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Compression Ignition Engines: State-of-the-Art and

Current Technologies. Future Trends and

Francisco Payri, Jose-Mara Desantes, and Jesus
CMT-Motores Termicos, Universitat Polit`ecnica de Val`encia, Valencia, Spain

Since the invention by Rudolf Diesel in 1892, the
compression-ignition (CI) engine has been the workhorse
of industry, and has been dominant in applications such
as trucking, construction, farming, and mining. They have
been also extensively used for stationary power generation
and marine propulsion and in large passenger vehicles in
many regions of the world. The main reason for this result is
that the type combustion in diesel engines is very effective
in large-size engines, being the main advantage the high
global efficiency that can reach values in excess of 50%,
considering that the best conventional gasoline engines are
approximately from 30% to 33% efficient, and then only at
wide throttle openings.
On the other hand, small displacement diesel engines are
difficult to design and to operate, and consequently the application to light-duty vehicles such as vans and cars has been
very scarce until some decades ago. The main drawbacks of
the diesel engine in automotive applications have been the
small power/weight ratio, high levels of noise and harshness,
and high nitrous oxides (NOx ) and soot emissions compared
with other plants, especially the spark-ignition (SI) engine
fuelled with gasoline. However, during the past decades, and
thanks to significant improvements in injection technology,
turbocharging and exhaust aftertreatment devices, diesel
engines have been able to challenge and partially beat the
SI engine in many automotive applications, changing some
Handbook of Clean Energy Systems, Online 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
This article is 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
This article was published in the Handbook of Clean Energy Systems
in 2015 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
DOI: 10.1002/9781118991978.hces079

historical market trends, especially in Europe, where the

global share of new diesel engines attained about 50%,
reaching even 80% in some countries (Figure 1). This route
of conceiving and producing a competitive diesel engine for
automotive applications has lead to the current situation in
that diesel engines for passenger cars and light-duty vehicles
are nowadays the most complex type of internal combustion
engines, compared not only with spark-ignited but also the
with usual industrial and heavy-duty powerplants.
In many aspects, like the gas management (induction and
exhaust processes), cooling, lubrication, and mechanical
design, diesel engines are similar to SI engines, and some
of the ideas exposed in Internal Combustion Engine (ICE)
Fundamentals and Spark Ignition Engines: State-of-the-Art
and Current Technologies. Future Trends and Developments
are applicable to this type of engine. However, the process
of fuelair mixture formation and combustion are radically
different from the SI engines. This fundamental distinction
induces also some other characteristics that are not essential
but important for practical purposes, which will be addressed
Moreover, this mode of mixture formation and combustion
produces some important results in terms of performance
of the diesel engine and is also responsible for a strong
trend toward the formation of more soot and NOx than in an
equivalent SI engine.
Nevertheless, they have continuously increased their rated
power over the past 15 years on the basis of a continuous
increase in the boost pressure and the improvement of the
fuel injection technology. As shown in Figure 2 (data correspond to Spain, but they are not locally limited), the average
state-of-the-art Diesel-powered light-duty vehicles consume

Reciprocating Engines

Diesel share of new car sales (%)

Western Europe diesel car share







2000 2004 2008 2012
Year ()

2000 2004 2008 2012


Year ()

Engine displacement (l)

Specific power (kW/l)

Fuel consumption (l/100 km)

Figure 1. Market share evolution of diesel engines in Western European countries and prospective toward 2020. Source: Reproduced with
permission from Bedwell, 2013. LMC Automotive Ltd.


2000 2004 2008 2012
Year ()

Figure 2. Evolution of the averaged fuel consumption (a), specific power (b), and engine displacement (c) for the light-duty vehicles with
turbocharged direct injection compression ignition engines marketed in Spain (19992013).

less than 5.5 L/100 km, a level markedly lower than that of
an equivalent vehicle with a SI engine. Moreover, the technology breakthrough has pushed the specific power of CI
engines beyond 50 kW/L, strongly reducing the performance
gap with their competitors. It should be also noted that during
past decades, the engines have suffered an impressive reduction in pollutant emissions of around a 95% as a boundary
condition that adds value to the significant improvement in



