Areas of Research Expertise: Engines Emissions and Efficiency
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Background: Engines & Energy Conversion Laboratory
The Engines & Energy Conversion Laboratory (EECL) is a unique research/education program housed in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. The laboratory was established in the Old Fort Collins Power Plant in June 1992. In the years since then the laboratory has grown to become one of the largest and most influential engines research programs in the United States. The EECL is widely recognized as an international leader in the fields of large gas engines for power generation and compression, small 2-stroke cycle engines for use in developing countries, alternative fuels for automobiles, computational fluid dynamic (CFD) modeling of engines, and optical combustion diagnostics. The Department has invested in the laboratory through the recent hires of two new faculty members who have established new EECL programs in diesel engines, laser diagnostics, and plasma applications in engines.
Ignition in Industrial Engines - back to top
There are two primary areas of ignition research, laser ignition and precombustion chamber ignition. High energy pulsed lasers are being investigated as a means to ignite very lean mixtures in high BMEP engines. Most agree that fiber delivery of the laser light is an enabling technology for this ignition approach. In June of 2005 the CSU research team became the first in the world to run an engine cylinder using a pulsed laser ignition system that employed hollow core fibers to deliver the laser light. Precombustion chambers are an established ignition technology for large industrial natural gas engines. However, to meet more stringent emissions regulations prechamber performance must be improved and NOx generation in the prechamber must be mitigated. As part of this effort the CSU EECL has developed an optically accessible head for our GMV-4TF engine for evaluation of new prechamber concepts. Other diagnostic tools being employed are fast sampling of prechamber gas and spectroscopic analysis of combustion emitted light.
Exhaust Aftertreatment for Industrial Engines - back to top
The primary areas of emphasis in exhaust aftertreatment at this time are nonthermal plasmas and Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR). Both are targeted for lean burn applications. In the area of nonthermal plasmas a number of different approaches are being investigated. These include different plasma sources as well as various methods for treating the exhaust. On-going testing involves the marrying of nonthermal plasma and SCR technology by creating a nonthermal plasma from the ammonia reductant stream in a standard SCR configuration. In conventional SCR research the CSU EECL is in the early stages of a multi-year program. This research focuses on large bore two-stroke compressor engines. In this work a slipstream SCR research system is being built on the GMV-4TF engine. This system is designed to enable investigation of state-of-the-art SCR technology, such as pre- and post-oxidation catalysts, hydrolysis catalysts, different reductant types, reductant mixing effects, space velocity, catalyst temperature, and different SCR catalyst formulations.
Engines for Distributed Power Generation - back to top
In August of 2005 a 1.7 MW Caterpillar 3516 natural gas engine for distributed power generation was installed at the CSU EECL. The engine is used primarily for engine development work. Current work includes experimental evaluation of ion sensing systems and advanced spark plug technology. There is also on-going electrical grid simulation work. This project involves the installation of various small scale distributed generation sources at the EECL, which include a wind turbine simulator, reciprocating engines, a gas turbine, and a fuel cell. Research will be performed on the stability of the electrical grid as various combinations of these sources are operated through a range of conditions.
Friction Reduction - back to top
The goal of this research is to reduce parasitic losses of natural gas reciprocating engines by reducing piston/ring assemply friction without introducing major adverse effects. The work is being performed on a 6 cylinder Waukesha VGF 18 liter engine. Highly precise measurements of FMEP and oil consumption are recorded for various ring pack designs and configurations. Test results are compared with friction modeling performed at MIT.
Gas Composition - back to top
Gas fueled engines are typically designed to operate on gaseous fuel composition within a small "window" bounded by methane number and Wobbe index. When the gas composition falls outside this "window" the engine can experience problems with the emissions compliance, detonation, fuel system capacity, and engine control. LNG imports, aging natural gas wells, biogas and synthetic gas production, landfill and digester gas supply, and other factors have brought gas composition issues to the forefront. The CSU EECL is performing gas composition research and developing capabilities to expand this research activity. We have installed infrastructure to perform propane blending with natural gas to increase the methane number of the gaseous fuel delivered to test engines. This capability is being used for development of knock detection and control technologies. There are plans to add CO2 and N2 blending to simulate landfill gas and add to methane blending to allow full control of methane number.
Biogas - back to top
A 4.5 Liter 175 HP John Deere 4045 Engine was installed in 2005 at the CSU EECL for biogas research. Specifically, "producer gas" from the gasification of wood is being studied utilizing a Community Power Corporation 15kW Gasification unit. The fuel is ignited using diesel pilot fuel injection. The research focuses on three areas: (1) implementing common rail diesel pilot injection, (2) optimizing timing and duration of pilot fuel injection, and (3) using WAVE modeling for turbocharge sizing.
Stationary Source Technologies - back to top
The EECL specializes in the study of emissions formation in internal combustion engines. The lab has particular expertise in emissions from large stationary engines, small two-stroke engines, and engines operating on alternative fuels. The laboratory has developed emissions control technologies for all of these applications.
The EECL conducts its research in several ways:
Emission measurement capabilities include:
Air Pollution Formation and Control - back to top
Large Engine Studies - The EECL has established the world's only university-based facility for conducting experimental research on large engines. The value of this facility is estimated at over $5 million. Recent key accomplishments from this facility include:
High-Pressure Fuel Injection - The EECL pioneered the application of "high pressure fuel injection" for large natural gas engines, with the first publication on the topic in 1998. The technology is now being rapidly commercialized and is credited with allowing simultaneous reduction in emissions and fuel consumption on the US natural gas pipeline system. Research on high-pressure fuel injection includes:
Laser Diagnostics for Combustion Systems - back to top
Capabilities include planar laser induced fluorescence (PLIF) and laser induced incandescence (LII) for quantitative, temporal and spatial measurements of NO, OH and CH and soot volume fraction. Existing resources in terms of optical and laser equipment include a Nd:YAG pumped optical parametric oscillator (OPO), a second high-power seeded Nd:YAG laser, several optical tables, low-power alignment lasers, beam conditioning and delivery optics, intensified camera, photo-detectors (photo-multipliers, photodiodes), oscilloscopes, timing boxes, computer acquisition systems etc.
Laser Ignition - back to top
Laser Ignition is exploring the potential of using focused lasers to replace the spark plugs currently in use in large natural gas engines. This project is a large effort working with DOE, the California Energy Commission, Argonne National Lab, the National Energy Technology Lab, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and several engine manufacturers. Successful single cylinder tests were performed at the EECL on slow speed and medium speed natural gas engines.