This paper describes a new low-emissions engine concept called the hybrid rich-burn/lean-burn (HRBLB) engine. In this concept a portion of the cylinders of a multicylinder engine are fueled with a very rich natural gas-air mixture. The remaining cylinders are operated with a lean mixture of natural gas and air and supplemented with the rich combustion exhaust. The goal of this unique concept is the production of extremely low NOx (e.g., 5 ppm when corrected to 15 percent exhaust oxygen content). This is accomplished by operating outside the combustion limits where NOx is produced. In rich combustion an abundance of hydrogen and carbon monoxide is produced. Catalyst treatment of the rich exhaust can be employed to increase the hydrogen concentration and decrease the carbon monoxide concentration simultaneously. The hydrogen-enriched exhaust is used to supplement the lean mixture cylinders to extend the lean limit of combustion, and thus produces ultralow levels of NOx. Results to date have shown NOx levels as low as 8 ppm at 15 percent oxygen can be achieved with good combustion stability and thermal efficiency.

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