Enerpulse Technologies, an Albuquerque-based developer-manufacturer of high performance, low emissions ignition products, has set about building upon its C2 (pulsed plasma discharge) ignition system to reduce emissions from natural gas-fueled engies, funded in part by a USD 0.75 million grant awarded by the California Energy Commission(CEC). According to the CEC “ignition characteristics of natural gas fuel represent challenges to engine manufacturers working to satisfy tighter emission standards, achieve lower fuel consumption and higher engine performance.”
The CEC’s stated goal is to “advance the functionality of natural gas ignition under high boost pressure and heavy EGR conditions to facilitate the development of engines with lower nitrogen oxides (NOx) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.”
The C2 is currently found in its Enerpulse’s commercially available Pulstar® spark plugs. Enerpulse will integrate proprietary electronic controls creating a system that increases the size and duration of the plasma field during ignition and combustion. This strategy will enable extremely reliable ignition timing and more efficient combustion of natural gas fuels than ever before possible, particularly under high boost and heavy EGR conditions.
Enerpulse is partnering with Power Solutions International (PSI), which focuses on design, engineering and manufacture of emissions-certified, alternative-fuel power systems, to deliver a commercially viable natural gas fueled power plant that meets the CEC’s stated objectives. Enerpulse’s C2 ignition system will be incorporated into PSI’s turbocharged 8.8-litre CNG engine, which is currently under development. In addition to turbocharging, PSI’s new engine will employ substantial amounts of cooled Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) to significantly reduce emissions and improve fuel consumption. Introducing substantial amounts of cooled EGR presents significant challenges to conventional ignition systems in natural gas fueled engines, which will be addressed by C2.
“Most automotive original equipment manufacturers are already using cooled EGR in gasoline engines to meet emissions standards, but similar use of cooled EGR in Natural Gas engines has been impossible until now,” said Lou Camilli, President and Chief Technology Officer for Enerpulse Technologies. “NatGas fuels like CNG are very difficult to ignite and adding cooled EGR makes them nearly impossible to ignite with conventional ignition systems. The harder fuel is to ignite, the longer plasma must be present in the cylinder to assist combustion. Enerpulse’s C2 ignition system will increase and extend the amount of plasma generated during the ignition cycle. Enerpulse’s C2 ignition system combined with PSI’s advanced turbocharged engine with cooled EGR is the perfect combination to push this critical boundary.”
“We’re very excited to collaborate on this ambitious project and to showcase the capabilities of our turbocharged, 8.8-liter CNG engine,” said Jeremy Lessaris, PSI’s Vice President of Marketing & Communications. “The goal of the CEC is to develop a power system that advances engine performance, improves exhaust emissions and increases the economic viability of natural gas fueled engines for mid-size commercial vehicles. We believe the technologies developed for this project can help accomplish all three objectives and that there is great commercial potential for an ultra-low emission, CNG-engine platform.”
(Source: Enerpulse Technologies and Power Solutions International, Inc.)