The decreased hydrogen content of future fuels will lead to increased formation of soot, while increased organically bound nitrogen in the fuel can result in excessive NOx emission. Control concepts for these two problems are in conflict: prevention of soot requires leaner operation while control of emissions from fuel nitrogen requires fuel-rich operation. However, recent results of two DOE research programs point to both processes having a major dependence on “hydrocarbon breakthrough.” Control of both fuel nitrogen conversion and soot formation can be achieved by primary zone operation at equivalence ratios just below that for hydrocarbon breakthrough. This paper reviews the evidence for the importance of hydrocarbon breakthrough, explains our current understanding of why hydrocarbon breakthrough is important, and offers suggestions of how these results might be applied.

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