Comprehensive analysis of the combustion of low carbon fuels (hydrogen, methane and coke oven gas) in a spark ignition engine through CFD modeling


The use of low carbon fuels (LCFs) in internal combustion engines is a promising alternative to reduce pollution while achieving high performance through the conversion of the high energy content of the fuels into mechanical energy. However, optimizing the engine design requires deep knowledge of the complex phenomena involved in combustion that depend on the operating conditions and the fuel employed. In this work, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation tools have been used to get insight into the performance of a Volkswagen Polo 1.4L port-fuel injection spark ignition engine that has been fueled with three different LCFs, coke oven gas (COG), a gaseous by-product of coke manufacture, H2 and CH4. The comparison is made in terms of power, pressure, temperature, heat release, flame growth speed, emissions and volumetric efficiency. Simulations in Ansys® Forte® were validated with experiments at the same operating conditions with optimal spark advance, wide open throttle, a wide range of engine speed (2000–5000 rpm) and air-fuel ratio (λ) between 1 and 2. A sensitivity analysis of spark timing has been added to assess its impact on combustion variables. COG, with intermediate flame growth speed, produced the greatest power values but with lower pressure and temperature values at λ = 1.5, reducing the emissions of NO and the wall heat transfer. The useful energy released with COG was up to 16.5% and 5.1% higher than CH4 and H2, respectively. At richer and leaner mixtures (λ = 1 and λ = 2), similar performances were obtained compared to CH4 and H2, combining advantages of both pure fuels and widening the λ operation range without abnormal combustion. Therefore, suitable management of the operating conditions maximizes the conversion of the waste stream fuel energy into useful energy while limiting emissions.This research was supported by the Project, “HYLANTIC”- EAPA_204/2016, co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund within the framework of the Interreg Atlantic program and the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities (Project: RTI2018-093310-B-I00). Rafael Ortiz-Imedio thanks the Concepción Arenal postgraduate research grant from the University of Cantabria. The authors acknowledge Santander Supercomputación support group at the University of Cantabria who provided access to the supercomputer Altamira Supercomputer at the Institute of Physics of Cantabria (IFCA-CSIC), member of the Spanish Supercomputing Network, for performing simulations. The authors also acknowledge the help provided for the model development by the Engineering Department from the Public University of Navarre in Pamplona

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