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Title:
GASEOUS FUEL COMBUSTION
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/075241
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
In an internal combustion engine, gaseous fuel is injected in a first injection through a pre-combustion chamber into the combustion chamber to mix with air in the combustion chamber. The pre-combustion chamber has a jet aperture in fluid communication between the pre-combustion chamber and the combustion chamber. Mixed gaseous fuel and air is then ingested into the pre-combustion chamber from the combustion chamber and ignited. In a second injection, injecting gaseous fuel into the pre-combustion chamber and expelling, with the second injection, ignited gaseous fuel and air from the pre-combustion chamber through the jet aperture and into the combustion chamber as a flaming jet with a core of gaseous fuel.

Inventors:
HAMPSON, Gregory James (420 Alpine Way, Boulder, Colorado, 80304, US)
CHIERA, Domenico (7709 Vantage View Place, Fort Collins, Colorado, 80525, US)
Application Number:
US2016/059159
Publication Date:
May 04, 2017
Filing Date:
October 27, 2016
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
WOODWARD, INC. (1000 East Drake Road, Fort Collins, Colorado, 80525, US)
International Classes:
F02M21/02; F02D19/02; F02P13/00
Domestic Patent References:
WO2015138987A12015-09-17
Foreign References:
US20130206122A12013-08-15
US20150167576A12015-06-18
KR20140117152A2014-10-07
US20140032081A12014-01-30
US20140190437A12014-07-10
US8584648B22013-11-19
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MUSSELMAN, JR., P. Weston et al. (Fish & Richardson P.C, P.O. Box 1022Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55440-1022, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:

1. A method of combusting gaseous fuel in a combustion chamber of an internal combustion engine, the method comprising:

injecting, in a first injection, gaseous fuel into the internal combustion engine to mix with air in the combustion chamber, the internal combustion engine comprising a pre-combustion chamber having a jet aperture in fluid

communication between the pre-combustion chamber and the combustion chamber;

after the first injection, igniting, in the pre-combustion chamber, mixed gaseous fuel and air ingested into the pre-combustion chamber from the combustion chamber; and

after the igniting, injecting, in a second injection, gaseous fuel into the pre- combustion chamber and expelling, with the second injection, ignited gaseous fuel and air from the pre-combustion chamber through the jet aperture and into the combustion chamber as a flaming jet with a core of gaseous fuel.

2. The method of claim 1, further comprising injecting, in a third injection after the second injection, gaseous fuel through the pre-combustion chamber into the combustion chamber.

3. The method of claim 2, where the quantity of gaseous fuel injected in the first injection is larger than injected in the third injection, and the quantity of fuel injected in the third injection is larger than injected in the second injection.

4. The method of claim 2 or claim 3, where the internal combustion engine is a reciprocating engine comprising a piston in the combustion chamber, and

where injecting, in the third injection, gaseous fuel comprises injecting, in the third injection, gaseous fuel after the piston has passed compression top dead center.

5. The method of claim 4, where injecting, in the second injection, gaseous fuel comprises injecting, in the second injection, gaseous fuel before the piston has passed compression top dead center.

6. The method of claim 3, where the first, second and third injection comprise all of the gaseous fuel injected during a cycle of the engine.

7. The method of any of claims 1-3, or 6, where a majority of the fuel injected in the first and second injection is injected in the first injection.

8. The method of claim 1, where the engine is a reciprocating engine comprising a piston in the combustion chamber, and the first and second injections are injected before compression top dead center.

9. The method of claim 1, where the flaming jet is diffusion combustion.

10. The method of any of claims 1-3, 6, 8, or 9, where injecting, in a first injection, gaseous fuel into the internal combustion engine comprises injecting, in a first injection, gaseous fuel through the pre-combustion chamber into the internal combustion engine.