Basic operation of CI engines

Compared with the SI engine, the basic difference of the

diesel engine is the ignition and subsequent combustion of
the fuel. During the intake process, only air (or air mixed
with burnt gassee Section 8) is induced into the cylinder.
The start of the combustion process is launched by injecting

fuel directly into the combustion chamber at some instant

close to the end of the compression stroke. The compression
stroke has raised density and temperature of the gas and the
presence of oxygen provoke the auto-ignition of the fuel
typically shortly after the start of the injection, and long
before the end, so that the combustion process takes place
at the same time as the injection.
As the fuel is injected directly into the combustion
chamber at the end of the compression stroke, the fuel
mixing with air has as very short time to happen. Consequently, the injection system must be able to distribute the
fuel across the chamber, for optimally utilizing the most
of the air. In case of using some liquid fuel, which is the
most common case, the jet should be atomized and the
drops evaporated, as fast as possible, what requires very
high injection pressure. The faster the rotational speed of
the engine is, the shorter will be the available time for the
injection and mixing process; therefore, in some occasions,
the injection process has to be assisted by the air motion
in the chamber (swirl, squish, and turbulence), typically
in automotive engines. The swirl motion in the cylinder is

Handbook of Clean Energy Systems, Online 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
This article is 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
This article was published in the Handbook of Clean Energy Systems in 2015 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
DOI: 10.1002/9781118991978.hces079

Compression Ignition Engines

generated by the geometry of the intake ports. The squish
flow is produced by the bowl-like combustion chamber in
the piston, when the piston approaches the top dead center
and forces gases into the bowl. Turbulence can be generated
by the same squish motion or using a pre-chamber in the
cylinder head (indirect injection system). More detail on
these features will be given in Section 3.
Despite all these measures for enhancing the mixing
process, and contrary to SI engines, the conventional CI
combustion mode happens in completely heterogeneous
conditions, with the heat release rate controlled to a great
extent by the injection process (practically by the diffusion
of the fuel in the combustion chamber). This simultaneous
mixing and burning process has some advantages and
drawbacks that are explained later, with respect to the SI


Control of power

restrictions cause that SI engines produce higher specific

power (power per cylinder capacity) than CI engines. This
means that CI engines produce less power than an equivalent SI engine. This has limited the use of diesel engines
in fast vehicles, where power to weight ratio is important.
However, CI engines do not suffer from the typical
combustion abnormalities in SI engines, allowing them to
operate with higher pressures in the combustion chamber
(only limited by mechanical aspects). This means that
CI engines can operate with higher compression ratios
that are a potential for obtaining better cycle efficiency.
Moreover, CI tolerate higher boost pressure levels by
turbocharging, which can compensate their lower specific
power compared with SI engines and contribute to even
better efficiency.


Pollutants formation

In CI engines the fuelair ratio is the independent variable

to control the engine output. The amount of air induced by
the piston motion or by the boosting system into the cylinder
is the maximum possible, and the amount of fuel injected
is controlled to produce the required power. This kind of
power or load control can be called a qualitative regulation,
as the total gas plus fuel mass changes very little, but its
composition or fuelair ratio varies in a very wide range
between 1/18 at full load and 1/900 at idle, when gasoil is
used as a fuel. Unlikely to SI engines, the type of combustion
start by auto-ignition enables the operation of the engine at
such extremely low fuelair ratios. The practical low limit
on the fuelair ratio is set by the fuel quantity required
to overcome the friction of the engine while the practical
high limit is set by particulate emissions and smoke (Taylor,
A great advantage of this load-controlling strategy,
comparing with SI engines, is that it is not necessary to
reduce the induced air mass flow rate (typically done by
choking the intake with a throttling valve) and, consequently,
the pumping work is smaller and the engine efficiency at
low and medium loads is higher.

Regulated pollutant emissions in CI engines are basically the

same as in SI engines: unburnt hydrocarbon (HC), carbon
monoxide (CO), and NOx , with the addition of soot or particulate matter (PM).
Because, as commented, CI engines operate with less than
stoichiometric global equivalence ratios, the emission of HC
and CO is smaller than in the case of SI engines, and in
general this is not a huge problem in the conventional diesel
combustion (CDC).
However, the mixing-controlled combustion leads to reaction conditions in local stoichiometric conditions that lead
to high local temperatures, with a trend to form either NOx
or soot, depending respectively on the excess or shortage
of oxygen in the surroundings of the flame. These formation mechanisms are much more complex, and next sections
present some more details, but here it can be stated that the
trend to NOx and soot emissions is much stronger than in
SI engines, being very difficult to reduce both of them, and
appearing the well-known soot-NOx trade-off.
The different type of the direst pollutants and also the
different in-cylinder conditions lead to different strategies to
reduce emissions in CI and SI engines, as it will we explained



