Wellhead gas from which pipeline natural gas originates has significant variability in composition due to natural variations in deposits. Gas quality is influenced by relative concentrations of both inert and hydrocarbon species. Gas compression engines utilizing wellhead gas as a fuel source often require significant installation time and adjustment of stock configuration due to fuel compositions that vary with time and location. Lean burn natural gas engines are chosen as wellhead compression engines for high efficiency and low emissions while minimizing the effect of variable gas composition. Ideal engine conditions are maintained by operating within the knock and misfire limits of the engine. Additional data is needed to find engine operational limitations. In this work, experimental data was collected on a Cummins GTA8.3SLB engine operating on variable methane number fuel under closed-loop equivalence ratio control. A fuel blending system was used to vary methane number to simulate wellhead compositions. NOx and CO emissions were found to increase with decreasing methane number while combustion stability remained constant. In addition, the effects of carbon dioxide and nitrogen diluents in the fuel were investigated. When diluents were present in the fuel, engine performance could be maintained by spark timing advance.

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