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International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 32 (2007) 296 304

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Performance and combustion characteristics of a direct injection


SI hydrogen engine
Ali Mohammadi a, , Masahiro Shioji b , Yasuyuki Nakai b , Wataru Ishikura b , Eizo Tabo c
a Engine Technology, Powertrain, Toyota Motor Europe, Technical centre Hoge Wei 33 Zaventem 1930, Belgium
b Graduate School of Energy Science, Kyoto University, Yoshida-honmachi Sakyo-ku Kyoto 605-8501, Japan
c Environmental and Technical Affairs Department, Mitsubishi Motors Co., 5-33-8 Shiba Minatoku Tokyo 108-8401, Japan

Available online 17 August 2006

Abstract
Hydrogen with low spark-energy requirement, wide ammability range and high burning velocity is an important candidate for being used as
fuel in spark-ignition engines. It also offers CO2 and HC free combustion and lean operation resulting in lower NOx emissions. However, well
examined external mixing of hydrogen with intake air causes backre and knock especially at higher engine loads. In addition, low heating
value per unit of volume of hydrogen limits the maximum output power. In this study, attention was paid to full usage of hydrogen advantage
employing internal mixing method. Hydrogen was directly injected into cylinder of a single-cylinder test engine using a high-pressure gas
injector and effects of injection timing and spark timing on engine performance and NOx emission were investigated under wide engine loads.
The results indicate that direct injection of hydrogen prevents backre, and that high thermal efciency and output power can be achieved
by hydrogen injection during late compression stroke. Moreover, by further optimization of the injection timing for each engine load, NOx
emission can be reduced under the high engine output conditions.
2006 International Association for Hydrogen Energy. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Internal combustion engine; Direct-injection SI hydrogen engine; Combustion process; Performance; NOx emission

1. Introduction
Hydrogen has been regarded as a future secondary fuel for
power systems due to CO2 and HC free operation. Recent drastic increase in the price of petroleum, rapid increase in emission
of green house gases and very strict environmental legislations
are major motivating factors for usage of hydrogen in fuel cells
and internal combustion engines. Nevertheless, energy policy
experts generally believe that utilization of hydrogen as a fuel
for transportation sectors more likely can be expected in internal combustion engines than in fuel cells at least for some
decades [1,2]. Although, there are still several barriers for utilization of hydrogen as fuel in transportation sectors, results of
recent works on hydrogen production, distribution and storage
are promising [3].
Hydrogen fuel exhibits desirable characteristics for the combustion in SI engines. Wide range of ammability limits enables
Corresponding author.

E-mail address: ali.mohammadi@toyota-europe.com (A. Mohammadi).

a smooth engine operation at a very lean mixture with low


NOx level, and the throttle control is unnecessary even at the
idling condition in hydrogen engines. Also, the high burning
velocity of hydrogen may contribute to the relatively high thermal efciency with a shorter combustion period at the ignition
timing close to top dead center. Additionally, low spark energy
requirement would lower the cyclic combustion uctuation.
These preferable natures have encouraged a number of studies
to establish the high-performance hydrogen engine for various
design and operating conditions [411]. Nevertheless, the extremely rapid combustion of hydrogen causes abnormal burning such as knock, pre-ignition and backre at higher loads that
prevents a reliable operation and restricts the engine power.
Furthermore, a signicantly higher burning velocity leads to
lower the thermal efciency compared with other gaseous fuels
because of an increase in heat loss due to the knock-like explosive combustion [1218]. To overcome such problems with
hydrogen engines, recently, internal mixing of hydrogen has
been examined by some researchers [19,20]. Generally, internal mixing of hydrogen is achieved by high-pressure injection
systems. This technique is very effective to prevent the backre

0360-3199/$ - see front matter 2006 International Association for Hydrogen Energy. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.ijhydene.2006.06.005

