The goal is to enhance the efficiency of the nation's natural gas transmission and distribution infrastructure, while reducing emissions.
Objectives The objective of this project is to develop laser ignition technology that can facilitate the development of high-efficiency, low-emission stationary natural gas fueled reciprocating engines for gas compression.
NETL in-house research with support from West Virginia University – project management and research product
A demand for higher engine efficiency combined with lower emissions in reciprocating gas compressor engines has driven engine combustion towards leaner air/fuel operating conditions. This requires increased spark energy to maintain stable combustion with low emissions. Unfortunately, increased spark energy negatively impacts spark plug durability and performance as an ignition source. An alternative is laser-spark ignition, where high-energy photons are focused to create a plasma breakdown at a point inside a compressor cylinder. One of the most promising aspects of laser-spark ignition is its ability to ignite lean mixtures that would be un-ignitable by a typical spark ignition system.
NETL is undertaking in-house research to study the performance, combustion and emission behavior of laser-induced spark ignition in high-pressure, fuel-lean, and large-bore natural gas engines. This effort will identify optimum ignition location configurations and quantify potential benefits (emissions, efficiency, combustion stability, reliability and durability). It will also identify the specific technical difficulties that challenge an eventual commercial system for a reciprocating engine.
NETL's approach includes:
Tests of both spark plug and laser-spark systems showed that the misfire limit is significantly extended for laser ignition. Also, ignition delay was found to be approximately 7 percent shorter for laser ignition over the conventional spark plug system. The engine knock limit exhibits a slight decrease, probably due to small differences in combustion phasing and remaining differences in start-of-combustion. Multipoint ignition via laser delivery offers potential for engine applications to further extend misfire and knock limits. Combustion testing where a laser was used to initiate combustion in a pressurized test vessel revealed that the laser-spark ignition process seems to be dominated by a hot ball of gas remaining after the laser spark has dissipated.
and Remaining Tasks:
Experimentation continues on the development of a working end-pumped laser ignition system which will be engine-tested if time permits during FY2007. At that point, work on this project will be completed.
NETL – John Ontko (John.Ontko@NETL.DOE.GOV or 304-285-4930)