Effects of oil and water contamination on natural gas engine combustion processes

Menon S, Ganti H, Niemeyer KE, Hagen CL. Journal of Natural Gas Science and Engineering 41 :30–39 (2017).


Abundant availability and potential for lower emissions are drivers for increased utilization of natural gas in automotive engines for transportation applications. A novel bimodal engine has been developed that allows on-board refueling of natural gas by utilizing the engine as a compressor. Engine compression however, results in altering the initial state of the natural gas. Increase in temperature and addition of oil are two key effects attributed to the onboard refueling process. A secondary effect is the presence of water in the natural gas supply line. This study investigates the effect of upstream conditions of natural gas on three parameters: autoignition temperature, ignition delay, and laminar flame speed. These parameters play key roles in the engine combustion process. Parametric studies are conducted by varying the initial mixture temperature, water, and oil content in the fuel. The studies utilize numerical simulations conducted with detailed chemistry for natural gas with n-heptane used as a surrogate for oil. Water addition to natural gas at 1–5% by volume did not result in any major changes in the combustion processes, other than a slight reduction in laminar flame speeds. Oil addition of 1–5% by volume reduced autoignition temperature by 5–10% and ignition delay by 27–95% depending on the initial temperature. Sensitivity analysis showed that this was likely due to decrease in the sensitivity of two recombination reactions with oil addition. Evolution profiles of key radical species also showed increasing mole fraction of the hydroperoxy radical at lower temperature that likely aids in reducing the ignition delay. Oil addition resulted in a relatively small increase in the laminar flame speed of 1.7% along with an increase in the adiabatic flame temperature. These results help inform the combustion process and performance to be expected from the bimodal engine.


  Author = {Shyam Menon and Himakar Ganti and Kyle E. Niemeyer and Christopher L. Hagen},
  Title = {Effects of oil and water contamination on natural gas engine combustion processes},
  Journal = {Journal of Natural Gas Science and Engineering},
  Pages = {30--39},
  Volume = {41},
  Year = 2017,
  doi = {10.1016/j.jngse.2017.02.038}