In an internal combustion engine, lean burn refers to the combustion of fuel with an excess of air. The air-to-fuel ratio in lean-burn engines can be as low as 65:1. (by mass). In comparison, the air/fuel ratio required to stoichiometrically combust gasoline is 14.64:1. In a lean-burn engine, the surplus air produces significantly fewer hydrocarbons. High air-fuel ratios can also be employed to reduce throttling losses, which are produced by various engine power management techniques.
In this article, you’ll learn the definition, applications, diagram, working, advantages, and disadvantages of lean-burn engines.
What is a lean-burn engine?
Although lean-burn or diesel engines consume less fuel and emit less CO2 than existing engines with a stoichiometric air/fuel ratio, the presence of O2 in their emissions inhibits the use of current “three-way” type catalysts. As a result, catalysts capable of converting NOx to N2 in engine emissions containing oxygen are required. The term “lean burn” is relatively self-explanatory. It is a little amount of fuel delivered to and consumed in the combustion chamber of an engine. The normal air-to-fuel ratio is around 15:1. (15 parts air to 1 part fuel). True lean-burn ratios can reach 23:1.
Lean-burn engines (both gasoline and diesel) have better fuel economy and lower emissions than engines that have been traditionally tuned. By their very nature, they utilize less fuel and produce less unburned hydrocarbons and greenhouse gases than a comparable “regular” combustion engine while delivering the same amount of power. Greater combustion chamber compression ratios (higher cylinder pressure), substantial air intake swirl, and precision lean-metered direct fuel injection are used to attain lean-burn conditions.
The applications of lean-burn systems are common in all sorts of vehicles commercial cars such as Honda, Toyota, and Mitsubishi, heavy-duty gas engines, and also diesel engines.
Diagram of a lean-burn engine:
The working of a lean-burn engine is less complex and can be easily understood. in its working, Throttling losses can be reduced by using a lean-burn mode. In normal steady-speed operation, an engine in a conventional vehicle is sized to provide the power required for acceleration, but it must function well below that point. Normally, power is reduced by partially closing the throttle. The increased work required to pump air via the throttle, on the other hand, diminishes efficiency. Lower power can be achieved with the throttle closer to fully open if the fuel/air ratio is reduced, and efficiency during normal driving (below the engine’s maximum torque capabilities) can be improved.
Lean-burn engines can use higher compression ratios, resulting in superior performance, fuel efficiency, and reduced hydrocarbon emissions than traditional gasoline engines. Direct injection engines are the only way to achieve ultra-lean mixes with high air-fuel ratios.
The main disadvantage of clean burning is that reducing NOx emissions necessitates the use of a complicated catalytic converter system. Current 3-way catalytic converters require a pollutant balance at the exhaust port to carry out oxidation and reduction reactions, therefore most modern engines cruise and coast down at or near the stoichiometric point.
Watch the video below to learn more about the working of a lean-burn engine:
Advantages and disadvantages of lean-burn engine
Below are the benefits of a lean-burn engine in its various applications:
- Increased fuel efficiency
- Reduce the number of unburned hydrocarbons and greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.
- A lean-burn mode is a technique for lowering throttling losses.
Despite the good advantages of a lean-burn engine, some limitations still occur. Below are the disadvantages of lean-burn engines in their various applications:
- To reduce NOx emissions, lean burning requires a complicated catalytic converter system.
- Relatively high costs
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Lean-burn engines (both gasoline and diesel) have better fuel economy and lower emissions than engines that have been traditionally tuned. By their very nature, they utilize less fuel and produce less unburned hydrocarbons and greenhouse gases than a comparable “regular” combustion engine while delivering the same amount of power. That is all for this article, where the definition, applications, diagram, working, advantages, and disadvantages of a lean-burn engine are been discussed.
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