11. A system, comprising:

an engine fuel injector-igniter assembly adapted for installation to an engine in fluid communication with a combustion chamber of the engine, the injector-igniter assembly comprising an enclosure defining a pre-combustion chamber enclosing an outlet of a gaseous fuel injector and an igniter and comprising a jet aperture in fluid communication between the interior of the pre-combustion chamber and the exterior of the pre-combustion chamber;

a controller adapted to communicatively couple to the injector-igniter assembly, the controller adapted to:

signal the injector-igniter assembly to inject a first injection of gaseous fuel through the pre-combustion chamber into the combustion chamber via the jet aperture;

after the first injection, signal the injector-igniter assembly to ignite, in the pre-combustion chamber, mixed gaseous fuel and air ingested into the pre- combustion chamber from the combustion chamber; and

after the ignition, signal the injector-igniter assembly to inject a second injection of gaseous fuel into the pre-combustion chamber and expel, with the second injection, ignited gaseous fuel and air from the pre-combustion chamber through the jet aperture and into the combustion chamber as a flaming jet with a core of gaseous fuel.

12. The system of claim 11, where the controller is further adapted to signal the injector-igniter assembly to inject a third injection of gaseous fuel into the pre- combustion chamber, the third injection being a smaller quantity of fuel than the first injection and a greater quantity of fuel than the second injection.

13. The system of claim 12, where the controller is adapted to signal the injector-igniter assembly to inject the first injection and second injection of gaseous fuel before compression top dead center and the third injection of gaseous fuel after top dead center.

14. The system of claim 12 or claim 13, where the controller is adapted to inject all the fuel injected into the engine during a cycle in the first, second and third injections.

15. The system of claim 11, where the injector-igniter assembly is generally elongate and the enclosure comprises a plurality of jet apertures, and where at least one of the jet apertures is oriented laterally and one of the jet apertures is oriented axially.

16. The system of any of claims 11-13 or 15, where the enclosure defines an axial interior passage extending from a jet aperture to the remainder of the pre- combustion chamber, where the greatest transverse dimension of the passage is smaller than the greatest transverse dimension of the remainder of the pre- combustion chamber.

17. A method, comprising:

injecting gaseous fuel into an engine to mix with air in a main combustion chamber of the engine; after the injecting, igniting, in a pre-combustion chamber, mixed gaseous fuel and air ingested into the pre-combustion chamber from the main combustion chamber; and

after the igniting, injecting gaseous fuel into the pre-combustion chamber forming a flaming jet with a core of gaseous fuel in the main combustion chamber.

18. The method of claim 17, comprising injecting gaseous fuel into the pre- combustion chamber to compete the total fuel charge supplied to the combustion chamber in a cycle of the engine.

19. The method of claim 17 or claim 18, where injecting gaseous fuel into the pre-combustion chamber forming a flaming jet with a core of gaseous fuel in the main combustion chamber comprises injecting less gaseous fuel than in the first mentioned injecting.

Description:
Gaseous Fuel Combustion

CLAIM OF PRIORITY

This application claims priority to U.S. Patent Application No. 14/927,327 filed on October 29, 2015, the entire contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND

The concepts herein relate to gaseous fuel combustion for internal combustion engines.

There is a push to utilize natural gas as an engine fuel due to its low cost. Relative to diesel fuel, for instance, natural gas is a lower cost fuel per energy. To take advantage of the lower cost of natural gas, many engines are designed specifically to run on natural gas. Additionally, some engines originally designed to use diesel fuel can be retrofitted to use natural gas as fuel.

Diesel engines have high compression ratios and use compression ignition to ignite the diesel fuel charge. Natural gas is typically ignited with a spark plug.

However, the ignition energy from the spark plug does not always effectively ignite the natural gas at high compression ratios, particularly at lean operating conditions. For example, the high velocity of the direct-injected natural gas tends to quench the developing flame kernel. To remedy this, some systems forgo a spark plug and use diesel fuel as a pilot fuel. In other words, these systems inject a small amount of diesel fuel as a pilot fuel early in the compression cycle that auto-ignites from the compression. Natural gas is then by injected and ignited by the combusting pilot fuel. However, a natural gas system using diesel as a pilot fuel requires two fuel systems and associated piping, storage, injectors, etc., which can increase cost, size, complexity and makes retrofitting difficult.

DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic side cross-sectional view of a portion of an internal combustion engine system;

FIG. 2 is a schematic of an example engine system;

FIG 3 is a timing diagram of engine cycle;

FIGS. 4A-4D are sequential cross-sectional views of a portion of an internal combustion engine during an engine cycle; and FIG 5 shows a diagram of the heat release rate of an example combustion implementing multiple ignition events.

Like reference symbols in the various drawings indicate like elements.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG 1 shows a cross-section of a portion of an example internal combustion engine system 100. The example engine system 100 includes an internal combustion engine 101 that is a reciprocating engine and includes a head 102, a block 122, and a piston 104. The piston 104 is located inside a cylinder defined inside the block 122. The piston 104 is carried to reciprocate inside the cylinder during engine operation and its movement drives a crank (not shown) and movement of the crank drives the piston 104. A main combustion chamber 106 is a volume located inside the cylinder between the head 102 and the piston 104, and is bounded by the block 122. FIG 1 is a cross- section of one piston 104 in a cylinder. The engine 101, however, can include one, two or more similar pistons 104 in a cylinder coupled to the crank.

The example internal combustion engine 101 includes an air intake passage 108 with intake valve 110 and an exhaust passage 112 with exhaust valve 114. The passages 108, 112 are in the head 102 adjacent to the main combustion chamber 106, and the valves 110, 114 form part of the walls of the main combustion chamber 106. The intake valve 110 opens to admit air and a fuel injector 125 operates to inject fuel to form the air/fuel mixture in the main combustion chamber 106. After combustion, the exhaust valve 114 opens to exhaust combustion residuals out of the main combustion chamber 106 and into the exhaust passage 112. Although the concepts herein are described herein with respect to a reciprocating internal combustion engine, the concepts could be applied to other internal combustion engine configurations.

The example internal combustion engine 101 includes an example engine fuel injector-igniter assembly 116. The engine fuel injector-igniter assembly 116 includes a fuel injector 125 and an example igniter plug 124. The fuel injector 125 is arranged for direct injection, meaning that the injector 125 injects fuel directly into the combustion chamber (here, the main combustion chamber 106 and a pre-combustion chamber 120), rather than into or upstream from the air intake passage 108. In certain instances, the engine 101 can additionally include an injector or other fueling device, not arranged for direct injection, that is coupled to a source of gaseous fuel to introduce the fuel into or upstream from the air intake passage 108. The example injector-igniter assembly 116 is a generally elongate enclosure located in the head 102 and is threadingly and/or otherwise coupled to the head 102. In some instances, the injector-igniter assembly 116 can extend into the main combustion chamber 106, be flush with a wall of combustion chamber 106, or be recessed from a wall of main combustion chamber 106. The example igniter plug 124 is received inside the example injector-igniter assembly 116 and is coupled to the injector-igniter assembly 116 threadingly and/or otherwise. The injector-igniter assembly 116 defines an outer enclosure around the igniter plug 124 and the fuel injector 125.

A pre-combustion chamber 120 encloses an outlet of the fuel injector 125 and the igniter 124. FIG. 1 shows the pre-combustion chamber 120 as an outer chamber inside the injector-igniter assembly 116 adjacent to but separate from the main combustion chamber 106. However, in some instances, the pre-combustion chamber 120 can be formed in the head 102 itself and the injector-igniter assembly 116 can be omitted or the pre-combustion chamber 120 can be integrated with the igniter plug 124 (e.g., in a common or conjoined housing or enclosure). The pre-combustion chamber 120 is shown having a generally symmetrical cylindrical shape about the centerline of the injector-igniter assembly 116, but in other instances the pre-chamber 120 could be an asymmetrical shape. In some instances, the centerline of the pre-chamber 120 coincides with the centerline of the injector-igniter assembly 116, but in other instances the pre-chamber is offset or at a non-parallel angle relative to the centerline of the injector-igniter assembly 116.

