Heavy-duty compression-ignition (CI) engines converted to natural gas (NG) operation can reduce the dependence on petroleum-based fuels and curtail greenhouse gas emissions. Such an engine was converted to premixed NG spark-ignition (SI) operation through the addition of a gas injector in the intake manifold and of a spark plug in place of the diesel injector. Engine performance and combustion characteristics were investigated at several lean-burn operating conditions that changed fuel composition, spark timing, equivalence ratio, and engine speed. While the engine operation was stable, the reentrant bowl-in-piston (a characteristic of a CI engine) influenced the combustion event such as producing a significant late combustion, particularly for advanced spark timing. This was due to an important fraction of the fuel burning late in the squish region, which affected the end of combustion, the combustion duration, and the cycle-to-cycle variation. However, the lower cycle-to-cycle variation, stable combustion event, and the lack of knocking suggest a successful conversion of conventional diesel engines to NG SI operation using the approach described here.

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