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Technical Paper

Thermal Efficiency Analyses of Diesel Low Temperature Combustion Cycles

Thermal efficiency comparisons are made between the low temperature combustion and the conventional diesel cycles on a common-rail diesel engine with a conventional diesel fuel. Empirical studies have been conducted under independently controlled exhaust gas recirculation, intake boost, and exhaust backpressure. Up to 8 fuel injection pulses per cylinder per cycle have been applied to modulate the homogeneity history of the early injection diesel low temperature combustion operations in order to improve the phasing of the combustion process. The impact of heat release phasing, duration, shaping, and splitting on the thermal efficiency has been analyzed with zero-dimensional engine cycle simulations. This paper intends to identify the major parameters that affect diesel low temperature combustion engine thermal efficiency.
Technical Paper

The Impact of Intake Dilution and Combustion Phasing on the Combustion Stability of a Diesel Engine

Conventionally, the diesel fuel ignites spontaneously following the injection event. The combustion and injection often overlap with a very short ignition delay. Diesel engines therefore offer superior combustion stability characterized by the low cycle-to-cycle variations. However, the enforcement of the stringent emission regulations necessitates the implementation of innovative diesel combustion concepts such as the low temperature combustion (LTC) to achieve ultra-low engine-out pollutants. In stark contrast to the conventional diesel combustion, the enabling of LTC requires enhanced air fuel mixing and hence a longer ignition delay is desired. Such a decoupling of the combustion events from the fuel injection can potentially cause ignition discrepancy and ultimately lead to combustion cyclic variations.
Technical Paper

The Effect of High-Power Capacitive Spark Discharge on the Ignition and Flame Propagation in a Lean and Diluted Cylinder Charge

Research studies have suggested that changes to the ignition system are required to generate a more robust flame kernel in order to secure the ignition process for the future advanced high efficiency spark-ignition (SI) engines. In a typical inductive ignition system, the spark discharge is initiated by a transient high-power electrical breakdown and sustained by a relatively low-power glow process. The electrical breakdown is characterized as a capacitive discharge process with a small quantity of energy coming mainly from the gap parasitic capacitor. Enhancement of the breakdown is a potential avenue effectively for extending the lean limit of SI engine. In this work, the effect of high-power capacitive spark discharge on the early flame kernel growth of premixed methane-air mixtures is investigated through electrical probing and optical diagnosis.
Technical Paper

Suitability Study of n-Butanol for Enabling PCCI and HCCI and RCCI Combustion on a High Compression-ratio Diesel Engine

This work investigates the suitability of n-butanol for enabling PCCI, HCCI, and RCCI combustion modes to achieve clean and efficient combustion on a high compression ratio (18.2:1) diesel engine. Systematic engine tests are conducted at low and medium engine loads (6∼8 bar IMEP) and at a medium engine speed of 1500 rpm. Test results indicate that n-butanol is more suitable than diesel to enable PCCI and HCCI combustion with the same engine hardware. However, the combustion phasing control for n-butanol is demanding due to the high combustion sensitivity to variations in engine operating conditions where engine safety concerns (e.g. excessive pressure rise rates) potentially arise. While EGR is the primary measure to control the combustion phasing of n-butanol HCCI, the timing control of n-butanol direct injection in PCCI provides an additional leverage to properly phase the n-butanol combustion.
Technical Paper

Study of Low Temperature Combustion with Neat n-Butanol on a Common-rail Diesel Engine

This study investigates neat n-butanol, as a cleaner power source, to directly replace conventional diesel fuels for enabling low temperature combustion on a modern common-rail diesel engine. Engine tests are performed at medium engine loads (6∼8 bar IMEP) with the single-shot injection strategy for both n-butanol and diesel fuels. As indicated by the experimental results, the combustion of neat n-butanol offers comparable engine efficiency to that of diesel while producing substantially lower NOx emissions even without the use of exhaust gas recirculation. The greater resistance to auto-ignition allows n-butanol to undergo a prolonged ignition delay for air-fuel mixing; the high volatility helps to enhance the cylinder charge homogeneity; the fuel-borne oxygen contributes to smoke reduction and, as a result, the smoke emissions of n-butanol combustion are generally at a near-zero level under the tested engine operating conditions.
Technical Paper