The example injector-igniter assembly 116 includes jet apertures 118a-c. The jet apertures 118a-c are in fluid communication between the interior of the pre- chamber 120 and the exterior of the pre-chamber 120. Three jet apertures 118a-c are visible in this cross section, yet fewer or more could be provided. The jet apertures 118a-c converge to a central passage 126 that opens into the pre-combustion chamber 120. The central passage 126 is an axial interior passage that extends fromjet apertures 118a-c, along the centerline of the injector-igniter assembly 116, to the pre-combustion chamber 120. The central passage 126 channels flow along the centerline of the injector-igniter assembly 116, and as shown, the greatest transverse dimension of the passage 126 is smaller than the greatest transverse dimension of the remainder of the pre-combustion chamber 120. The jet apertures 118a-c can number one or more, including one or more that are laterally oriented (e.g., jet apertures 118a-b) and/or one or more that are axially oriented (e.g., jet aperture 118c), and can be located on the injector-igniter assembly 116 in a symmetric or asymmetric partem. The j et apertures 118a-c allow charge, flame, and residuals to flow between the inj ector-igniter assembly 120 and the main combustion chamber 106. As discussed in more detail below, air/fuel mixture from combustion chamber 106 is ingested into the

precombustion chamber 120 through the jet apertures 118a-c and the central passage 126 operates to channel the flow along the centerline of the injector-igniter assembly 116 to the igniter plug 124. In certain instances, the central passage 126 channels the flow of air/fuel mixture directly into the ignition gap of the igniter plug 124 and/or through a center jet aperture of an enclosure around the ignition gap of the igniter plug 124. Then, after the air/fuel mixture in the pre-chamber 120 is ignited, the jet apertures 118a-c and central passage 126 operate as j et passages to nozzle combusting air/fuel mixture from the pre-chamber 120 into divergent flame j ets that reach deep into the main combustion chamber 106 and ignite the fuel in the main combustion chamber 106.

The fuel injector 125 is coupled to a fuel source (not shown) of one or more gaseous fuels (e.g., gaseous methane, natural gas, biogas, landfill gas, propane or other gaseous fuels or short chain hydrocarbons referred to as fuel gas) and is configured to directly inject the gaseous fuel into the pre-chamber 120 during the compression stroke of the piston 104. The lateral jet apertures 118a-b can be oriented more laterally than axially or at a 45 degree angle to axially to reduce amount of fuel injected into the main combustion chamber 106 that is directed into or collects in the comers or crevices at the interface between the piston 104 and the combustion chamber 106. Additionally or alternatively, the diameter of the axial jet aperture 118c can be made relatively larger than the diameters of the lateral jet apertures 118a-b, so that a smaller portion of the injected fuel flows through each of the lateral j et apertures 118a-b than through the central axial passage 118c to distribute the fuel more homogenously in the main combustion chamber 106.

The igniter plug 124 is a device configured to initiate a flame kernel to ignite the air/fuel mixture in the combustion chamber 106, such as a spark plug, hot surface igniter, laser igniter, and/or other type of igniter. In some implementations, the igniter plug 124 includes an additional enclosure separate from the pre-chamber 120 that forms a chamber enclosing the location of ignition. Some examples of igniter plugs that could be used as igniter plug 124 are described in US 2014/0190437, entitled "Quiescent Chamber Hot Gas Igniter," and US 8,584,648, entitled "Controlled Spark Ignited Flame Kernel Flow." Other configurations of igniter are also within the concepts herein.

The example engine system 100 also includes a controller 150 that is communicatively coupled to the injector-igniter assembly 116. The controller 150 can send signals to the injector-igniter assembly 116 to inject fuel through the fuel injector 125 into the pre-combustion chamber 120. In some implementations, the controller 150 signals the injector-igniter assembly 116 to inject fuel multiple times as multiple separate fuel injection events. The controller 150 can time the signals such that the fuel is injected for a particular duration of time. The controller 150 can also signal the igniter plug 124 to ignite the mixed fuel and air in the pre-chamber 120. The controller 150 can send signals of different types in any order. For example, the controller 150 can send one or more signals to inject fuel and send one or more of signals to operate the igniter. In some implementations, the controller 150 simultaneously sends signals to inject fuel and signals to ignite. The controller 150 can be included as part of the engine system 100 or as part of the injector-igniter assembly 116 or as part of another system.

