A study of natural gas (NG) direct injection (DI) processes in engines has been performed using multidimensional computational fluid dynamics analysis. The purpose was to investigate the effects of key engine design parameters on the mixing in DI NG engines. Full three-dimensional calculations of injection into a medium heavy-duty diesel engine cylinder were performed. Perturbations on a baseline engine configuration were considered. In spite of single plume axisymmetric injection calculations that show mixing improves as nozzle hole size is reduced: plume merging caused by having too many nozzle holes has a severe negative impact on mixing; and increasing the number of injector holes strengthens plume deflection toward the cylinder head, which also adversely affects mixing. The optimal number of holes for a quiescent engine was found to be that which produces the largest number of separate NG plumes. Increasing the nozzle angle to reduce plume deflection can adversely affect mixing due to reduced jet radial penetration. Increasing the injector tip height is an effective approach to eliminating plume deflection and improving mixing. Extremely high-velocity squish flows, with penetration to the center of the piston bowl, are necessary to have a significant impact on mixing. Possible improvements in mixing can be realized by relieving the center of the piston bowl in typical “Mexican hat” bowl designs. CFD analysis can effectively be used to optimize combustion chamber geometry by fitting the geometry to computed plume shapes.

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