Gas engines for domestic engine-driven heat pumps
An experimental and theoretical investigation has been undertaken into the performance of a small prototype, water-cooled, gas-fuelled engine designed for use as a domestic heat pump prime mover. In light of the application, fuel type and capacity, both experimental and theoretical study of similar engines is at best poorly documented in the literature. A comprehensive engine test facility has been set up, incorporating extensive calorimetry, a separate lubrication system, emissions monitoring and high speed data acquisition for in-cylinder pressure measurement and analysis. Two new experimental cylinder heads have been designed together with new induction and exhaust systems, both to improve performance and to enable further investigation of the combustion process. A preliminary parametric study of the combustion process established that the thermal efficiency and emission levels are strongly dependent on operational and design variables and that a lean, fast-burning combustion process in a slow speed engine coupled with careful control of other operating variables had the potential for improving efficiency, reducing emissions, and lowering frictional losses and noise levels with enhanced durability. Accordingly, new information has been obtained relating to rates of heat release, energy flows and emission levels over a wide range of design and operating conditions with utility for and consistent with an envelope of conditions appropriate to such a lean burn strategy. Modelling techniques have been developed and used as diagnostic tools in conjunction with the experimental data to investigate the influence of operating and design variables on rates of heat release and energy flows. The models have been validated using the experimental data over a wide range of operating conditions and incorporated into a thermodynamic engine model for use as a sub-model in an overall heat pump model. The experimental and theoretical programme has provided a valuable insight into the lean burn strategy and realised a considerable improvement in the performance of the prototype engine. The theoretical study benefits from a new approach to small gas engine design and development.