Natural gas direct injection (DI) and glow plug ignition assist technologies were implemented in a single-cylinder, compression-ignition optical research engine. Initial experiments studied the effects of injector and glow plug shield geometry on ignition quality. Injector and shield geometric effects were found to be significant, with only two of 20 tested geometric combinations resulting in reproducible ignition. Of the two successful combinations, the combination with 0 deg injector angle and 60 deg shield angle was found to result in shorter ignition delay and was selected for further testing. Further experiments explored the effects of the overall equivalence ratio (controlled by injection duration) and intake pressure on ignition delay and combustion performance. Ignition delay was measured to be in the range of 1.6–2.0 ms. Equivalence ratio was found to have little to no effect on the ignition delay. Higher intake pressure was shown to increase ignition delay due to the effect of swirl momentum on fuel jet development, air entrainment, and jet deflection away from optimal contact with the glow plug ignition source. Analysis of combustion was carried out by examination of the rate of heat release (ROHR) profiles. ROHR profiles were consistent with two distinct modes of combustion: premixed mode at all test conditions, and a mixing-controlled mode that only appeared at higher equivalence ratios following premixed combustion.

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