Maximum power and efficiency

The characteristics of the combustion in CI engines cause

a limitation in the maximum speed of this kind of engines,
as the cycle angle needed for combustion tends to largely
increase with engine speed. Besides, the characteristics of
the mixing process in CI engines cause that they have
to work with poor equivalence ratios. This means that CI
engines cannot use all the air mass to burn fuel. Both

Noise emissions

Aside from the same sources of noise that are usual in SI

engines (aerodynamic noise through intake and mechanical
noises), the particular combustion mode in CI engine, characterized by a rapid rise in in-cylinder pressure, is responsible
for the characteristic knock in some diesel engines.
Depending on the engine operating conditions, this
combustion noise can be more or less audible; however,

Handbook of Clean Energy Systems, Online 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
This article is 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
This article was published in the Handbook of Clean Energy Systems in 2015 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
DOI: 10.1002/9781118991978.hces079

Reciprocating Engines

in general, it is louder and more bothersome, than in

an equivalent SI engine, being this one of the important
obstacles for passenger car applications. However, the
development of new injection systems and better combustion chamber designs, together with advanced control
strategies, has allowed to largely mitigating the typical
noise and vibrations levels, making the engine more

It may be remembered that the possible tightening of antipollution laws applicable to industrial and marine engines
will cause that the emission reduction will be also an important particular demand for this type of engines. However, this
demand is more an economical challenge than a technological challenge, as the pollutant abatement measures are well
known and validated in automotive applications.



Present and future technological challenges

Technological evolution of heat engines will be imposed by

society through the various regulations and the price of fuel.
Although it can be expected that environmental laws applied
to industrial and marine engines will be as strict as the environmental laws applied to automotive engines, nowadays the
differences that exist between both environmental requirements produce that challenges for CI engines are slightly
different depending on their use.


Challenges for automotive engines

It can be expected that the interest keeps to further improve

two basic aspects:
Reduce emissions of pollutants: Especially those regulated substances such as nitrogen oxides, PM, CO, and
unburned HCs.
Increase engine efficiency: On the one hand, trying to
reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, either to preserve
the worlds reserves, either for political strategic or
commercial reasons. On the other hand, the efficiency
improvement is possibly the most direct way to reduce
CO2 emissions, one of those responsible for the greenhouse effect.
In the case of automotive engines, a user requirement
is that the car must be also fun to drive. Technical aspects
to consider are the power delivery and torque, vibration,
noise, and so on. An additional objective is always reducing
manufacturing and maintenance costs. However, in the
current market situation, these have a second role in comparison to the needs of increased performance and reduced


Challenges for industrial and marine engines

The main challenges in the near future are:

Reducing the fuel consumption by increasing the engine
Reducing the manufacturing and maintenance costs.

Strategies to overcome CI engine challenges

Strategies applicable to CI engines can be separated

according to the main objective aimed at improving engine
efficiency or reducing pollutant emissions. This situation
arises from the fact that the measures to improve efficiency and the ways to reduce emissions are very often
Some strategies to improve efficiency are:
Optimization of the thermodynamic cycle: The main
way to achieve it in CI engines is using new injection
strategies. Thanks to implementation of electronics in
the injection system, the injection process can be adapted
with high flexibility to every engine operation mode,
for instance, splitting the injection event into several
shots, or modulating the flow rate of the injected fuel.
In addition, variable valve actuation (VVA) systems
allow changing the basic processes such as shortening
the compression stroke for approaching to a Miller
Reduction in the mechanical losses: Focusing in
reducing the friction between elements, for example,
with new lubricants and changing plain bearings by
more sophisticated ones.
Global energy management: In relation with automotive
engines, whose operating conditions are fully variable,
a strategy is to obtain always the optimum temperature of the engine by improving the cooling management. Moreover, a very interesting strategy is to recover
heat energy lost through the cooling system and the
exhaust system. For this, it is possible to install a turbine
in the engine exhaust (turbocompound) or thermoelectric systems in order to obtain extra mechanical work
or electric energy. This is applicable to all CI engines
but, according with Challen and Baranescu (1999), with
more potential for hybrid vehicles or for industrial and
marine engines.
Downsizing: This technique consists in reducing the size
of the engine (displacement or number of cylinders)
while maintaining the power. For this, higher boost pressure and duty cycle conditions are used. To produce the

