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2009GMC Paper

Saving Fuel in Large-Bore Natural Gas Engines Using Cylinder-by-Cylinder Electronic Fuel Control: A Case Study

James J. McCoy, Jr., PE - Hoerbiger Engineering Services/Ronald Wachowiak – El Paso Pipeline Group Harley (Mac) Smith – Tennessee Gas Pipeline

In 2008, Hoerbiger Engineering Services began testing a new fuel injection concept for older, lower horsepower pipeline engines that were not under stringent air quality rules that might require the operating company to consider replacing the older horsepower. The goal was to offer a fuel injection system that would enable these older, usually pump- or blower-scavenged units, to operate more fuel efficiently and to give the engine the capability to automatically balance itself, as well as the ability to “lay down” or “skip” certain cylinders when the load is light enough to permit this feature without harm to the engine. In short, this fuel system will give these older engines, some in the 40 to 65 year old range, the “smarts” of some of the latest reciprocating engines. The system was first tested in conjunction with Tennessee Gas Pipeline, an El Paso company at Middleton, Tennessee and then further tested at the Tennessee Gas compressor station at Batesville. The testing immediately showed the system capable of improving the combustion stability of the engine, while also saving fuel in the range of 3% at full load to over 15% at loads in the 70% range. This light load range is where many of these older engines run because of the changes in pipeline conditions since they were initially commissioned. The method used (explained more fully in the paper) was to attach an electronic valve to each mechanical valve and have the electronic controller control the governing and fuel management functions of the engine.

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