Two different methods to improve the thermal efficiency and reduce the emissions from lean-burn natural gas fuelled engines have been developed, and are described in this paper. One method used a “squish-jet” combustion chamber designed specifically to enhance turbulence generation, while the second method provided a partially stratified-charge mixture near the spark plug in order to enhance the ignition of lean mixtures of natural gas and air. The squish-jet combustion chamber was found to reduce Bsfc by up to 4.8% in a Ricardo Hydra engine, while the NOx – efficiency tradeoff was greatly improved in a Cummins L-10 engine. The partially stratified-charge combustion system extended the lean limit of operation in the Ricardo Hydra by some 10%, resulting in a 64% reduction in NOx emissions at the lean limit of operation. Both techniques were also shown to be effective in increasing the stability of combustion, thereby reducing cyclic variations in cylinder pressure.

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