Study of Heat Release Shaping via Dual-Chamber Piston Bowl Design to Improve Ethanol-Diesel Combustion Performance

In this work, an innovative piston bowl design that physically divides the combustion chamber into a central zone and a peripheral zone is employed to assist the control of the ethanol-diesel combustion process via heat release shaping. The spatial combustion zone partition divides the premixed ethanol-air mixture into two portions, and the combustion event (timing and extent) of each portion can be controlled by the temporal diesel injection scheduling. As a result, the heat release profile of ethanol-diesel dual-fuel combustion is properly shaped to avoid excessive pressure rise rates and thus to improve the engine performance. The investigation is carried out through theoretical simulation study and empirical engine tests. Parametric simulation is first performed to evaluate the effects of heat release shaping on combustion noise and engine efficiency and to provide boundary conditions for subsequent engine tests.
Technical Paper

Simultaneous Reductions of Smoke and NOx from a DI Diesel Engine with EGR and Dimethyl Carbonate

Extensive experiments were conducted on a low emission DI diesel engine by using Dimethyl Carbonate (DMC) as an oxygenate fuel additive. The results indicated that smoke reduced almost linearly with fuel oxygen content. Accompanying noticeable reductions of HC and CO were attained, while a small increase in NOx was encountered. The effective reduction in smoke with DMC was maintained with intake charge CO2, which led to low NOx and smoke emissions by the combined use of oxygenated fuel and exhaust gas recirculation (EGR). Further experiments were conducted on an optically accessible combustion bomb and a thermal cracking set-up to study the mechanisms of DMC addition on smoke reduction.
Technical Paper

Renewable Ethanol Use for Enabling High Load Clean Combustion in a Diesel Engine

As a renewable energy source, the ethanol fuel was employed with a diesel fuel in this study to improve the cylinder charge homogeneity for high load operations, targeting on ultra-low nitrogen oxides (NOx) and smoke emissions. A light-duty diesel engine is configured to adapt intake port fuelling of the ethanol fuel while keeping all other original engine components intact. High load experiments are performed to investigate the combustion control and low emission enabling without sacrificing the high compression ratio (18.2:1). The intake boost, exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) and injection pressure are independently controlled, and thus their effects on combustion and emission characteristics of the high load operation are investigated individually. The low temperature combustion is accomplished at high engine load (16~17 bar IMEP) with regulation compatible NOx and soot emissions.
Technical Paper

Real-time Heat Release Analysis for Model-based Control of Diesel Combustion

A number of cylinder-pressure derived parameters including the crank angles of maximum pressure, maximum rate of pressure rise, and 50% heat released are considered as among the desired feedback for cycle-by-cycle adaptive control of diesel combustion. For real-time computation of these parameters, the heat release analyses based on the first law of thermodynamics are used. This paper intends to identify the operating regions where the simplified heat release approach provides sufficient accuracy for control applications and also highlights those regions where its use can lead to significant errors in the calculated parameters. The effects of the cylinder charge-to-wall heat transfer and the temperature dependence of the specific heat ratio on the model performance are reported. A new computationally efficient algorithm for estimating the crank angle of 50% heat released with adequate accuracy is proposed for computation in real-time.
Technical Paper

Prompt Heat Release Analysis to Improve Diesel Low Temperature Combustion

Diesel engines operating in the low-temperature combustion (LTC) mode generally tend to produce very low levels of NOx and soot. However, the implementation of LTC is challenged by the higher cycle-to-cycle variation with heavy EGR operation and the narrower operating corridors. The robustness and efficiency of LTC operation in diesel engines can be enhanced with improvements in the promptness and accuracy of combustion control. A set of field programmable gate array (FPGA) modules were coded and interlaced to suffice on-the-fly combustion event modulations. The cylinder pressure traces were analyzed to update the heat release rate concurrently as the combustion process proceeds prior to completing an engine cycle. Engine dynamometer tests demonstrated that such prompt heat release analysis was effective to optimize the LTC and the split combustion events for better fuel efficiency and exhaust emissions.
Technical Paper

