Laser ignition is a potential ignition technology to achieve reliable lean burn ignition in high brake mean effective pressure (BMEP) internal combustion engines. The technology has the potential to increase brake thermal efficiency and reduce exhaust emissions. This submission reports on engine testing of a Caterpillar G3516C stationary natural gas fueled engine with three types of ignition approaches: (i) nonfueled electric prechamber plug with electrodes at the base of the prechamber, (ii) nonfueled laser prechamber plug with laser spark in the middle of the prechamber, and (iii) open chamber plug with laser spark in the main chamber. In the second configuration, a stock nonfueled prechamber plug was modified to incorporate a sapphire window and a focusing lens to form a laser prechamber plug. A 1064 nm Q-switched Nd:YAG laser was used to create laser sparks. For these tests, a single cylinder of the engine was retrofitted with the laser plug while the remaining cylinders were run with conventional electric ignition system at baseline ignition timing of 24 deg before top dead center (BTDC). The performances of the three plugs were compared in terms of indicated mean effective pressures (IMEP), mass burn fraction duration and coefficient of variation (COV) of IMEP, and COV of peak pressure location. Test data show comparable performance between electric and laser prechamber plugs, albeit with a lower degree of variability in engine’s performance for electric prechamber plug compared to the laser prechamber plug. The open chamber plug exhibited poorer variability in engine performance. All results are discussed in the context of prechamber and engine fluid mechanics.

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