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On the combustion of premixed natural gas/gasoline dual fuel blends in SI engines

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posted on 04.01.2017, 09:33 by Sotiris Petrakides
The continuous update of challenging emission legislations has renewed the interest for the use of alternative fuels. The low carbon content, the knocking resistance, and the abundance reserves, have classified natural gas as one of the most promising alternative fuels. The major constituent of natural gas is methane. Historically, the slow burning velocity of methane has been a major concern for its utilisation in energy efficient combustion applications. As emphasized in a limited body of experimental literature, a binary blend of methane and gasoline has the potential to accelerate the combustion process in an SI engine, resulting in a faster combustion even to that of gasoline. The mechanism of such effects remains unclear. This is partially owned to the inadequate prior scientific understanding of the fundamental combustion parameters, laminar burning velocity (Su0) and Markstein length (Lb), of a gasoline-natural gas Dual Fuel (DF) blend. The value of Lb characterises the sensitivity of the flame to stretch. The flame stretch is induced by aerodynamic straining and/or flame curvature. The current research study has therefore being concerned on understanding the combustion mechanism of premixed gasoline - natural gas DF blends both on a fundamental as well as practical SI engine level. The understanding on the contribution of Su0 and Lb to the velocity of a stretched laminar propagating flame has been extended through numerical analysis. A conceptual analysis of the laminar as compared to the SI engine combustion allowed further insights on the effect of turbulence to the mass burning rate of the base fuels. On a fundamental level, the research contribution is made through the quantification of the response of Su0 and Lb with the ratio of methane to PRF95 (95%volliq iso-octane and 5%volliq n-heptane) in a DF blend. Methane has been used as a surrogate for natural gas and PRF95 as a surrogate for gasoline. Constant volume laminar combustion experiments have been conducted in a cylindrical vessel at equivalence ratios of 0.8, 1, 1.2, initial pressures of 2.5, 5, 10 Bar, and a constant temperature of 373 K. Methane was added to PRF95 in three different energy ratios 25%, 50% and 75%. Spherically expanding flames visualised through schlieren photography were used to derive the values of Lb and Su0. It has been concluded that for pressures relevant to SI engine operation (>5bar) and stoichiometric to lean Air Fuel Ratios (AFRs), there is a positive synergy for blending methane to PRF95 due to the convergence of Lb of the blended fuel towards that of pure gas and Su0 towards that of pure liquid. In an SI engine environment, the research contribution is made through the characterisation and scientific understanding of the mechanism of DF combustion, and the importance of flame-stretch interactions at various engine operating conditions. Optical diagnostics have been integrated with in-cylinder pressure analysis to investigate the mechanism of flame velocity and stability with the addition of natural gas to gasoline in a DF blend, under a sweep of engine load (Manifold Absolute Pressure = 0.44, 0.51. 0.61 Bar), speed (1250, 2000, 2750 RPM) and equivalence ratio (0.8, 0.83, 1, 1.25). Consisted with the constant volume experiments, natural gas was added to gasoline in energy ratios of 25%, 50% and 75%. It has been concluded that within the flamelet combustion regime the effect of Lb is dominating the lean burn combustion process both from a flame stability and velocity prospective. The effect of Su0 on the combustion process gradually increases as the AFR shifts from stoichiometric to fuel rich values. For stoichiometric to fuel lean mixtures, the effect of turbulence on the increase of the mass burning rate is on average 13% higher for natural gas as compared to gasoline. The higher turbulence sensitivity of natural gas is attributed to its lower Lb value.


Loughborough University, Department of Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering.



  • Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering


  • Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering


© Sotiris Petrakides

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at:

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.



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Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering Theses