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Low Temperature Combustion

A Thermodynamic Pathway to High Efficiency Engines

Low Temperature Combustion minimizes the sum of the irreversibilities for work generation from in- cylinder processes. Since LTC depends on auto- ignition, the methods used to achieve it are dependent on the auto-ignition characteristics of the fuel being used. Of IC Engines in use today the diesel (compression ignition) engine, is the most efficient at converting fuel energy to shaft work. LTC concept is build on this inherent advantage of diesel combustion. Various methods to implement LTC combustion are HCCI, PCCI, RCCI explained further.

Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition Engine (HCCI)

CI engines have high fuel efficiency but at a cost of high NOx and particulate matter emissions. SI engines have comparatively lower fuel efficiency but correspondingly have lower emissions. One such technology based on the modern SI and CI engines that incorporates merits of both these types of engines without compromising on their demerits is the Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI) Engine technology. In an IC engine, HCCI combustion can the achieved by premixing the air-fuel mixture (either in the manifold or by early Direct Injection (DI) like in a SI engine) and compressing it until the temperature is high enough for autoignition to occur (like in a CI engine). The HCCI engine test results have indicated that the fuel consumption of HCCI engine is higher at low loads than CI engines but lower than SI engine. However, HCCI engines have a limited operating range, where, at high loads and speeds, the rates of heat release and pressure rise increase leading to knocking and at low loads, misfire may occur.

Emissions in HCCI engines:

Higher production of CO and HC emission in HCCI engine occurs because of the combustion of lean air-fuel mixture at low combustion temperatures. However, the combustion of lean air/fuel mixture at low temperatures in HCCI engine hinders the formation of NOx as opposed to CI engines where at high combustion temperatures, significant formation of NOx emissions are observed.

Premixed charge compression ignition (PCCI)

In the PCCI combustion strategy, fuel can be introduced into the combustion chamber through port fuel injection, early direct injection, or late direct injection. Port fuel injection and early direct injection often suffer from incomplete fuel vaporization which causes high levels of hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide (CO) emissions as well as fuel/oil dilution. In PCCI combustion mode, since the fuel is injected well before top dead center (TDC), obtaining good mixing in the available time and preventing wall-wetting due to spray over- penetration can be challenging. PCCI need more EGR than HCCI engines, for both low emissions and suppressing premature ignition and excessive high combustion rates. Experimentally it had been shown that late direct injection avoids fuel-wall impingement and provides good control over combustion phasing. PCCI combustion mode for diesel engines uses early in-cylinder fuel injection to avoid soot emissions

Reactivity Controlled Compression Ignition (RCCI)

RCCI uses in-cylinder fuel blending with at least two fuels of different reactivity and multiple injections to control in-cylinder fuel reactivity to optimize combustion phasing, duration and magnitude. The process involves introduction of a low reactivity fuel into the cylinder to create a well-mixed charge of low reactivity fuel, air and recirculated exhaust gases. The high reactivity fuel is injected before ignition of the premixed fuel occurs using single or multiple injections directly into the combustion chamber. Lowered NOx and PM emissions (Because of Controlled Combustion) Reduced heat transfer losses Increased fuel efficiency Complies with EPA 2010 emissions guidelines without costly exhaust after treatment


Reference- Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Reactivity Controlled Compression Ignition (RCCI)