Handbook of Clean Energy Systems, Online 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
This article is 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
This article was published in the Handbook of Clean Energy Systems in 2015 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
DOI: 10.1002/9781118991978.hces079

Compression Ignition Engines

same power, a miniaturized engine will work on operating points with better performance than a larger one.
Among the strategies to reduce emissions include:
Using new fuels: There are two reasons for the search
for new fuels, which are the strategic interest in reducing
dependence on oil as energy source and the aim to reduce
CO2 emissions. Among developing new fuels is found
biofuels, low carbon fuels, or gasoline-gasoil mixtures
(see Section 6).
Exhaust gas recirculation (EGR): Recirculation of
exhaust burned gases to intake gases aims at reducing
emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx ) owing to a decrease
in the combustion temperature. It is a necessary
technique in CI engines (see Section 8).
Aftertreatment system: In CI engines, there is not a
universally adopted technique to reduce pollutant emissions. The differences are in mitigating the production
of particles or the NOx production and remove the other
contaminant through a post-treatment system. Particulate traps or particulate filters (DPF, diesel particulate
filter) are used to remove particles and reduction catalysts are used for NOx . It is also often included an oxidation catalyst to remove small amounts of CO and HCs
(see Aftertreatment Technologies: State-of-the-Art and
Emerging Technologies).
New combustion modes: New combustion modes are
an internal procedure to reduce particle and NOx emissions avoiding their formation. The key to reduce NOx
emissions is to produce low temperature combustion
(lower than 2200K), while to prevent the formation of
soot is necessary that the combustion occurs with poor
fuel ratios. However, the advantage of the simultaneous
reduction of NOx and soot is opposed by the tendency
to a higher emission of CO and unburned HCs, and a
tendency to produce more combustion noise. However,
the main problem of these combustion modes is the low
performance if the auto-ignition is not well controlled
(see Section 4).
Several of these strategies will be explained in more detail
in the following sections in this article.


Requirements of the injection systems

As already commented, the fuelair mixture formation and

combustion processes are closely related in CI engines, and
in various cases, they occur simultaneously. This lays a set of

limitations and requirements for the fuel injection system and

mixing process so to guarantee the appropriate conditions
for the mixture and combustion process. In general, the
injection system must meet certain demands and bounds that
determine the limits to which the system must be designed
to operate:
The injection event must be appropriately timed to the
angular position of the engine and the piston speed.
The fuel mass injected must be controlled in terms of
total mass and instantaneous mass flow rate so to properly control the combustion process.
The injection system must contribute to enhance the fuel
delivery and mixing process.
Injection systems in CI engines can be separated in two
main concepts: indirect and direct injection systems. In the
case of indirect injection systems, the combustion chamber is
separated in two volumes: the pre-combustion chamber and
the main chamber; both are connected by a small aperture.
Piston displacement moves gases from the main chamber
into the pre-combustion chamber in a highly swirling and
turbulent motion, so gases mix with the fuel being injected.
The gas velocity field plays the key role in the mixing
process, and fuel spray characteristics are not so important;
fuel injection pressures can be relatively low and injector
designs can be kept simple.
In the case of direct injection systems, on the other hand,
fuel is injected directly into the main combustion chamber
where the mixing and combustion occur. The air motion in
this type of chambers is not as intense as in indirect-injection
systems, and the injector plays a major role in the mixing
process. Therefore, fuel must be injected at considerably high
pressures (HPs), to be conveniently atomized and spread in
the chamber so to guarantee the appropriate local conditions
for the combustion process.
The main advantages of an indirect injection system are
simplicity and low cost in both design and manufacturing.
As, in these systems, the injection hardware is not determinant to the combustion quality, the design is simple, injection pressures are low, and general requirements of this
sort permit reliability, serviceability, while reducing production costs. They also present advantages regarding combustion noise and particulate emissions, as the combustion
process is turbulence-controlled and an adequate mixing is
not difficult to achieve. For these reasons, indirect-injection
systems were dominant in the passenger-car market for many
However, direct injection systems present valuable
enhancements regarding fuel consumption, general combustion timing, and development control. Even though
the hardware is considerably more complex in both

Handbook of Clean Energy Systems, Online 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
This article is 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
This article was published in the Handbook of Clean Energy Systems in 2015 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
DOI: 10.1002/9781118991978.hces079

Reciprocating Engines

design and manufacturing, mass production and years

of development have decreased costs to the point that
the advantages of these systems significantly out-weight
These systems have been part of the evolution process
that leads to electronic control and HP turbocharging.
These features considerably increase power output and
reduce fuel consumption and emissions for a given engine
capacity, thus, they have triggered the current trend of
engine downsizing. As emission regulations get more
demanding and fuel consumption standards constantly
decrease, the automotive industry has strongly moved
toward the electronically controlled, turbo-charged, direct
injection systems.


