TECHNICAL PAPERS: Internal Combustion Engines

Feasibility Study of an On-Board Natural Gas to Dimethyl Ether Reactor for Dimethyl Ether Preinjection and Enhanced Ignition

[+] Author and Article Information
David Horstman, Duane Abata, Jason Keith, Leroy Oberto

 Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931

J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power 127(4), 909-917 (Sep 23, 2004) (9 pages) doi:10.1115/1.1924433 History: Received January 20, 2003; Revised September 23, 2004

Dual fuel (CI) engines provide an excellent means of maintaining high thermal efficiency and power while reducing emissions. This is particularly true in situations where the main CI fuel does not exhibit good autoignition characteristics, such as diesel engines operating on natural gas usually in stationary applications such as a pipeline installation. This paper explores the feasibility of chemically synthesizing DME from natural gas “on-board” and using it as an ignition source for a dual fuel engine. Conversion from diesel to dual fuel operation merits substantial benefits in PM emission reduction. Assuming a 5% pilot amount, a “once through” process has been modeled and a first law analysis (using practical isentropic efficiencies) demonstrates that this combined system can be operated with a reduction of between 5%–10% of the equivalent diesel efficiency. Significant quantities (30vol%) of hydrogen are introduced to the natural gas as a byproduct of the DME synthesis process. The corresponding increase in combustion efficiency must be validated by experiments to determine DME and H2 requirements for successful pilot ignition of the natural gas/H2 mixture.

Copyright © 2005 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

Comparable diesel (CI) and natural gas (SI) engines

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Figure 2

Indirect DME synthesis from natural gas

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Figure 5

Equilibrium conversion of methanol to DME

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Figure 6

Process diagram of DME synthesis from methane

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Figure 7

Ignition limits in the engine for mixtures of DME, methanol, and water (Sorenson ) (8)

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Figure 8

DME synthesis for pilot injection of natural gas

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Figure 9

Thermal efficiency versus excess air (Søgard (27))

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Figure 3

Methane equilibrium conversion to synthesis gas via steam reforming (CH4toCO+CO2)

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Figure 4

Equilibrium conversion of (H2:CO=3:1) synthesis gas to methanol



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