Application and Investigation of the Effect on Emission and Performance Associated with Passive Pre-Chamber Spark Plugs and Integrated Controls on Low Btu-Fueled Natural Gas Engines
Operators of lean-burn natural gas engines, using low quality fuels, face the dual challenges of maintaining engine stability while compelled to meet reduced operating emission levels. Additionally, machines driven by such fuels routinely face substantial daily variances in methane content. The result: poor ignitability and/or misfire. Frequently, these engines must be operated at sub-optimal, rich conditions to assure reasonable combustion stability. The consequence: excess NOx production, reduced spark plug life, and premature power cylinder failures. This paper outlines the exploration and field testing of a system solution designed around an engine-specific, pre-chamber spark plug and an optimized retrofit control solution. The design and test goals: meeting and maintaining the desired combustion stability and the required emission levels. Reported and reviewed field test results from CAT3516A/B engines indicate a significant improvement in combustion stability at lean conditions, resulting in a reduction of both NOx production and fuel consumption. This paper will outline the test methodology and a review of observed results, as well as an overview of the range of enabling technologies central to the solution.