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Natural gas engines can range from small light-duty engines to low speed two-stoke marine engines of over 60 MW. The dominant engine cycle could be either Otto or Diesel, using several different techniques of mixture preparation and ignition. Most commercial and development natural gas engines can be categorized into four types of technology: (1) stoichiometric Otto cycle engines; (2) lean burn, Otto cycle engines; (3) dual fuel mixed cycle (combination of Otto and Diesel) engines, and (4) diesel cycle natural gas engines. These technologies exhibit differences in thermal efficiency, performance, and aftertreatment requirements.
The low cost of natural gas relative to diesel and gasoline combined with various emissions related regulatory measures continues to created significant interest in natural gas as an alternative fuel for internal combustion engines. Engine makes have responded by supplying new, purpose built natural gas engines in sizes ranging from small light-duty engines of a few kW to low speed two-stoke marine engines of over 60 MW. OEMs and aftermarket suppliers also provide conversion kits that allow existing diesel and gasoline engines to be converted to operate on natural gas.
Natural gas engines can be categorized based on numerous parameters including: mixture preparation (premixed or non-premixed), ignition (spark ignition or diesel pilot) and the dominant engine cycle (Otto or Diesel). One common categorization is, Figure
Premixed charge, spark ignition, natural gas only Premixed charge, diesel pilot ignition, natural gas/diesel dual fuel High pressure direct injection of natural gas, diesel pilot ignition, natural gas/diesel dual fuel