Direct injection systems

Various types of direct injection systems have been developed to meet the particular requirements of each application.
Mainly, direct injection systems can be divided into direct
action systems or accumulation systems.
Direct action systems are those injection systems in which
fuel delivery is controlled by the HP pump and the injector
just atomizes the fuel to create a spray, they are commonly
known as pump-line-nozzle systems (Heywood, 1988). These
systems consist mainly of a cam-driven pump, an HP line,
and the nozzle. The injection pressure is proportional to the
rotational speed of the fuel pump and thus, the engine, and it
is not constant along the injection event. The actual injection
timing is controlled by the phasing of the cam in respect to the

crankshaft, and the start of injection occurs with the injection

pressure rise, which has to overcome a preloaded spring to lift
the needle and open the injector nozzle. The fuel pressurelevel control, fluctuations along the injection event, and poor
control of the injection timing are the main disadvantages of
such systems.
These direct action systems were the first type of direct
injection systems implemented, but they have been replaced
by accumulation systems in which the injector controls both
the fuel delivery and atomization. In accumulation systems,
the HP pump builds pressure that is not immediately relieved
but accumulated, as the nozzle opening is independently
controlled by the injector.
The first of these systems to be introduced is the socalled pump-injector. In this system, the fuel pump and the
injector are confined to a single unit bolted to the cylinder
head and driven by the camshaft. Each unit has its own
solenoid valve that controls the injection event timing and
duration. Considering that the pump-injector system offers
a great number of advantages over the pump-line-nozzle
system, it still lacks features that the ever-more demanding
fuel consumption and exhaust emission standards require.
For instance, although injection timing is controlled electronically, the pressure build-up is still cam-driven and phased to
the crankshaft position, and this complicates the implementation of multiple injections per combustion stroke and the
pressure-level control.
The common rail system has become the standard injection system in light-, medium-, and partially heavy-duty
applications (Flaig, Wilhelm, and Ziegler, 1999). Figure 3
depicts a standard common rail system.
Fuel pressure

Low pressure fuel pump

Rail pressure

Fuel tank

Fuel filter
Fuel injectors
High pressure
fuel pump

Crankshaft Camshaft
position position


Figure 3. Main components of a standard common rail injection system.

Handbook of Clean Energy Systems, Online 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
This article is 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
This article was published in the Handbook of Clean Energy Systems in 2015 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
DOI: 10.1002/9781118991978.hces079




Compression Ignition Engines

Common rail injection systems are constituted by a fuel
tank, low pressure (LP) and HP pumps, a fuel rail, an electronic pressure regulator, common rail injectors, various HP
and LP fuel lines and the electronic control unit (ECU)
with its wiring harness and sensors. The HP fuel pump is
driven by the engine and builds pressure that is stored in the
common rail at a constant level. The pressure level is electronically controlled by the pressure regulator that bypasses
excess fuel back to the tank, depending on the pressure set
point. All injectors are fed from the common rail through
HP lines and as their actuation is hydraulic, more fuel than
what is injected is needed to drive each injection event.
Excess fuel flows back to the tank through LP return lines.
The actual injection timing and duration is controlled by the
ECU, which interpolates values from pre-programmed maps
depending on the reading of several control signals. Typical
engine control signals are those obtained from the crankshaft
position sensor (engine speed), camshaft position sensor
(engine phase in respect to the four-stroke cycle), throttle
position sensor (TPS), manifold absolute pressure (MAP),
intake air temperature (IAT), and engine coolant temperature (ECT), but many other may be utilized for further
The injector is certainly the most complex component of
the common rail system. A cutaway of a typical common rail
injector is depicted in Figure 4.
This type of injector uses the HP generated by the pump
as a source of energy to lift the needle or keep it against its



Figure 4. Section view of a typical common rail injector. (1) High

pressure fitting, (2) fuel filter, (3) control valve, (4) injector body,
(5) needle spring, (6) nozzle, and (7) needle.

