Computational investigation of methanol pre-chamber combustion in a heavy-duty engine

Xinlei Liu*, Priybrat Sharma, Mickael Silva, Abdullah S. AlRamadan, Emre Cenker, Qinglong Tang, Gaetano Magnotti, Hong G. Im

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This work explored the potential of methanol pre-chamber combustion (PCC) for heavy-duty engine applications. An optical engine experiment was conducted to visualize the jet flame development. The measured pressure traces and natural flame luminosity images were also used for the validation of three-dimensional computational fluid dynamics simulations. It was demonstrated that the main chamber (MC) combustion was successfully established by the reactive jet issued from the pre-chamber. Compared to methane PCC in our previous study, the distributed reacting jets were significantly thinner, in particular at the learner condition. The active PCC mode, which comprises enrichment of the mixture in the pre-chamber (PC) by means of direct methane injection, was effective in improving the engine performance. However, excessive PC fueling ratio (PCFR) resulted in lower thermal efficiency due to the higher wall heat transfer and combustion losses. In addition, the effects of various PC and piston geometries on the methanol/methane PC combustion were evaluated. The combination of an optimized PC and a flat piston yielded the highest thermal efficiency owing to the relatively lower combustion and wall heat transfer losses. At engine loads higher than 12.5 bar indicated mean effective pressure, exhaust gas recirculation must be implemented to avoid end-gas autoignition and reduce nitric oxides (NOx) emissions. As expected, the increase in (CR) further promoted engine work because of the higher expansion ratio. With CR of 13 and 14, higher thermal efficiency and lower NOx emission were simultaneously achieved under both intermediate and high loads when the engine was operating at the pure methanol PC combustion mode.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100192
JournalApplications in Energy and Combustion Science
StatePublished - Sep 2023


  • Dual fuel
  • Jet flame
  • Lean-burn
  • Methanol
  • Optical diagnostics
  • Pre-chamber engine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy (miscellaneous)


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