Ignition of extremely lean mixtures is a very challenging problem, especially for the low speed, high load conditions of large-bore natural gas engines. This paper presents initial results from testing a high energy ignition system, the railplug, which can assure ignition of very lean mixtures by means of its high energy deposition and high velocity jet of the plasma. Comparisons of natural gas engine tests using both a spark plug and a railplug are presented and discussed in this paper. The preliminary engine test show that the lean stability limit (LSL) can be extended from an equivalence ratio, φ, of ∼0.63 using a spark plug down to 0.56 using a railplug. The tests show that the railplug is very promising ignition system for lean burn natural gas engines and potentially for other engines that operate with very dilute mixtures. The ignition characteristics of different railplug geometric and circuit designs are also discussed.

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