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Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics


While operating at light loads, diesel pilot-ignited natural gas engines with lean pre-mixed natural gas suffer from poor combustion efficiency and high methane emissions. This work investigates the limits of low-load operation for a micro-pilot diesel natural gas engine that uses a stoichiometric mixture to enable methane and nitrogen oxide emission control. By optimizing engine hardware, operating conditions, and injection strategies, this study focused on defining the lowest achievable load while maintaining a stoichiometric equivalence ratio and with acceptable combustion stability. A multi-cylinder diesel 6.7 L engine was converted to run natural gas premix with a maximum diesel micro-pilot contribution of 10%. With a base diesel compression ratio of 17.3:1, the intake manifold pressure limit was 80 kPa (absolute). At a reduced compression ratio of 15:1, this limit increased to 85 kPa, raising the minimum stable load. Retarding the combustion phasing, typically used in spark-ignition engines to achieve lower loads, was also tested but found to be limited by degraded diesel ignition at later timings. Reducing the pilot injection pressure improved combustion stability, as did increasing pilot quantity at the cost of lower substitution ratios. The lean operation further reduced load but increased NOx and hydrocarbon emissions. At loads below the practical dual-fuel limit, a transition to lean diesel operation will likely be required with corresponding implications for the aftertreatment system.

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© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https:// 4.0/). Publisher’s version of record:

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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