A. Mohammadi et al. / International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 32 (2007) 296 304

297

Nomenclature
(dp/d)max
(dq/d)max
NOx
p
pe
pmax

maximum pressure increase rate, MPa/deg


maximum heat release rate, kJ/kg deg
concentration of NOx in engine exhaust,
ppm
in-cylinder pressure, MPa
brake mean effective pressure, MPa
maximum in-cylinder pressure, MPa

pi

e

i
j

standard deviation of indicated mean effective


pressure normalized by its mean value
equivalence ratio
brake thermal efciency
crank angle, ATDC
spark timing, BTDC
injection timing, BTDC

and knock especially under the high engine loads. However,


high heat loss due to the high burning velocity of hydrogen is
still a major barrier to achieve a thermal efciency as high as
what seen in the recent advanced direct-injection diesel engines.
Present study aims at exhibiting the feasibility of hydrogen in SI engine by full usage of hydrogen advantages. This
was realized by internal mixing of hydrogen with intake air
using in-cylinder high-pressure injection method in a single
cylinder SI engine. The results of experiment indicate that by
proper selection of injection timing and spark timing great promotion of engine performance can be achieved under various
engine loads.
2. Experimental
The test engine used was a single-cylinder four-cycle natural
aspirated SI engine with a bore diameter of 102 mm and a stroke
of 105 mm, which was converted from a direct-injection diesel
engine (Yanmar NFD-170). Fig. 1 shows the conguration
of the combustion chamber, together with injector and spark
plug arrangements. In this study, at-head piston was used to
form the disc-shaped combustion space, and compression ratio
was xed at 11.5:1. Hydrogen gas from a high-pressure vessel
was supplied to an electro-magnetically actuated gas injector
(Westport Innovation Inc.), and hydrogen ow rate was preciously measured by a mass ow controller (Oval, F-123S).
The gas injector has seven hole nozzles with a hole diameter of
0.52 mm. Injection timing and duration can be adjusted by an
electronic control system (Morigiken). Injection pressure was
regulated at 8 MPa, which might ensure the sufcient penetration of fuel jet and afford a fast fuelair mixing even at injection
timing near top dead center. A passenger-car spark-plug (NGK
C7HA) was installed on the cylinder head as ignition source
and ignition timing was preciously detected by a current monitor (Pearson 110). In present study, the distance between the
spark plug and injection nozzle tip is approximately 30 mm.
This distance is the minimum distance that can be achieved due
to the cylinder head geometry. Engine specications are listed
in Table 1. Fig. 2 shows the schematic of experimental setup
for controlling engine speed, ignition timing and fuelair ratio,
and for measuring engine performance, combustion process
and exhaust emissions. In-cylinder pressures were monitored
using a piezoelectric transducer (Kistler 6052A). In-cylinder
pressure data were used to calculate the heat release rate based
on the rst law of thermodynamics considering temperature
dependency of specic heat of mixture and the heat loss

Fig. 1. Combustion chamber geometry and gas jet arrangement.

Table 1
Engine specications
Engine type
Bore Stroke
Displacement
Compression ratio
Combustion chamber
Swirl ratio
Intake valve open
close
Exh valve open
close
Injector nozzle

spark-ignition 4-stroke cycle


102 mm 105 mm
857 cc
11.5:1
Disc shape
2.6
360 ATDC
580 ATDC
130 ATDC
380 ATDC
0.52 mm 7

298

A. Mohammadi et al. / International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 32 (2007) 296 304

Surge tank

P
flow meter

Pressure
regulator

Laminar
flow meter

Intake air

H2
Injector
Exhaust gas

Spark plug

Nox meter

Amp.
Pressure
pickup

Injection
controller

Data
recorder

Coil

Ignition
controler

Dynamo
meter
Crankangle
pulser
Fig. 2. Experimental setup.

to the combustion chamber wall. NOx (NO + NO2 ) emission was measured using a chemiluminescence NOx analyzer
(Yanaco KA-200). All experiments were conducted at wideopen throttle condition, at a xed cooling-water temperature of
80 C, and at a xed engine speed of 1200 rpm. In present study,
beside knocking and unstable combustion, two other limiting
criteria were considered for the engine operation. Engine operation was carried out for exhaust gas temperature and maximum
in-cylinder pressure lower than 600 C and 7 MPa, respectively.
In-cylinder pressure higher than 7 MPa would damage the gas
injector, when the injection pressure is set at 8 MPa.
3. Results and discussions
In the experiment, effects of fuelair mixing on engine performance and emission were investigated varying the injection
timing in a very wide range. At rst, hydrogen was injected
at early stage of the intake stroke to achieve sufcient mixture preparation period. Then, injection timing was delayed
toward the compression stroke and improvement in engine
performance was demonstrated. In the next step, injection was
further delayed and optimized injection timing for each engine
load was claried.