FIG. 2 shows a schematic of controller 150 that is communicatively coupled to an example engine 101. The controller 150 can send signals to the engine 101 to trigger fuel injection and/or ignition events. The controller 150 includes a memory 252 and a processor 254. The memory 252 is a computer-readable medium that stores instructions, such as instructions to perform the methods described herein, that are operable to be performed by the processor 254. The processor 254, for example, can be a computer, circuitry, a microprocessor, or another type of data processing apparatus. In some implementations, some or all of the controller 150 is integrated with the engine system 100.

The example engine fuel injector-igniter assembly 116 can enable the engine 100 to operate using a gaseous fuel without a second fuel (e.g., pilot fuel) of a different type. For example, the injector-igniter assembly 116 can allow the engine 101 to operate using a gaseous fuel (e.g., natural gas) without also using a diesel fuel as a pilot fuel. In some cases, the injector-igniter assembly 116 can be installed or retrofit onto a diesel engine to enable the engine to operate using all gaseous fuel. For example, the head of a diesel engine could be replaced with another head that includes an inj ector-igniter assembly such as injector-igniter assembly 1 16. Alternately, an injector-igniter assembly 116 could replace the injection system of a diesel engine, or an inj ector-igniter assembly 1 16 could be installed along with an existing inj ection system. In this manner, an all-diesel engine or a partly-diesel engine can be converted to an all-gaseous-fuel engine by using an injector-igniter assembly while retaining the diesel compression ratio during engine operation.

Referring now to FIGS. 3 and 4A-D, the injector-igniter assembly injects gaseous fuel at multiple separate instances to facilitate combustion. FIG. 3 shows a timing diagram of an example sequence 300 of a portion of an engine cycle including fuel injections 302, 306, 310 and an ignition event 304. Were it shown in full, in a four stroke engine, the entire engine cycle includes intake of air, compression of the combustion chamber contents, a power stroke where the piston in forced downward by combustion of the air/fuel charge, and exhaust where the contents of the combustion chamber are exhausted. The fuel inj ections 302, 306, 310 and the ignition event 304 can, for example, be triggered by signals from a controller 150. FIGS. 4A-D show portions of a cycle of an engine 400 that is substantially similar to example engine 101 shown in FIG. 1. For example, the engine 400 includes an injector-igniter assembly 410 that includes a gaseous fuel inj ector 412 and an igniter plug 414. The engine 400 also includes a pre-combustion chamber 430 that is fiuidly connected to the combustion chamber 402 through a central passage 432 and jet apertures 426.

A first fuel injection 302 through the injector 412 occurs before the ignition event 304 and before the piston has reached top dead center 308 to charge the combustion chamber with a majority of its total fuel charge for the engine cycle. At this stage, the total air charge for the engine cycle has been admitted into the combustion chamber or is being admitted, and the fuel flows out of the pre-combustion chamber through the jet apertures 426 to mix with the air in the main combustion chamber. Alternatively, or in combination with an injection through injector 412, the first fuel injection 302 can be introduced through the air intake, for example, via a fuel injector or other fueling device that introduces fuel into or upstream of the air intake. In certain instances, the first ignition event 302 begins at -150 degrees from compression top dead center 308 (i.e., where the piston is at its highest point on its compression stroke), and then injection of fuel is ceased. However, the first ignition event 302 can occur at other times relative to compression top dead center 308. The quantity of fuel injected during the first fuel injection 302 is intended to provide a majority of the fuel charge for the engine cycle, yet keep the resulting air/fuel mixture below the pre-ignition threshold. In certain instances, 60%, 70%, 80%, or some other majority fraction of the total injected fuel in one engine cycle is injected. In certain instances, the air/fuel ratio in the main combustion chamber is lambda 1.5 or higher, where lambda is the ratio of ratio the actual air/fuel ratio to the stoichiometric ratio. FIG. 4A shows the portion of the engine 400 cycle at which the fuel injected at the first fuel injection 302 jets through the pre-combustion chamber 430 into the combustion chamber 402 through the jet apertures 426. As the first fuel injection 302 occurs before the ignition event 304, the fuel jetted into the combustion chamber 430 combines and mixes with the air in the combustion chamber 402. Because the resulting air/fuel mixture is below the pre-ignition threshold, it does not substantially pre-ignite due to heat and compression in the combustion chamber.

