The new paper presents thermodynamic and optical investigations of hydrogen-enriched methane combustion, showing the potential of a hydrogen admixture as a means to decarbonize stationary power generation. The optical investigations are carried out through a fisheye optical system directly mounted into the combustion chamber, replacing one exhaust valve. All of the tests were carried out with constant fuel energy producing 16 bar indicated mean effective pressure. The engine under investigation is a port-fueled 4.8 l single-cylinder large-bore research engine. The test series compared the differences between a conventional spark plug and an unscavenged pre-chamber spark plug as an ignition system. The fuel blends under investigation are 5 and 10 Vol.-% hydrogen mixed with methane and pure natural gas acting as a reference fuel. The thermodynamic results show a beneficial influence of the hydrogen admixture on both ignition systems and for all variations concerning the lean running limit, combustion stability and indicated efficiency, with the most significant influence being visible for the tests using conventional spark plugs. With the unscavenged pre-chamber spark plug and the combustion of the 10 Vol.-% hydrogen admixture, an increase in the indicated efficiency of 0.8 % compared to NG is achievable. The natural chemiluminescence intensity traces were observed to be predominantly influenced by the air–fuel equivalence ratio. This results in a 20 % higher intensity for the unscavenged pre-chamber spark plug for the combustion of 10 Vol.-% hydrogen compared to the conventional spark plug. This is also visible in the evaluations of the flame color derived from the dewarped combustion image series. The investigation of the torch flames also shows a difference in the air–fuel equivalence ratio but not between the different fuels. The results encourage the development of hydrogen-based fuels and the potential to store sustainable energy in the form of hydrogen in existing gas grids.
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