seat. This hydraulic control of the injector is the key as it

only requires a small quantity of energy to operate while
a direct action on the needle would require hundreds of
times more.
In newer injector generations, the solenoid has been
replaced by a piezoelectric system that offers a better control
for smaller injection timings and presents a faster response,
thus potentially increasing the number of injections per
cycle and timing control precision.
The common rail injection system presents the same
advantages of the pump-injector, but as pressure is constantly
built up in the rail, features such as multiple injections
are much easier to implement in comparison to the pumpinjector system. In addition, as the ECU is monitoring a large
set of control signals, a group of control and correction strategies have been developed to help with fuel consumption,
emissions, noise, driveability, and so on.


Spray structure and development

The very end of the injection system is the nozzle. The

orifice geometry determines the flow inside the nozzle and,
therefore, the behavior of the flow at the outlet, entering the
combustion chamber. The main parameter of an injection
nozzle is the discharge coefficient, which is dependent on
internal features of the orifice such as lengthdiameter ratio,
convergence of the orifice, and entrance radius.
The phenomenon of cavitation, which reduces the
discharge coefficient of the injection system, may occur
under certain conditions but can be controlled or canceled
with the appropriate internal design of the nozzle orifices.
The conditions of the flow at the outlet, velocity, turbulence,
cavitation, and so on determine the behavior of spray
development (Payri et al., 2008).
When penetrating in the combustion chamber, the liquid
flow injected at high velocity encounters the ambient gases
that are comparatively still. Figure 5 depicts the macroscopic
spray structure. Owing to aerodynamic forces principally, the
liquid core atomizes into liquid structures during the first
breakup process (primary atomization) and into small and
round droplets with the second breakup (Reitz and Bracco,
Depending on the temperature of the ambient gases, the
spray may experience evaporation. In the case of CI engines,
temperatures are high and thus evaporation occurs and plays
a key role. In the evaporative spray, the liquid spray reaches
a certain distance from the nozzle [referred to as liquid
length, (Payri et al., 2008)] and then penetrates further in
the chamber as a gas jet. The characteristics of the spray
depend mainly on the density of the ambient gases but
also on spreading angle and momentum flux of the spray

Handbook of Clean Energy Systems, Online 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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This article was published in the Handbook of Clean Energy Systems in 2015 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
DOI: 10.1002/9781118991978.hces079

Reciprocating Engines

Dense spray

Dilute spray





Detachment of ligaments
(primary atomization)

Formation of droplets
from ligaments
(secondary atomization)

Figure 5. Illustration of the macroscopic structure of the direct injection diesel spray.

As the spray penetrates the chamber, a momentum

exchange occurs between the spray and the ambient gas.
This means that the spray causes air entrainment that
enhances atomization, mixture rates, and quality. As it is
the spray momentum that causes the air entrainment and
mixing, the injection pressure level is key and thus it has
been increased in the past decade (in some cases up to
250 MPa) to address this subject.


Injector and spray control strategies

As stated earlier, fuel atomization and air entrainment are

controlled by the injector. Reducing nozzle diameter considerably enhances atomization and mixing, so nozzle diameters have been continuously reduced and diameters of
80 m are now commercial. Consequently, this decreases
nominal mass flow rate so multi-orifice nozzles from 5 to
11 orifices have been studied. Finding the optimal orifice
diameter and orifice number combination is a very complex
problem, which depends on a large group of factors and the
optimal combination may be very particular for each application.
Increasing injection pressure helps to maintain target
mass flow rates when decreasing nozzle diameter and also
increases atomization quality and air entrainment. Injection
pressures have been also in rise, and currently, injection pressures of up to 300 MPa are being studied.
Current standard control strategies present multiple
injections per combustion event. Complete studies on
multiple injections can be found in the works of Flaig,
Wilhelm, and Ziegler (1999) and of Mendez and Thirouard
(2008). With current direct injection engines, which
exhibit high compression ratios, multiple early injections
called pilot injections are added in order to reduce the