The first fuel injection 302 is phased such that the piston movement in compression drives the air/fuel mixture to be ingested from the combustion chamber 402 through the jet apertures 426 and into the pre-chamber 430. Some residual fuel from the first injection 302 remains in the pre-chamber 430 and enriches the air/fuel mixture ingested from the main combustion chamber. FIG. 4B shows example engine 400 during the compression cycle of the engine cycle in which the air/fuel mixture is driven into the pre-chamber 430. The central passage 432 channels, as shown in FIGS. 4A-D, the ingested air/fuel mixture to impinge on the igniter plug 414 and causes the incoming air/fuel mixture to turbulently circulate and mix in the pre-combustion chamber 430. In some cases, the jet apertures 426 can meet with the central passage 432 at an angle that smoothly transitions incoming flow through the jet apertures 426 into the central passage 432, for example, to reduce velocity losses into the pre- chamber 430.

At some time after the first fuel injection 302 and before the piston reaches top dead center 308, an ignition event 304 is triggered to begin igniting the air/fuel mixture in the pre-chamber 430. The ignition of the air/fuel mixture in the pre-chamber 430 is protected from the high velocity in the main combustion chamber. In certain instances, the ignition event can occur at -10 degrees (or some other time) from top dead center 308. With reference to engine 400 in FIGS. 4A-C, the ignition event 304 ignites the mixed gaseous fuel and air ingested into the pre-combustion chamber 430 from the combustion chamber 402. The increased pressure created in the pre-chamber 430 by the combustion causes the combusting air/fuel mixture to jet out the jet apertures 426 as flames and into the combustion chamber 402. The air/fuel mixture ignited in the pre-chamber 430 producing flame jets 424a, 424b operates like a "pilot charge" that ignites the mixture in the main combustion chamber.

After the ignition event 304, a second fuel inj ection 306 is triggered to provide additional fuel to the flaming jets produced by igniting the air/fuel mixture in the pre- chamber 430. The second fuel injection 306 enriches the mixture in the pre-chamber 430 for improved ignitability. The second fuel inj ection 306 occurs before compression top dead center 308, quickly after the ignition event 304, and contains a fraction of the remaining fuel to be injected during a cycle. After the second fuel inj ection 306, injection of fuel is paused to allow the flame in the pre-chamber 430 and jetting from the pre-chamber 430 to stabilize and grow. The amount of fuel in the second injection 306 is selected to be small enough that it tends to not quench the combusting mixture in the pre-chamber 430. In certain instances, if the first fuel injection 302 contains 70% of the total fuel to be injected during a cycle, the second fuel injection 306 may contain only 5% of the fuel to be injected. These are example proportions of fuel, of course; actual proportions of fuel can depend on the engine, the application, the desired combustion characteristics, or other factors. In certain instances, the second injection occurs at -5 degrees from top dead center 308 as shown in FIG 3.

FIG 4C shows the example engine 400 just after the second fuel injection 306. The second fuel injection 306 has injected fuel 420 behind the combustion air/fuel mixture 422, also aiding in expelling a portion of the ignited and air/fuel mixture 422 from the pre-combustion chamber through the jet apertures 426. FIG 4D shows the engine 400 after the fuel 420 from the second fuel injection 306 has filled the pre- chamber and driven the flaming jets 424a, 424b out of the pre-chamber. As the fuel 420 flows through the jet apertures 426, the core of the flaming jets 424a, 424b are filled with the un-combusted fuel 420 from the second fuel injection 306. The flaming jets 424a, 424b ignite the cores of fuel 420 as a diffusion flame. Diffusion combustion is a relatively slow combustion, as the combustion is limited by the rate of diffusion of the air into the fuel, and thus can provide a slower, more controlled combustion event. The slower diffusion combustion occurring in the flaming jets 424a, 424b allows the flaming jets to combust more slowly to be more robust, stronger flames than flaming jets without a core of air/fuel mixture and diffusion combustion.

