The natural gas industry has seen a considerable increase in production recently as the world seeks out new sources of economical, reliable, and more environmentally friendly energy. Moving this natural gas requires a complex network of pipelines and compressors, including reciprocating engines, to keep the gas moving. Many of these engines were designed more than 40 years ago and must be retrofit with modern technologies to improve their performance while simultaneously reducing the harmful emissions that they produce. In this study a directed energy ignition system is tested on a two-stroke, single cylinder, natural gas-fired engine. Stability and emissions will be observed throughout a range of spark waveforms for a single speed and load that enables the most fuel-lean operation of the engine.

Improving the combustion process of the legacy pipeline engines is a substantial area of opportunity for reducing emissions output. One means of doing so is by improving an engines ability to operate at leaner conditions. To accomplish this, an ignition system needs to be able to send more energy to the spark plug in a controlled manner than a tradition capacitive-discharge ignition system. Controlling the energy is accomplished by optimizing the structure of the waveform or “profile” for each engine design. With this particular directed energy ignition system, spark profiles are able to be configured by changing the duration and amount of current sent to the spark plug. This study investigates a single operating speed and load for 9 different spark energy configurations. Engine operation at these test conditions will allow for emissions and engine performance data, using directed energy, to be analyzed in contrast to capacitive-discharge ignition.

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