in one stroke is approximately 11.2 mg (0.125NL) with approximately 60 CA injection duration. As shown, maximum brake
thermal efciency e is achieved at  = 0.5 and is about 35%.
Spark timing i for maximum brake mean effective pressure
pe (MBT) delays with increasing the equivalence ratio . For
 = 0.6 and 0.7, advancing i toward MBT was difcult due
to strong knocking. Therefore, e was diminished when compared with that for  = 0.5. Brake mean effective pressure pe
increases with increasing the equivalence ratio. However, this
tendency decays under the high equivalence ratio conditions
and therefore maximum mean effective pressure pe achieved in
this experiment was about 0.65 MPa, which is lower than that
achieved from the original diesel engine. As shown later in this
paper, in this injection timing, increasing amount of hydrogen
injected lowers the amount of the intake air and therefore volumetric efciency decreases. In particular, for hydrogen with
low heating value per unit volume, maximum power is greatly
limited by reduction in the intake air amount. Regarding combustion characteristics, maximum in-cylinder pressure pmax decreases when spark i is retarded, and is lower than 6 MPa in
all conditions. Maximum pressure increase rate (dp/d)max increases by increasing the equivalence ratio , resulting in an
increase in NOx emissions, typically at  > 0.5. For  = 0.7,
maximum NOx emission was about 8000 ppm.

3.1. Hydrogen injection during intake stroke


3.2. Hydrogen injection during compression stroke
In the rst stage of the experiment, hydrogen was injected
into the cylinder at j = 300 BTDC, when intake valve was
open during the entire injection period. Fig. 3 shows the effects
of spark timing i on engine performance, combustion characteristics and emission when equivalence ratio  was varied in
the range of 0.30.7. At  = 0.5, amount of hydrogen injected

In the second stage of the experiment, hydrogen was injected


into the cylinder at the early stage of compression stroke of
j = 130 BTDC, just after intake valve close at 140 BTDC.
Fig. 4 indicates the engine performance, combustion characteristics and NOx emission, when  was varied. At =0.5, amount

A. Mohammadi et al. / International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 32 (2007) 296 304

ppm

=0.3
0.4

4000

=0.23

6000

0.3

4000

0.5

0.4
0.6

0.4

MPa/deg

2000

2000
0.6

0.4

6
4

0.8

0.7

= 0.5

0.6

1.0

0.7

0.8

0.8

0.6

0.4

pe

0.6

0.4

0.2

0.40

0.40

0.2

0.35

0.30

0.35

pe

=0.6

MPa

1.0

pmax

MPa

2
pmax

0.0

MPa

0.0

0.2
(dp/d)max

MPa

0.2

MPa/deg

6000

NOx

j=130BTDC

8000

(dp/d)max

8000

NOx

ppm

j = 300 BTDC

299

0.25

0.30
0.25

0.20
-40

-20
i

20

0.20
60

BTDC

Fig. 3. Effects of ignition timing i on brake thermal efciency e , brake


mean effective pressure pe , maximum pressure increase rate (dp/d)max ,
maximum in-cylinder pressure pmax and NOx emission for injection timing
of j = 300 BTDC under various equivalence ratios.

of hydrogen injected in one stroke is approximately 13.5 mg


(0.152NL) with injection duration of 69 CA. Retarding injection from the intake stroke to the early compression stroke results in an increase in pe and e for each equivalence ratio.
Brake mean effective pressure pe increases almost linearly with
 and the nal pe achieved was about 0.97 MPa, which is higher
than that can be achieved from the original diesel engine. As
shown in Fig. 5, for injection timing of j = 130 BTDC, volumetric efciency is slightly affected by increase in the amount
of injected fuel. Whereas, for j =300 BTDC drastic reduction
in volumetric efciency can be seen by increase in equivalence
ratio . Here volumetric efciency is measured intake air ow
rate divided by ow rate displaced by the piston (calculated)
under standard ambient condition.
Regarding combustion characteristics shown in Fig. 4, retarding injection timing causes an increase in pmax and (dp/d)max
even under the same equivalence ratio. This is due to increase
in amount of fuel injected for a given . For each equivalence
ratio, there is no remarkable changes in NOx emissions when

