Abstract

Converting existing diesel engines to natural-gas spark-ignition (SI) operation can reduce the dependence on oil imports and increase energy security. NG-dedicated conversion can be achieved by the addition of a gas injector in the intake manifold and of a spark plug in place of the diesel injector. Previous studies indicated that lean-burn NG inside the traditional diesel chamber (i.e., a bowl-in-piston geometry) is a two-stage combustion (i.e., a fast burn inside the bowl followed by a slower burn inside the squish). However, a triple-peak apparent heat release rate was seen at specific operating conditions (e.g., advanced spark timing at medium load and engine speed), suggesting that one of the two combustion stages may separate again. Specifically, the burn inside the squish region divided in two events before and after top-dead-center. This was due to the different flow motion inside the squish during the compression stroke compared to the one in the expansion stroke, which affected the combustion environments. The result was the apparition of two close peaks in pressure trace, which suggest larger gradients in pressure and temperature than at a more delayed spark timing. In addition, the phasing and magnitude of three peaks of the heat release changed cycle-to-cycle. As an advanced spark timing is the usual strategy used in lean-burn SI combustion, understanding phenomena such as the one presented here can be important for reducing engine-out emissions and increase engine efficiency.

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