Evermore demanding market and legislative pressures require stationary lean-burn natural gas engines to operate at higher efficiencies and reduced levels of emissions. Higher in-cylinder pressures and leaner air/fuel ratios are required in order to meet these demands. Contemporary ignition systems, more specifically spark plug performance and durability, suffer as a result of the increase in spark energy required to maintain suitable engine operation under these conditions. This paper presents a discussion of the need for an improved ignition source for advanced stationary natural gas engines and introduces laser spark ignition as a potential solution to that need. Recent laser spark ignition engine testing with natural gas fuel including NOx mapping is discussed. A prototype laser system in constructed and tested and the results are discussed and solutions provided for improving the laser system output pulse energy and pulse characteristics.

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