Preliminary Energy Efficiency Analyses of Diesel EGR Fuel Reforming with Flow Reversal and Central Fuelling

The diesel fuel reforming process in an exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) loop of a diesel engine is capable of utilizing the engine exhaust energy to support the endothermic process of hydrogen gas generation. However, the EGR stream commonly needs to be heated to enable the operation of the reformer and thus to sustain higher yield of hydrogen. A central-fuelling and flow-reversal embedment that is energy-efficient to raise the central temperatures of the catalytic flow-bed is therefore devised and tested to drastically reduce the supplemental heating to the EGR reformer. One-dimensional modeling analyses are conducted to evaluate the fuel delivery strategies and temperature profiles of the reformer at various reforming gas flow rates and engine-out exhaust temperatures and compositions. This research attempts to quantify the energy saving by the catalytic flow-reversal and central-fuelling embedment in comparison to a unidirectional flow EGR reformer.
Technical Paper

Neat Biodiesel Fuel Engine Tests and Preliminary Modelling

Engine performance and emission comparisons were made between the use of 100% soy, Canola and yellow grease derived biodiesel fuels and an ultra-low sulphur diesel fuel in the oxygen deficient regions, i.e. full or high load engine operations. Exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) was extensively applied to initiate low temperature combustion. An intake throttling valve was implemented to increase the differential pressure between the intake and exhaust in order to increase and enhance the EGR. The intake temperature, pressure, and EGR levels were modulated to improve the engine fuel efficiency and exhaust emissions. Furthermore, a preliminary ignition delay correlation under the influence of EGR was developed. Preliminary low temperature combustion modelling of the biodiesel and diesel fuels was also conducted. The research intends to achieve simultaneous reductions of nitrogen oxides and soot emissions in modern production diesel engines when biodiesel is applied.
Technical Paper

Model Predictive Control of Exhaust Gas Recirculation Valve

Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) valves have been used in diesel engine operation to reduce NOx emissions. In EGR valve operation, the amount of exhaust gas re-circulating back into the intake manifold is controlled through the open position of the valve plate to keep the combustion temperature lower for NOx emission reduction. Different methods have been proposed to control the EGR valve. However, most of the approaches do not have the desired accuracy and the response time, which is critical for the after-treatment performance in low temperature diesel combustion. In this paper, the model of a motor driven EGR valve is first identified through experiments and then the Generalized Predictive Control (GPC) method which is an effective Model Predictive Control (MPC) method is applied to control the plate position of the valve.
Journal Article

Mode Switching Control for Diesel Low Temperature Combustion with Fast Feedback Algorithms

Low temperature combustion (LTC) in diesel engines can be enabled using a multitude of fuel injection strategies, coupled with the elevated use of exhaust gas recirculation and intake boost. The common modes of LTC include the single-injection LTC with heavy EGR and the homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI), implemented with multiple early-injections during the compression stroke. Previous research indicates that the single-injection LTC is more suitable at low engine loads while the HCCI combustion can be targeted towards mid-load operation. To extend the load range of the LTC cycles, there is an urgent need to enable switching on-the-fly between the two combustion modes. The mode-switching is complicated by the fact that the challenges of enabling and ensuring stable engine operation under these two LTC modes are notably different.
Technical Paper

Measurement of Temperature and Soot (KL) Distributions in Spray Flames of Diesel-Butanol Blends by Two-Color Method Using High-Speed RGB Video Camera

Taking advantages of high speed RGB video cameras, the two-color method can be implemented with a relatively simple setup to obtain the temporal development of the two dimensional temperature and soot (KL) distributions in a reacting diesel jet. However, several issues such as the selection of the two wavelengths, the role of bandpass filters, and the proper optical settings, etc. should be known to obtain a reliable measurement. This paper, at first, discusses about the uncertainties in the measurement of temperature and KL distributions in the diesel flame by the two-color method using the high speed RGB video camera. Since n-butanol, as an alternative renewable fuel, has the potential application in diesel engines, the characteristic of spray combustion of diesel-butanol blends under the diesel-like ambient conditions in a pre-burning constant-volume combustion chamber is studied.
Technical Paper

