Sevik, J., Pamminger, M., Wallner, T., Scarcelli, R. et al., "Performance, Efficiency and Emissions Assessment of Natural Gas Direct Injection compared to Gasoline and Natural Gas Port-Fuel Injection in an Automotive Engine," SAE Int. J. Engines 9(2):1130-1142, 2016, doi:10.4271/2016-01-0806.
Interest in natural gas as a fuel for light-duty transportation has increased due to its domestic availability and lower cost relative to gasoline. Natural gas, comprised mainly of methane, has a higher knock resistance than gasoline making it advantageous for high load operation. However, the lower flame speeds of natural gas can cause ignitability issues at part-load operation leading to an increase in the initial flame development process. While port-fuel injection of natural gas can lead to a loss in power density due to the displacement of intake air, injecting natural gas directly into the cylinder can reduce such losses.A study was designed and performed to evaluate the potential of natural gas for use as a light-duty fuel. Steady-state baseline tests were performed on a single-cylinder research engine equipped for port-fuel injection of gasoline and natural gas, as well as centrally mounted direct injection of natural gas.Experimental results suggest that similar efficiencies can be achieved in part-load operation for both gasoline and natural gas. While the effects of injection timing are generally minimal for port-fuel injection, varying the injection timing for direct injection, especially after intake valve closure, can speed up the early flame development process by nearly 18°CA. Results at full-load suggest that operation with natural gas regardless of fuel system allows for an efficiency increase. While port-fuel injection of natural gas leads to a power density loss, direct injection of natural gas allows for up to a 10% improvement in full-load power density over liquid and gaseous port-fuel injection for a naturally aspirated engine. In addition to increasing full-load efficiencies, natural gas operation allows for up to a 30% reduction in engine out carbon dioxide emissions at full-load.