Research Project Information

Research Project Summary Information

Fuel Adaptive Control System for Landfill Gas Electric Generators(ST10922-1)

ENSYS Engineering


Fuel composition is an important parameter in the design of internal combustion (IC) engines. Typically, IC engines are fuel-specific, and do not operate optimally when fuel composition changes. The methane content of biogas generated in landfills and anaerobic digesters is inherently variable as it is affected by changing environmental and operating conditions. Hence, existing IC engines tuned for natural gas or low Btu biogas cannot operate optimally with respect to power generation and emissions. Biogas composition may vary on several time scales, e.g., hourly, daily, seasonally, and on a yearly basis. In addition, in many cases gas-fired engines use blends of biogas and natural gas in an attempt to produce constant power outputs, which adds another element of variability. A control system designed to adapt engine operating conditions on a cylinder-by-cylinder basis, using spark timing and fuel flow/throttle control based on real time pressure, temperature, and oxygen data, could provide a means for making more efficient use of biogas while operating at engine conditions that minimize emissions. ENSYS Engineering is an engine design consulting firm, which has outlined a strategy to accomplish this goal.

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Project Description

The scope of work includes: (1) Develop detailed specifications for a fuel-adaptive engine control system including data frequency needs, control response time, sensor precision and accuracy requirements, and all process control algorithms and control loop requirements; (2) Design, fabricate, and test a high resolution crank angle encoder; (3) Design, fabricate, and test a precision gas metering valve; (4) Simulate the performance of an engine control system with the advanced timing, pressure measurement, and fuel control using Matlab/Simulink to assess the feasibility of the control strategy.


A fuel adaptive controller system (FACS) can potentially improve the efficiency of power generation when using biogas while minimizing emissions of pollutants. A FACS can be used to prevent misfire and engine knock, providing a maintenance benefit to engine generator systems. The FACS will allow an operator to switch to natural gas if landfill or biogas supply is interrupted while optimally maintaining output from the engine. If this phase of development is successful, a commercial product is possible within three years with further development to develop data to demonstrate the value of the product to original equipment manufacturers or to make decisions about marketing the technology with the existing partners.

Project Results

Preliminary assessments are complete. Technique remains a promising solution to the problem of control IC engines, however, the project is on hold due to business reorganization.


ENSYS Engineering
Po Box 319
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

Principle Investigator

Greg Hampson

Universities Involved


Project Type:

Product Development

Technologies Types:

Energy Power Supply
Anaerobic Digester

NYSERDA Contact Information

Barry Liebowitz


R&D -Transport & Power Systems

Contract Details

Start Date: 1/11/2010
Project Status: Active
Contract Number: ST10922-1

Last Updated: 3/4/2014 1