Low Temperature Combustion of Neat Biodiesel Fuel on a Common-rail Diesel Engine

The fatty acid alkyl esters derived from plants, rendered fats/oils and waste restaurant greases, commonly known as biodiesel, are renewable alternative fuels that may fulfill the demand gap caused by the depleting fossil diesel fuels. The combustion and emission characteristics of neat biodiesel fuels were investigated on a single cylinder of a 4-cylinder Ford common-rail direct injection diesel engine, which cylinder has been configured to have independent exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), boost and back pressures and exhaust gas sampling. The fatty acid methyl esters derived from Canola oil, soybean oil, tallow and yellow grease were first blended. Biodiesel engine tests were then conducted under the independent control of the fuel injection, EGR, boost and back pressure to achieve the low temperature combustion mode. Multi-pulse early-injections were employed to modulate the homogeneity history of the cylinder charge.
Technical Paper

Low Temperature Combustion Strategies for Compression Ignition Engines: Operability limits and Challenges

Low temperature combustion (LTC) strategies such as homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI), smokeless rich combustion, and reactivity controlled compression ignition (RCCI) provide for cleaner combustion with ultra-low NOx and soot emissions from compression-ignition engines. However, these strategies vary significantly in their implementation requirements, combustion characteristics, operability limits as well as sensitivity to boundary conditions such as exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) and intake temperature. In this work, a detailed analysis of the aforementioned LTC strategies has been carried out on a high-compression ratio, single-cylinder diesel engine. The effects of intake boost, EGR quantity/temperature, engine speed, injection scheduling and injection pressure on the operability limits have been empirically determined and correlated with the combustion stability and performance metrics.
Technical Paper

Ion Current Measurement of Diluted Combustion Using a Multi-Electrode Spark Plug

Close-loop feedback combustion control is essential for improving the internal combustion engines to meet the rigorous fuel efficiency demands and emission legislations. A vital part is the combustion sensing technology that diagnoses in-cylinder combustion information promptly, such as using cylinder pressure sensor and ion current measurement. The promptness and fidelity of the diagnostic are particularly important to the potential success of using intra-cycle control for abnormal cycles such as super knocking and misfiring. Many research studies have demonstrated the use of ion-current sensing as feedback signal to control the spark ignition gasoline engines, with the spark gap shared for both ignition and ion-current detection. During the spark glow phase, the sparking current may affect the combustion ion current signal. Moreover, the electrode gap size is optimized for sparking rather than measurement of ion current.
Technical Paper

Influence of Biodiesel Fuel on Diesel Engine Performance and Emissions in Low Temperature Combustion

The exhaust emission and performance characteristics of a 100% biodiesel fuel was evaluated on a single cylinder direct injection diesel engine that had been modified to allow multi-pulse diesel fuel injection at the intake port and independent control of intake heating, exhaust gas recirculation and throttling. Firstly, conventional single-shot direct injection tests were conducted and comparisons made between the use of an ultra-low sulphur diesel fuel and the biodiesel fuel. Secondly, tests for the premixed combustion of neat biodiesel were performed. Exhaust gas recirculation was applied extensively to initiate the low temperature combustion for the conventional in-cylinder single injection operation and to moderate the timing of the homogeneous charge compression ignition for the intake-port sequential injection. Because of the high viscosity and low volatility of the biodiesel, pilot-ignited homogeneous charge compression ignition was used.
Journal Article

Impact of Spark Plasma Length on Flame Kernel Development under Flow Condition

Advanced ignition systems with enhanced discharge current have been extensively investigated in research, since they are highly regarded as having the potential to overcome challenges that arise when spark-ignition engines are running under lean or EGR diluted conditions. Local flow field is also of particular importance to improve the ignitability of the air-fuel mixture in SI engines as the spark plasma channel can be stretched by the flow across the spark gap, leading to longer plasma length, thus more thermal spark energy distributed to the air-fuel mixture in the vicinity of the spark plug. Research results have shown that a constantly high discharge current is effective to maintain a stable spark plasma channel with less restrikes and longer plasma holding period.