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HARC Research on Engine Emissions at ASCE/EWRI Congress May 24

Posting Date: 
Thursday, May 4, 2017

Natural gas fuel is increasingly used to power oil and gas operations, including drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Natural gas offers advantages in reducing fuel costs and engine emissions. One way in which this can be done is with Dual Fuel Diesel Engines. Dual fuel engines can utilize natural gas (mostly methane) and diesel fuel together to reduce the amount of diesel fuel needed. Dual fuel engines offer certain emissions advantages, such as lower amounts of nitrogen oxides, or NOX, a product of combustion that contributes to air pollution. However, there has been little available data describing the measured fuel economy and emissions characteristics of these engines.

HARC scientists measure emissions of dual fuel diesel engines in drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

To answer these questions, HARC scientists developed a specialized instrumentation package that can be used at sites where there are active drilling or hydraulic fracturing operations. In order to do this, the sophisticated electronic equipment used to analyze engine emissions had to be configured so as to be “intrinsically safe” in an environment where hydrocarbon gases may be present. Analyzers that measure gaseous emissions and soot are contained within a continuously purged, sealed enclosure to prevent any gas from coming into contact with a potential ignition source. The resulting system, dubbed the “iBox”, has been successfully deployed in the field to measure emissions of dual fuel diesel engines.

Data on emissions and fuel economy collected from these studies of high-horsepower dual fuel diesel engines will be presented at the American Society of Civil Engineers Environmental and Water Resources Institute Congress, in Sacramento, California, later this month. HARC Research Scientist Carolyn LaFleur, P.E., a long-time member of ASCE and Chair of the EWRI Environmental Council, will present findings of these studies for the conference audience. The presentation, entitled “Emissions of High Horsepower Natural Gas Dual Fuel Engines in Hydraulic Fracturing Service” will highlight study methods and findings.

The Environmentally Friendly Drilling Systems Program at HARC continues to study engine emissions, as well as other aspects of natural gas power for oilfield operations. EFD works with industry, academia, and other stakeholders in providing unbiased science to address environmental and societal aspects of oil and gas activities, studying cost-effective technologies and practices to improve environmental performance.