A third fuel injection 310 is then triggered to provide the remainder of the total fuel charge for the engine cycle. The third fuel injection 310 can occur after the piston has passed compression top dead center 308. In certain instances, the third fuel injection 310 occurs at +5 degrees from top dead center 308 as shown in FIG 3. In some implementations, the third fuel injection 310 injects a quantity of fuel less than that of the first fuel injection 302 but larger than that of the second fuel injection 306. The third fuel inj ection 310 injects the remainder of the fuel used in a cycle of the engine, such that the first injection 302, second injection 306, and third injection 310 encompasses all of the gaseous fuel injected during a cycle of the engine. For example, the first fuel injection 302 can contain 70% of the total fuel to be injected, the second fuel injection 306 can contain 5% of the fuel, and the third fuel injection can contain the remaining 25% of the fuel. The third fuel injection 310 can be delayed a duration after the second fuel inj ection 306 (e.g., 5-10 crank angle degrees or another duration) to allow the flames to grow and move away from the injector 412. In certain instances, all or a portion of the third fuel injection 310 feeds the fuel core of the flaming jets 424a, 424b and then combusts in a diffusion flame.

In some implementations, the second and third injection 306, 310 events are combined into the second fuel injection 306 to provide benefits or characteristics of a third fuel inj ection 310, and a third fuel injection 310 is not used. In such an example, the second fuel injection 306 occurs after compression top dead center 308 and includes the remainder of the fuel injected during a cycle of the engine. For example, if the first fuel injection 302 contains 70% of the total fuel to be injected during a cycle, the second fuel injection 306 can contain the remaining 30% of the fuel.

FIG 5 shows a diagram 500 of the heat release rate of an example combustion implementing multiple ignition events as described in FIG 3 and as implemented in engine 100 and engine 400 with an injector-igniter assembly. The heat release rate curve 502 is plotted against the crank angle degrees of an engine cycle. The curve 502 shows that the heat release rate increases rapidly after the second fuel inj ection 306 that occurs at -5 degrees from top dead center 308. In particular, the heat release rate increases the most rapidly approximately between top dead center 308 and the third ignition event 310 at +5 degrees. The diagram 500 indicates that the use of multiple injection events and an injector-igniter assembly as described can enable rapid combustion of gaseous fuel used in a diesel engine.

In a first aspect, a method of combusting gaseous fuel in a combustion chamber of an internal combustion engine comprises:

injecting, in a first inj ection, gaseous fuel into the internal combustion engine to mix with air in the combustion chamber, the internal combustion engine comprising a pre-combustion chamber having a j et aperture in fluid communication between the pre-combustion chamber and the combustion chamber;

after the first injection, igniting, in the pre-combustion chamber, mixed gaseous fuel and air ingested into the pre-combustion chamber from the combustion chamber; and

after the igniting, injecting, in a second injection, gaseous fuel into the pre- combustion chamber and expelling, with the second injection, ignited gaseous fuel and air from the pre-combustion chamber through the jet aperture and into the combustion chamber as a flaming jet with a core of gaseous fuel.

In a second aspect according to a first aspect, the method further comprises injecting, in a third injection after the second injection, gaseous fuel through the pre- combustion chamber into the combustion chamber.

In a third aspect according to the second aspect, the quantity of gaseous fuel injected in the first injection is larger than injected in the third inj ection, and the quantity of fuel injected in the third inj ection is larger than injected in the second injection.

In a fourth aspect according to second aspect or the third aspect, the internal combustion engine is a reciprocating engine comprising a piston in the combustion chamber, and

where injecting, in the third injection, gaseous fuel comprises injecting, in the third injection, gaseous fuel after the piston has passed compression top dead center.

In a fifth aspect according to the fourth aspect, the method where injecting, in the second injection, gaseous fuel comprises injecting, in the second injection, gaseous fuel before the piston has passed compression top dead center. In a sixth aspect according to the third aspect, the method where the first, second and third injection comprise all of the gaseous fuel injected during a cycle of the engine.

