Lean SI Engines: The role of combustion variability in defining lean limits
Previous research has shown the potential benefits of running an engine with excess air. The challenges of running lean have also been identified, but not all of them have been fundamentally explained. Under high dilution levels, a lean limit is reached where combustion becomes unstable, significantly deteriorating drivability and engine efficiency, thus limiting the full potential of lean combustion. This paper expands the understanding of lean combustion by explaining the fundamentals behind this rapid rise in combustion variability and how this instability can be reduced. A flame entrainment combustion model was used to explain the fundamentals behind the observed combustion behavior in a comprehensive set of lean gasoline and hydrogen-enhanced cylinder pressure data in an SI engine. The data covered a wide range of operating conditions including different compression ratios, loads, types of dilution, fuels including levels of hydrogen enhancement, and levels of turbulence.