combustion noise. The noise reduction occurs owing to

splitting the heat release process, which decreases the
peak heat release. It is achieved using several injections
in the appropriate thermodynamic and auto-ignition delay
conditions in order to reduce the instantaneous fuel burning
rate. Moreover, in some operating conditions, a late injection (usually referred to as post-injection) may also be
employed during the expansion stroke, for after-treatment
Multiple injection strategies can also be used to better
control the spatial fuel distribution to enhance the air use in
the combustion chamber. Generally, this effect can lead to
a reduction in particulate emissions at intermediate engine
loads, allowing for potentially higher EGR rate. An illustration of the objectives of every shot is represented qualitatively later in Figure 22.
It is important to point out that both the actual nozzle
opening and particularly the actual nozzle closing present
significant time delays in respect to their control signals,
so this must be accounted for. Piezoelectric control valves
help in this regard, decreasing response times. This is especially important in very short injections such a pilot or
injections, where the needle never reaches full lift. For this
reason, a full injector characterization is common during
the development phase of a particular engine. Figure 6
illustrates such injection events in a real case (two pilots,
one main, and two post-injections), where both the injector
command electrical current and the actual injection rate
are plotted. It can be observed how there is a nonnegligible delay between the command and the real injection
The main contribution to the heat release comes from
the main injection, which is commonly the longest
injection per combustion event. The longer the injection

Handbook of Clean Energy Systems, Online 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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This article was published in the Handbook of Clean Energy Systems in 2015 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
DOI: 10.1002/9781118991978.hces079

Spray tip penetration (mm)


Mass flow rate (g/s)


Vapor phase
Liquid phase



Time (ms)

Figure 6. Real plots of command electrical current and injection

mass flow rate in a case with two pilots, one main, and two postinjections events.

duration is, the larger will be the total heat release and
thus the torque output. As exposed earlier, the actual
timing (in respect to the crankshaft or piston position)
and duration of the main injection are instructed by
the ECU, which interpolates these values out of pre-set
two or three dimensional look-up tables. The injection
duration and timing depend mainly on driver torque
demand, engine rotational speed and phase, but a large
set of correction factors may be applied to account for
the effects of variables such as intake air pressure and
temperature, coolant temperature, electric system voltage,
current gear selection, and transient effects such as sudden




Probable future improvements

The near future of direct injection systems is the further

development of the successful common rail system. Nextgeneration systems could feature injection pressures up to
300 MPa, for instance. Another innovation in current development for this system is the ability to control the needle
lift in a continuous manner. Current common rail injectors
offer only full lift or close conditions, but direct-acting piezoelectric injectors that permit partial needle lifts are being
studied. This enables not only multiple injection rate possibilities for a single injector (through partial needle lifts) but
also injection rate shaping, both of which open a series of
possibilities for combustion control that could lead to nextgeneration fuel consumption and emission commercial standards. Figure 7 illustrates the real operation of a direct-acting

Mass flow rate (g/s)

Intensity (A)

Compression Ignition Engines





Time (ms)

Figure 7. Injection rate shapes (square and boot) produced by a

direct-acting injector and the corresponding spray tip penetration.
Injection is produced in a test rig without wall impingement.

piezoelectric injection, producing a two-step injection rate

event (boot-shape) and the corresponding effects in the spray
tip penetration.
Another realistic development for the future of injection
systems is the dual fuel setup. Many applications are being
developed where two fuels are utilized to better control
each phase of the combustion process and thus enhance
consumption capabilities and reduce exhaust emissions. An
interesting development for heavy-duty diesel engines is the
Westport concept, based on an injector with a double fuel
circuit, able to inject natural gas and gasoil simultaneously
or sequentially (Ouellette and Douville, 2001).


Conventional diesel combustion

In the previous sections, it has been already implied that the

characteristic combustion in CI engines, based on the burning
of a fuel spray in an oxidizing atmosphere, is a very complex
process involving closely interrelated physical and chemical
phenomena. However, nowadays, the most relevant aspects
of this combustion process are well known, and a detailed
description is easily found in the classic internal combustion
engine literature (Heywood, 1988).

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Reciprocating Engines

Injector control
electrical signal

Injection rate








Late slow





15 EoC 20


Figure 8. Temporal description of the injection-controlled diesel

combustion, with the four main stages defined from the injection
and heat release events (Heywood, 1988).

