In this work, empirical investigations of the diesel-ethanol Premixed Pilot-Assisted Combustion (PPAC) are carried out on a high compression ratio (18.2:1) single-cylinder diesel engine. The tests focus on determining the minimum ethanol fraction for ultra-low NOx & soot emissions, effect of single-pilot vs. twin-pilot strategies on emissions and ignition controllability, reducing the EGR requirements, enabling clean combustion across the load range and achieving high efficiency full-load operation. The results show that both low NOx and almost zero soot emissions can be achieved but at the expense of higher unburned hydrocarbons. Compared to a single-pilot injection, a twin-pilot strategy reduces the soot emissions significantly and also lowers the NOx emissions, thereby reducing the requirements for EGR. The near-TDC pilot provides excellent control over the combustion phasing, further reducing the need of a higher EGR quantity for phasing control. The minimum ethanol-to-diesel quantity ratio can be quantified by the ‘Heat Release Profile Distribution’ parameter that identifies the transition from the diesel pilot dominated heterogeneous combustion to predominantly premixed, homogenous ethanol combustion and allows the two fuel quantities to be optimized for emissions and efficiency. Test results with NOx-soot emission compliance are presented for the full load range of the test engine using the single-pilot PPAC.