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Method and apparatus for controlling fuel/air mixture in a lean burn engine

United States Patent

5,735,245
April 7, 1998
View the Complete Patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office
National Renewable Energy Laboratory - Visit the NREL Technology Transfer Website
The system for controlling the fuel/air mixture supplied to a lean burn engine when operating on natural gas, gasoline, hydrogen, alcohol, propane, butane, diesel or any other fuel as desired. As specific humidity of air supplied to the lean burn engine increases, the oxygen concentration of exhaust gas discharged by the engine for a given equivalence ratio will decrease. Closed loop fuel control systems typically attempt to maintain a constant exhaust gas oxygen concentration. Therefore, the decrease in the exhaust gas oxygen concentration resulting from increased specific humidity will often be improperly attributed to an excessive supply of fuel and the control system will incorrectly reduce the amount of fuel supplied to the engine. Also, the minimum fuel/air equivalence ratio for a lean burn engine to avoid misfiring will increase as specific humidity increases. A relative humidity sensor to allow the control system to provide a more enriched fuel/air mixture at high specific humidity levels. The level of specific humidity may be used to compensate an output signal from a universal exhaust gas oxygen sensor for changing oxygen concentrations at a desired equivalence ratio due to variation in specific humidity specific humidity. As a result, the control system will maintain the desired efficiency, low exhaust emissions and power level for the associated lean burn engine regardless of the specific humidity level of intake air supplied to the lean burn engine.
Kubesh; John Thomas (San Antonio, TX), Dodge; Lee Gene (San Antonio, TX), Podnar; Daniel James (San Antonio, TX)
Southwest Research Institute (San Antonio, TX)
08/ 735,105
October 22, 1996
CONTRACT The U.S. Government has a paid-up license in this invention and the right in limited circumstances to require the patent owner to license others on reasonable terms as provided for by the terms of Contract No. ZCR-5-13519-01 awarded by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.