Natural gas fuels represent the next evolution of low-carbon energy feedstocks powering human activity worldwide. The internal combustion engine, the energy conversion device widely used by society for more than one century, is capable of utilizing advanced combustion strategies in pursuit of ultra-high efficiency and ultra-low emissions. Yet many emerging advanced combustion strategies depend upon traditional petroleum-based fuels for their operation. In this research the use of natural gas, namely methane, is applied to both conventional and advanced dual-fuel combustion strategies.
In the first part of this work both computational and experimental studies are undertaken to examine the viability of utilizing methane as the premixed low reactivity fuel in reactivity controlled compression ignition, a leading advanced dual-fuel combustion strategy. As a result, methane is shown to be capable of significantly extending the load limits for dual-fuel reactivity controlled compression ignition in both light- and heavy-duty engines.
In the second part of this work heavy-duty single-cylinder engine experiments are performed to research the performance of both conventional dual-fuel (diesel pilot ignition) and advanced dual-fuel (reactivity controlled compression ignition) combustion strategies using methane as the premixed low reactivity fuel. Both strategies are strongly influenced by equivalence ratio; diesel pilot ignition offers best performance at higher equivalence ratios and higher premixed methane ratios, whereas reactivity controlled compression ignition offers superior performance at lower equivalence ratios and lower premixed methane ratios.
In the third part of this work experiments are performed in order to determine the dominant mode of heat release for both dual-fuel combustion strategies. By studying the dual-fuel homogeneous charge compression ignition and single-fuel spark ignition, strategies representative of autoignition and flame propagation, respectively, detailed heat release analyses can be performed in order to determine the dominant mode of heat release. The results indicate, for lean conditions, that diesel pilot ignition is controlled by flame propagation and reactivity controlled compression ignition is controlled by autoignition. The results encourage the use of diesel pilot ignition for low-boost stoichiometric engine applications and the use of reactivity controlled compression ignition for high-boost lean-burn engine applications.