Natural gas as an alternative fuel in engine applications substantially reduces both pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions. High pressure dual fuel direct injection of natural gas and Diesel pilot has the potential to minimize methane slip from gas engines and increase the fuel flexibility, while retaining the high efficiency of a Diesel engine. Speed and load variations as well as various strategies for emission reduction entail a wide range of different operating conditions. The influence of these operating conditions on the ignition and combustion process is investigated on a rapid compression expansion machine. By combining simultaneous Shadowgraphy and OH* imaging with heat release rate analysis, an improved understanding of the ignition and combustion process is established. At high temperatures and pressures the reduced pilot ignition delay and lift-off length minimize the effect of natural gas jet entrainment on pilot mixture formation. A simple geometrical constraint was found to reflect the susceptibility for misfiring. At the same time natural gas ignition is delayed by the early pilot ignition close to the injector tip. The shape of heat release is only marginally affected by the operating conditions and mainly determined by the degree of premixing at the time of gas jet ignition. Luminescence from the sooting natural gas flame is generally only detected after the flame extends across the whole gas jet at peak heat release rate. Termination of gas injection at this time was confirmed to effectively suppress soot formation, while a strongly sooting pilot seems to intensify soot formation within the natural gas jet.

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