An experimental investigation and a burning-rate analysis have been performed on a production 1.4 liter CNG (compressed natural gas) engine fueled with methane-hydrogen blends. The engine features a pent-roof combustion chamber, four valves per cylinder and a centrally located spark plug.

The experimental tests have been carried out in order to quantify the cycle-to-cycle and the cylinder-to-cylinder combustion variation. Therefore, the engine has been equipped with four dedicated piezoelectric pressure transducers placed on each cylinder and located by the spark plug. At each test point, in-cylinder pressure, fuel consumption, induced air mass flow rate, pressure and temperature at different locations on the engine intake and exhaust systems as well as ‘engine-out’ pollutant emissions have been measured. The signals correlated to the engine operation have been acquired by means of a National Instruments PXI-DAQ system and a home developed software. The acquired data have then been processed through a combustion diagnostic tool resulting from the integration of an original multizone thermodynamic model with a CAD procedure for the evaluation of the burned-gas front geometry. The diagnostic tool allows the burning velocities to be computed.

The tests have been performed over a wide range of engine speeds, loads and relative air-fuel ratios (up to the lean operation). For stoichiometric operation, the addition of hydrogen to CNG has produced a bsfc reduction ranging between 2 to 7% and a bsTHC decrease up to the 40%. These benefits have appeared to be even higher for lean mixtures. Moreover, hydrogen has shown to significantly enhance the combustion process, thus leading to a sensibly lower cycle-to-cycle variability. As a matter of fact, hydrogen addition has generally resulted into extended operation up to RAFR = 1.8. Still, a discrepancy in the abovementioned conclusions was observed depending on the engine cylinder considered.

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