Lean combustion is a standard approach used to reduce NOx emissions in large bore natural gas engines. However, at lean operating points, combustion instabilities and misfires give rise to high total hydrocarbon (THC) and carbon monoxide (CO) emissions. To counteract this effect, precombustion chamber (PCC) technology is employed to allow engine operation at an overall lean equivalence ratio while mitigating the rise of THC and CO caused by combustion instability and misfires. A PCC is a small chamber, typically 1–2% of the clearance volume. A separate fuel line supplies gaseous fuel to the PCC and a standard spark plug ignites the slightly rich mixture (equivalence ratio 1.1 to 1.2) in the PCC. The ignited PCC mixture enters the main combustion chamber as a high energy flame jet, igniting the lean mixture in the main chamber. Typically, natural gas fuels both the main cylinder and the PCC. In the current research, a mixture of reformed natural gas (syngas) and natural gas fuels the PCC. Syngas is a broad term that refers to a synthetic gaseous fuel. In this case, syngas specifically denotes a mixture of hydrogen, carbon monoxide, nitrogen, and methane generated in a natural gas reformer. Syngas has a faster flame speed and a wider equivalence ratio range of operation. Fueling the PCC with Syngas reduces combustion instabilities and misfires. This extends the overall engine lean limit, enabling further NOx reductions. Research results presented are aimed at quantifying the benefits of syngas PCC fueling. A model is developed to predict equivalence ratio in the PCC for different mixtures and flowrates of fuel. An electronic injection valve is used to supply the PCC with syngas. The delivery pressure, injection timing, and flow rate are varied to optimize PCC equivalence ratio. The experimental results show that supplying the PCC with syngas improves combustion stability by 16% compared to natural gas PCC fueling. Comparing equivalent combustion stability operating points between syngas mixtures and natural gas shows a 40% reduction in NOx emissions when fueling the PCC with syngas mixtures compared to natural gas fueling.

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