Development and Demonstration of a Production-Intent Transient Plasma Ignition System for High Efficiency Natural Gas Engines
Increasing efficiency of heavy-duty natural gas engines with non-thermal plasma ignition
The researchers improved on their initial design by increasing the frequency of pulses from 20 kHz to 100 kHz. The multi cylinder prototype underwent system level testing before being sent to Argonne National Laboratory. Unexpected issues due to electromagnetic interference were resolved with redesigns using custom electronics instead of off-the-shelf components. Without updating the engine fuel maps, the testing at Argonne National Lab on the ISX12N demonstrated stable operation at 22 percent EGR, greater than 2 percent improved brake thermal efficiency, 10 percent reduction of carbon monoxide emissions, and 30 percent reduction of NOx emissions. Further optimization of the fuel maps would enable additional efficiency gains. Test results were shared with engine manufacturers and Tier 1 suppliers. The final report is published on the CEC website.View Final Report
This project developed a production intent prototype of a non-thermal plasma ignition system that can reduce maintenance requirements, improve engine efficiency, and reduce emissions of heavy-duty on-road natural gas engines. The project builds on previous research work that validated the benefits of this technology in single cylinder test engines by focusing on developing a multi-cylinder system. The prototype was tested at Argonne National Laboratory across the operating range of a commercially available low NOx emission natural gas engine: the Cummins Westport ISX12N. The researchers evaluated the test results to determine immediate benefits as well as further opportunities to optimize the engine using the transient plasma ignition system.
Transient plasma ignition does not rely on high-energy thermal ignition, reducing the impact of erosion and maintenance needs compared to conventional spark plugs.
The engine testing showed a 30 percent reduction in NOx emissions, 10 percent reduction and CO emissions, and 2 percent improvement in engine efficiency. Additional CO2 emission reductions are possible with fuel map optimization.
Key Project Members
Argonne National Laboratory
Cummins Westport, Inc.