The Shift in Relevance of Fuel RON and MON to Knock Onset in Modern SI Engines Over the Last 70 Years
Since the advent of the spark ignition engine, the maximum engine efficiency has been knock limited. Knock is a phenomena caused by the rapid autoignition of fuel/air mixture (endgas) ahead of the flame front. The propensity of a fuel to autoignite corresponds to its autoignition chemistry at the local endgas temperature and pressure. Since a fuel blend consists of many components, its autoignition chemistry is very complex. The octane index (OI) simplifies this complex autoignition chemistry by comparing a fuel to a Primary Reference Fuel (PRF), a binary blend of iso-octane and n-heptane. As more iso-octane is added into the blend, the PRF is less likely to autoignite. The OI of a fuel is defined as the volumetric percentage of iso-octane in the PRF blend that exhibits similar knocking characteristics at the same engine conditions.