The need to further reduce fuel consumption and decrease the output of emissions — in order to be within future emissions legislation — is still an ongoing effort for the development of internal combustion engines. Natural gas is a fossil fuel which is comprised mostly of methane and makes it very attractive for use in internal combustion engines because of its higher knock resistance and higher molar hydrogen-to-carbon ratio compared to gasoline. The current paper compares the combustion and emissions behavior of the test engine being operated on either a representative U.S. market gasoline or natural gas. Moreover, specific in-cylinder blend ratios with gasoline and natural gas were also investigated at part-load and wide open throttle conditions. The dilution tolerance for part-load operation was investigated by adding cooled exhaust gas recirculation. The engine used for these investigations was a single cylinder research engine for light duty application which is equipped with two separate fuel systems. Gasoline was injected into the intake port; natural gas was injected directly into the cylinder to overcome the power density loss usually connected with port fuel injection of natural gas. Injecting natural gas directly into the cylinder reduced both ignition delay and combustion duration of the combustion process compared to the injection of gasoline into the intake port. Injecting natural gas and gasoline simultaneously resulted in a higher dilution tolerance compared to operation on one of the fuels alone. Significantly higher net indicated mean effective pressure and indicated thermal efficiency were achieved when natural gas was directly injected after intake valve closing at wide open throttle, compared to an injection while the intake valves were still open. In general it was shown that the blend ratio and the start of injection need to be varied depending on load and dilution level in order to operate the engine with the highest efficiency or highest load.

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