Research Papers: Fuel Combustion

Improving the Efficiency of the Advanced Injection Low Pilot Ignited Natural Gas Engine Using Organic Rankine Cycles

[+] Author and Article Information
K. K. Srinivasan2

Department of Mechanical Engineering,  Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS 39762srinivasan@me.msstate.edu

P. J. Mago

Department of Mechanical Engineering,  Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS 39762srinivasan@me.msstate.edu

G. J. Zdaniuk

 Ramboll Whitbybird, 60 Newman Street, London W1T3DA, UK

L. M. Chamra

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS 39762

K. C Midkiff

Department of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401

Fuel conversion efficiency is defined as the ratio of the engine shaft power to the product of the total mass flow rate of the fuel and its lower heating value. In essence, the FCE is an indicator of how much of the in-cylinder fuel energy is converted to useful work.


Corresponding author.

J. Energy Resour. Technol 130(2), 022201 (May 02, 2008) (7 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2906123 History: Received August 22, 2007; Revised February 13, 2008; Published May 02, 2008

Intense energy security debates amidst the ever increasing demand for energy in the US have provided sufficient impetus to investigate alternative and sustainable energy sources to the current fossil fuel economy. This paper presents the advanced (injection) low pilot ignition natural gas (ALPING) engine as a viable, efficient, and low emission alternative to conventional diesel engines, and discusses further efficiency improvements to the base ALPING engine using organic rankine cycles (ORC) as bottoming cycles. The ALPING engine uses advance injection (5060deg BTDC) of very small diesel pilots in the compression stroke to compression ignite a premixed natural gas-air mixture. It is believed that the advanced injection of the higher cetane diesel fuel leads to longer in-cylinder residence times for the diesel droplets, thereby resulting in distributed ignition at multiple spatial locations, followed by lean combustion of the higher octane natural gas fuel via localized flame propagation. The multiple ignition centers result in faster combustion rates and higher fuel conversion efficiencies. The lean combustion of natural gas leads to reduction in local temperatures that result in reduced oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions, since NOx emissions scale with local temperatures. In addition, the lean premixed combustion of natural gas is expected to produce very little particulate matter emissions (not measured). Representative base line ALPING (60deg BTDC pilot injection timing) (without the ORC) half load (1700rpm, 21kW) operation efficiencies reported in this study are about 35% while the corresponding NOx emission is about 0.02gkWh, which is much lower than EPA 2007 Tier 4 Bin 5 heavy-duty diesel engine statutes of 0.2gkWh. Furthermore, the possibility of improving fuel conversion efficiency at half load operation with ORCs using “dry fluids” is discussed. Dry organic fluids, due to their lower critical points, make excellent choices for waste heat recovery Rankine cycles. Moreover, previous studies indicate that dry fluids are more preferable compared to wet fluids because the need to superheat the fluid to extract work from the turbine is eliminated. The calculations show that ORC—turbocompounding results in fuel conversion efficiency improvements of the order of 10% while maintaining the essential low NOx characteristics of ALPING combustion.

Copyright © 2008 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

Schematic of setup used for ORC analysis

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Figure 2

Schematic representation of (a) isentropic, (b) wet, and (c) dry fluids

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Figure 3

Schematic of experimental arrangement

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Figure 4

NOx–HC trade off shown in injection timing steps of 5deg at half load (21kW)

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Figure 5

FCE and exhaust temperature versus injection timing

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Figure 6

Engine and combined engine-ORC efficiencies at various injection timings

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Figure 7

Effect of the pinch point temperature on the ORC first and second law efficiencies and the combined engine-ORC efficiency at 60deg BTDC

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Figure 8

Variation of the ORC first and second law efficiencies with the evaporator temperature at 20deg, 40deg, and 60deg BTDC



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