Improving natural gas engines

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has selected six universities to investigate ways to improve the performance of reciprocating engines.

Funded by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the projects all focus on medium-speed (between 1,200-1,800 revolutions per minute) natural gas engines for distributed energy applications.

The DOE is investing $3.6 million of the projects’ combined value of $4.6 million.

University researchers will test engines and produce analytical computer models that will allow engines, pistons, piston rings and cylinder liners to be enhanced.

In addition, researchers will seek a more comprehensive understanding of ignition systems, especially at the point of ignition and the beginning of the power cycle.

One goal of the so called ‘Advanced Reciprocating Engines Project’ is to increase the energy efficiency of medium-size natural gas engines from the current 34-38 percent to 50 percent.

In addition, it aims to reduce nitrogen oxides emissions from one gram per horsepower-hour to 0.1 of a gram per horsepower-hour, and reduce operating and maintenance costs by 10 percent below today’s costs for modern engines.

Details of the research can be found at the US DOE site.