40

20
i

-20

BTDC

Fig. 4. Effects of ignition timing i on brake thermal efciency e , brake


mean effective pressure pe , maximum pressure increase rate (dp/d)max ,
maximum in-cylinder pressure pmax and NOx emission for injection timing
of j = 130 BTDC under various equivalence ratios.

1.0
j=130BTDC
Volumetric efficiency

-60

0.9

0.8

j=300BTDC
WOT

0.7

i=MBT

0.6
0.3

0.4

0.5

0.6

0.7

Fig. 5. Effects of injection timing j on volumetric efciency for different


equivalence ratios.

=0.5

6000

1000

0.4

MPa

0.6

pmax

2000

MPa/deg

NOx

4000

0.2
8

0.0

4
3

j=130BTDC
100
90

0.6

(dp/d)max

MPa

2000

0.4
0.2

4
0.0
1.0
0.8

0.375

MPa

pmax

0.40

0.2

0.35

j=80BTDC
70

0.325
20

10
i

0.30

-10

BTDC

Fig. 7. Effects of ignition timing i on brake thermal efciency e , maximum


pressure increase rate (dp/d)max , maximum in-cylinder pressure pmax and
NOx emissions for  = 0.5 under various injection timings j .

0.25
0.20
60

0.350

pe

0.6
0.4

MPa/deg

ppm

3000

NOx

j=100BTDC

8000

ppm

A. Mohammadi et al. / International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 32 (2007) 296 304

(dp/d)max

300

40

20
i

-20

BTDC

Fig. 6. Effects of ignition timing i on brake thermal efciency e , brake


mean effective pressure pe , maximum pressure increase rate (dp/d)max ,
maximum in-cylinder pressure pmax and NOx emission for injection timing
of j = 100 BTDC under various equivalence ratios.

compared to that for j = 300 BTDC. This means that degree of mixing is not much affected with retard in the injection
timing.
Finally, injection timing was further retarded to j =
100 BTDC and the results are shown in Fig. 6. Compared
with results of j = 130 BTDC, pe and e have further increased. In this case, spark timing of MBT is not so retarded.
Maximum in-cylinder pressure pmax changes little with that
of j = 130 BTDC at the same i , whereas (dp/d)max is remarkably increased. Retarding the injection timing lowers NOx
concentration typically for the higher equivalence ratios. This
indicates that NOx formation depends on the heterogeneity in
the fuelair mixture. Study carried out by one of the authors
shows that for  < 0.7, combustion of heterogeneous mixture
gives higher NOx emission, however, for  > 0.7 NOx emission of homogeneous mixtures combustion is much higher
than that for heterogeneous mixture [21].

3.3. Optimization of injection timing for  = 0.5


As shown above, retarding injection timing offers improvement in the engine performance and emissions. In the next
step, the authors tried to optimize the injection timing for
 = 0.5, which gave the maximum thermal efciency. Fig. 7
indicates the engine performance, combustion characteristics
and NOx emission when injection timing was varied in the
range of j =130.70 BTDC. Retarding the injection timing till
j = 80 BTDC increases the thermal efciency e and engine
output pe . However, further injection retard to j = 70 BTDC
shows negative effects. For this equivalence ratio, spark timing
of i =5.8 BTDC gives the maximum brake thermal efciency
for all injection timings. It is clearly shown that at every injection timing j , (dp/d)max and pmax are decreased with the
retarded ignition. Also, at a xed ignition timing i , retarding
the injection timing j increases (dp/d)max and slightly pmax .
However, these values are in the acceptable ranges considering
the safety of gas injector and combustion noise. NOx emission
linearly decreases with i , but its change with j is not simple
and similar to that of e . Such results of engine performance are
reected on the combustion processes. Fig. 8 demonstrates the
courses of in-cylinder pressure p and heat-release rate dq/d
measured under the conditions in Fig. 7. Every curve of dq/d
rises just after ignition even when ignition is made after TDC.

