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Thermodynamic simulation model for predicting the performance of spark ignition engines using biogas as fuel

Nunes de Faria, Mário M., Vargas Machuca Bueno, Juan P., Elmassalami Ayad, Sami M.M., Pereira Belchior, Carlos R.
Energy conversion and management 2017
biogas, combustion, developing countries, equations, fossil fuels, gas engines, greenhouse gas emissions, power generation, prediction, rural areas, sewage, simulation models, spark ignition engines, thermodynamics, Brazil
Biogas found its way from developing countries and is now an alternative to fossil fuels in internal combustion engines and with the advantage of lower greenhouse gas emissions. However, its use in gas engines requires engine modifications or adaptations that may be costly. This paper reports the results of experimental performance and emissions tests of an engine-generator unit fueled with biogas produced in a sewage plant in Brazil, operating under different loads, and with suitable engine modifications. These emissions and performance results were in agreement with the literature and it was confirmed that the penalties to engine performance were more significant than emission reduction in the operating range tested. Furthermore, a zero dimensional simulation model was employed to predict performance characteristics. Moreover, a differential thermodynamic equation system was solved, obtaining the pressure inside the cylinder as a function of the crank angle for different engine conditions. Mean effective pressure and indicated power were also obtained. The results of simulation and experimental tests of the engine in similar conditions were compared and the model validated. Although several simplifying assumptions were adopted and empirical correlations were used for Wiebe function, the model was adequate in predicting engine performance as the relative difference between simulated and experimental values was lower than 5%. The model can be adapted for use with different raw or enriched biogas compositions and could prove to be a valuable tool to guide experimentation, reducing time and resources needed. As such, it is suitable for use with biogas supplies in developing regions, such as Brazil, for small-scale power generation in rural areas.