In a seventh aspect, according any one of the first through third or sixth aspect, the method where a majority of the fuel injected in the first and second injection is injected in the first injection.

In an eighth aspect according to the first aspect, the engine is a reciprocating engine comprising a piston in the combustion chamber, and the first and second injections are injected before compression top dead center.

In a ninth aspect according to the first aspect, the flaming jet is diffusion combustion.

In a tenth aspect according to any one of the first through third aspect, the sixth aspect, the eighth aspect or the ninth aspect, where injecting, in a first injection, gaseous fuel into the internal combustion engine comprises injecting, in a first injection, gaseous fuel through the pre-combustion chamber into the internal combustion engine.

In an eleventh aspect, the system comprises an engine fuel injector-igniter assembly adapted for installation to an engine in fluid communication with a combustion chamber of the engine, the injector-igniter assembly comprising an enclosure defining a pre-combustion chamber enclosing an outlet of a gaseous fuel injector and an igniter and comprising a jet aperture in fluid communication between the interior of the pre-combustion chamber and the exterior of the pre-combustion chamber; a controller adapted to communicatively couple to the injector-igniter assembly, the controller adapted to:

signal the injector-igniter assembly to inject a first injection of gaseous fuel through the pre-combustion chamber into the combustion chamber via the jet aperture;

after the first injection, signal the injector-igniter assembly to ignite, in the pre-combustion chamber, mixed gaseous fuel and air ingested into the pre- combustion chamber from the combustion chamber; and

after the ignition, signal the injector-igniter assembly to inject a second injection of gaseous fuel into the pre-combustion chamber and expel, with the second injection, ignited gaseous fuel and air from the pre-combustion chamber through the jet aperture and into the combustion chamber as a flaming jet with a core of gaseous fuel.

In a twelfth aspect according to the eleventh aspect, the controller is further adapted to signal the injector-igniter assembly to inject a third injection of gaseous fuel into the pre-combustion chamber, the third injection being a smaller quantity of fuel than the first inj ection and a greater quantity of fuel than the second injection.

In a thirteenth aspect according to the twelfth aspect, the controller of the system is adapted to signal the injector-igniter assembly to inject the first inj ection and second injection of gaseous fuel before compression top dead center and the third injection of gaseous fuel after top dead center.

In a fourteenth aspect according to any one of the twelfth or thirteenth aspects, the controller is adapted to inject all the fuel inj ected into the engine during a cycle in the first, second and third injections.

In a fifteenth aspect according to the eleventh aspect, the injector-igniter assembly is generally elongate and the enclosure comprises a plurality of jet apertures, and where at least one of the jet apertures is oriented laterally and one of the jet apertures is oriented axially.

In a sixteenth aspect according to any one of the eleventh through thirteenth aspects or the fifteenth aspect, the enclosure defines an axial interior passage extending from a jet aperture to the remainder of the pre-combustion chamber, and the greatest transverse dimension of the passage is smaller than the greatest transverse dimension of the remainder of the pre-combustion chamber.

In a seventeenth aspect, a method comprises injecting gaseous fuel into an engine to mix with air in a main combustion chamber of the engine; after the injecting, igniting, in a pre-combustion chamber, mixed gaseous fuel and air ingested into the pre-combustion chamber from the main combustion chamber; and after the igniting, injecting gaseous fuel into the pre-combustion chamber forming a flaming jet with a core of gaseous fuel in the main combustion chamber.

In an eighteenth aspect according to the seventeenth aspect, the method further comprises injecting gaseous fuel into the pre-combustion chamber to compete the total fuel charge supplied to the combustion chamber in a cycle of the engine.

In a nineteenth aspect according to the seventh aspect or the eighteenth aspect, the method comprises injecting gaseous fuel into the pre-combustion chamber forming a flaming jet with a core of gaseous fuel in the main combustion chamber comprises injecting less gaseous fuel than in the first mentioned injecting.

A number of implementations have been described. Nevertheless, it will be understood that various modifications may be made. Accordingly, other implementations are within the scope of the following claims.