Low energy content fuels such as landfill gas can contain a significant amount of diluents like CO2. Critical fuel properties including the lower heating value (LHV) and an anti-knock property, in particular the methane number (MN), should be considered to optimize operation of a spark ignited (SI) engine. The MN has been shown to be a good indicator of knock propensity in stoichiometric SI engines. However, this approach is not always as effective for lean burn SI engines. Two fuels with the same methane number, but with different compositions, may exhibit a different propensity to knocking in an advanced lean burn SI engine. This effect is particularly pronounced when comparing fuels that have different amounts of diluents. In this paper we propose an alternative calculation of the MN, which compensates for the effect of diluents. More specifically, we define a lean burn methane index (LBMI), which is calculated without the diluents. This approach was validated using chemical kinetics modeling. The analysis considered fundamental combustion properties, including laminar flame speed (LFS), adiabatic flame temperature (AFT) and the autoignition interval (AI). For this study, a baseline fuel was selected based on a typical US pipeline natural gas composition. CO2 was then added as a diluent to the baseline fuel to simulate low energy density fuel compositions. Lambda values were selected to provide the same AFT or engine-out NOx. Low energy content fuel were found to have very similar AI values (less than 2% relative difference) to the baseline fuel at the target lambda values. A key result of this study is that the LBMI is a much better predictor of knock propensity than the traditional MN, when comparing fuels with widely varying levels of dilution for advanced lean burn SI engines.

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