A. Mohammadi et al. / International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 32 (2007) 296 304

MPa

=0.5

j=300BTDC

6
4

kJ/kg.deg
dq/d

i=12BTDC (MBT)

16

6
-4

i=11BTDC (MBT)

0
150

2
-3

0
150

i=12BTDC (MBT)

i=11BTDC (MBT)

16
7

100
50

-4

50

19
0
-60 -45 -30 -15

100
-3

14

8
MPa

j=130BTDC

19
14

301

15

30

45

60

j=100BTDC

18

6
-4

15

30

45

60

j=80BTDC

15

i=8BTDC (MBT)

-7

dq/d

kJ/kg.deg

-60 -45 -30 -15

i=11BTDC (MBT)

0
150

150

0
i=11BTDC (MBT)

18

100

-4

100

50

i=8BTDC (MBT)

15

-7

50

0
-60 -45 -30 -15

15

30

45

ATDC

60

-60 -45 -30 -15

15

30

45

60

ATDC

Fig. 8. Changes of in-cylinder pressure p, heat release rate dq/d with ignition timing i for different injection timing j at  = 0.5.

For each j , the rapid combustion is observed around MBT


ignition timing, shown by the thick lines.
3.4. Optimization of injection timing under various
equivalence ratios
Injection timing reects the mixture formation in the vicinity of spark plug, then ignition should be adjusted at the proper
time that ensures the strong ame kernel and the stable combustion followed. Such condition leads to the optimal engine performance. As was shown above, in the experimental condition
of the present study, injection timing for best engine operation
was j = 80 BTDC for  = 0.5. Next, the injection timing was
optimized under MBT spark timing when equivalence ratio was
varied in the range of  = 0.3.0.6 and the results are shown in
Fig. 9. For  = 0.3, the injection timing by which maximum
e is achieved is about 100 BTDC and further injection retard
seems not effective due to an unstable engine operation. Increasing  to 0.4 exhibits a great increase in thermal efciency
e under retard injection timing of j = 90 BTDC. For  = 0.5
in which maximum thermal efciency e was achieved, the best
injection timing is j = 80 BTDC. Although further increase
in amount of fuel injection up to  = 0.6 offers a higher engine
output, the thermal efciency e is lower than that for  = 0.5.
Although ignition timing is restricted with j , the stable operation can be obtained in wide range of  as long as the ignition

timing is adequately selected. In Fig. 10, measured values of


brake thermal efciency e , MBT ignition timing i , relative
intensity of uctuation of indicated mean effective pressure
pi and NOx concentration in the exhaust are plotted against
 for various injection timing j . Injection at j = 130 and
100 BTDC particularly exhibits a wider operational range of
equivalence ratio , whereas the injection retarding to 80 and
70 BTDC restricts the stable combustion to =0.4.0.6, which
may prevents the improvement of engine performance. Therefore, further investigation should be required for altering the jet
conguration, combustion chamber geometry and gas ow that
affect the mixture formation in the combustion space and the
combustion uctuation. As NOx results indicates, at  > 0.6,
NOx emissions can be reduced by retarding the injection timing due to increase in heterogeneity of fuelair mixture in this
range of equivalence ratios [21].
Combustion processes at those MBT conditions are shown in
Fig. 11. At every injection timing j , combustion proceeds more
rapidly as  increases, thus MBT ignition timing is retarded.
In particular, in the condition of  greater than 0.7, ignition
should be made after TDC, through which maximum pressure
pmax is decreased and observed at the later crank angle.
Fig. 12 shows the engine performance, combustion characteristics and NOx emissions against brake mean effective
pressure pe when injection timing was varied in the range of
j = 70.300 BTDC. For injection timing of j = 300 BTDC,

