily ignitable mixture at the spark plug electrodes, thereby providing a high energy ignition source for the ultra-lean bulk charge. Stratified charge engine operation using direct injection (DI) has been proposed as a method of bridging the throttleless load reduction gap between idle and ultra-lean conditions. A previous study was conducted to determine if PSC can provide a high-energy ignition source in a direct injected stratified charge engine. Difficulties with igniting the PSC injections in an air-only bulk charge were encountered. This study focuses on a fundamental Schlieren image-based analysis of PSC combustion. Natural gas was injected through a modified spark plug located in an optically accessible combustion bomb. The relationships between PSC injection timing, fuel supply pressure and spark timing were investigated. Spark timing is defined as the duration between commanded start of injection and the time of spark. As the fuel supply pressure was increased, the minimum spark timing that lead to successful combustion also increased. The largest spark timing window that led to successful combustion was determined to be 80 ms wide at an injection fuel supply pressure of 300 psi. The amount of unburned natural gas increased with increasing spark timing. A cold flow study of the PSC injection system was also conducted. The PSC injection solenoid was found to have a consistent average injection delay of 1.95 ms. The slope of the linear response region of observed injection duration to commanded injection duration was 8.4. Due to plenum effects, the average observed injection duration of the entire PSC system was an order of magnitude longer than the commanded injection duration and was found to vary significantly with fuel supply pressure.
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