A. Mohammadi et al. / International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 32 (2007) 296 304

6000

j=300BTDC
130
100
80
70

2000

NOx

4000

8000
MBT

6000
4000
2000

BTDC

20

15

20

0
30

10

pi

10

0.6

40
30
20
10
0
-10

0.0

0.375

(dp/d)max

0.2
0.400

0.375
e

0.350
0.325

BTDC

0.6

0.8

MPa/deg

=0.5

0.4

ppm

MBT

NOx

8000

=0.3
0.4

ppm

302

0.350
0.325

0.300

130

120

110

100

BTDC

90

80

70

0.300
0.2

0.3

0.4

0.5

0.6

0.7

0.8

Fig. 9. Effects of injection timing j on brake thermal efciency e , maximum


pressure rise rate (dp/d)max , MBT injection timing i and NOx emission
for different equivalence ratios.

Fig. 10. Brake thermal efciency e , MBT ignition timing, pi and NOx
emissions against equivalence ratio  for different injection timings j .

when fuel injection is carried out during the intake stroke,


maximum engine output is limited to pe = 0.65. As described
already, this is due to a decrease in volumetric efciency,
which nally results in knock. Injection timing of 100 and
130 BTDC extends the engine operation toward lower and
higher pe , where 130 BTDC gives slightly higher thermal
efciency at pe = 0.7.0.8. Further delay in injection timing to
80 BTDC improves the thermal efciency e at pe = 0.55.0.8.
However, in this condition, engine operation under low engine load was difcult due to an increase in the combustion
uctuation. In this study, maximum thermal efciency e was
achieved for 80 BTDC that is 38.9%. As can be seen in the
NOx results, NOx emissions for 80 BTDC at pe = 0.8 MPa
is 60% lower than that for 130 BTDC. This would be due to
increase in heterogeneity of fuelair mixture caused by retard
in the injection timing [21]. Above results reveal that optimization of injection timing is an effective method to obtain
high thermal efciency and low NOx emissions for a given
engine load.

The results reveal that:

4. Summary and conclusions


A direct-injection spark ignition hydrogen engine was developed and attention was paid on the effects of injection
timing on the engine performance, combustion characteristics and NOx emission under a wide range of engine loads.

1. In-cylinder injection of hydrogen during the intake stroke


prevents backre. However, thermal efciency and output
power are limited by knock due to reduction in volumetric
efciency.
2. Hydrogen injection at compression stroke prevents knock
and gives an increase in thermal efciency and maximum
output power.
3. Hydrogen injection at later stage of compression stroke can
achieve the thermal efciency higher than 38.9% and the
brake mean effective pressure 0.95 MPa. Under high engine
output conditions, late injection of hydrogen offers a great
reduction in NOx emission due to the lean operation.
As indicated in the present study, employing direct-injection
technology in a hydrogen engine is very effective to control
the abnormal combustion of hydrogen and achieve high thermal efciency and output power. However, the authors believe
that further investigation is required for better performance. Although late injection results in lower NOx emissions, utilization
of other techniques such as exhaust gas recirculation and aftertreatment methods are required to bring the NOx emission to
acceptable level. In addition, optimization of combustion chamber geometry; injection parameters such as injection pressure
and nozzle hole numbers/arrangement; swirl intensity, etc. are

A. Mohammadi et al. / International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 32 (2007) 296 304

303

Fig. 11. Changes of in-cylinder pressure p, heat release rate dq/d with equivalence ratio  for different injection timing j at MBT ignition timing.

6000

MBT

ppm

8000

2000
0

8
MPa

NOx

4000

2
0

j=300BTDC
300

130
100
80
70

200

kJ/kgdeg

pmax

0.375

(dq/d)max

100

0.350

0.325

0.300
0.2

0.4

0.6
pe

0.8

1.0

MPa

Fig. 12. Changes of brake thermal efciency e , maximum pressure increase


rate (dp/d)max , NOx emission against brake mean effective pressure pe for
different injection timings j at MBT ignition timing.

indeed important to achieve an engine performance level competitive to that in the modern direct-injection diesel engines.
Acknowledgment
This study was partially supported by a Grant-in-aid for
the 21st Century COE Program Establishment of COE on
Sustainable-Energy System from Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and by Industrial
Technology Research Grant Program in 2003 from New Energy
and Industrial Development Organization NEDO of Japan.
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