In the CDC concept, the liquid diesel fuel spray is injected

at HP into the previously compressed gas trapped inside
the combustion chamber delimited by the cylinder head,
liner, and piston walls. From this moment, a sequence of
processes develop including the atomization of the liquid
vein, the evaporation of the fuel, the turbulent mixing
between the fuel and the surrounding gas, and finally the
fuel oxidation.
The usual temporal description of the CDC concept shown
in Figure 8 is based on following the time evolution of the
fuel injection and the fuel burning (or the equivalent heat
release) rates. From the start of injection, four well-defined
sequential stages are easily identified with different intrinsic
The first auto-ignition delay stage corresponds to the time
between the start of injection and the start of combustion. It
is during this initial stage when all the physical and chemical processes required to ignite a suitable air/fuel gaseous
mixture happen. Therefore, this stage comprises the physical delay related to the time spent mainly by the atomization and evaporation processes to generate an ignitable
gaseous air/fuel mixture, and the chemical delay accounting
for the kinetics of the auto-ignition of this air/fuel mixture
at the given thermodynamic conditions. In state-of-the-art
CI engines, the physical processes are much faster than
the diesel auto-ignition kinetics so the auto-ignition delay
stage duration is essentially controlled by the chemical
delay. This is the reason explaining the correlation observed
between this auto-ignition stage duration and the combustion

chamber thermochemical conditions (pressure, temperature,

and oxygen concentration) according to an Arrhenius expression, being the temperature the most influential parameter as
usual in chemical processes.
The next premixed combustion stage is in fact closely
related with the previous auto-ignition delay stage as the
fuel already mixed within the auto-ignition limits burns in
a very short time, so the heat release rate usually shows a
sharp and narrow profile. This fast energy release results in
a sharp cylinder pressure rise. The fuel quantity burnt in
this premixed combustion stage and then the total energy
released depend fundamentally on the duration of the autoignition delay stage and the amount of fuel injected during
this time, but also to some extent on the mixing strength
during this time.
The third and fast diffusion-controlled combustion stage
develops if fuel is still being injected after the premixed
combustion stage. This condition occurs normally except
at very light loads, when the injected fuel mass is very
small. In this stage, the combustion process adopts the
spatial structure characteristic of a burning spray flame as it
will be described in detail later. The fuel burning and heat
release rates are basically controlled by the physics associated to the spray mixing process, which is mainly driven
by the spray momentum flux, while the chemical kinetics
processes are much faster, and are not a limiting factor.
Finally, the late slow diffusion-controlled combustion starts
after the end of injection, when fuel mixing rate decays
as the spray momentum flux dissipates and the combustion
chamber volume grows rapidly owing to the piston motion
in the expansion stroke. Consequently, the fuel burning and
heat release rates progressively decrease and the spray flame
structure is lost.
Each one of these stages influences engine performance,
emissions, and noise. Current technologies (boosting, injection, EGR, and combustion chamber design) change to some
extent the four combustion phases, and thus the engine


Burning diesel spray structure

The spatial description of the CDC concept was developed

much later, in the 1990 decade, by means of the application of
advanced optical techniques (Dec, 1997). A recent example
of the burning spray visualization by the Schlieren technique
obtained by the authors is given in Figure 9.
At the beginning of combustion, during the premixed
combustion stage, the reaction locates inside the fuel spray
in between the length where the flame stabilizes in quasysteady conditions, widely known as lift-off length, and the
spray tip. The local conditions in terms of equivalence

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Compression Ignition Engines



Figure 9. (a) Schlieren sequence of images describing the temporal

and spatial evolution of a reacting diesel spray during the autoignition and (b) the flame stabilization until reaching a quasi-steady
mixing-controlled combustion stages.

ratio where this premixed combustion develops are critical

for pollutant formation as NOx and soot formation depend
basically on this mean local equivalence ratio. In conventional diesel operating conditions, the premixed combustion
progresses in rich conditions, in zones with equivalence ratio
between 2 and 4, although isolated regions with lower or
higher equivalence ratios can be also observed (Espey et al.,
Along the premixed combustion stage, the diffusion flame enveloping the spray starts to form from the
reacting zones. From here and during the fast diffusioncontrolled combustion, the flame front consolidates, being
supported by the convective and diffusive supply of fuel and


At this moment, the diesel spray shifts to a quasy-steady

stage in which the general characteristics of the spray and
flame preserve, but their length progressively increases.
Nowadays, the most widely accepted conceptual model for
describing the diesel diffusive flame in quasy-steady conditions was proposed by Dec (1997) and completed later by
Flynn et al. (1999) to define the structure shown in Figure 10.
According to this model, it exists a first zone between the
nozzle exit and the minimum axial distance where the flame
stabilizes (lift-off length) in which the conditions are similar
than those observed for the nonreacting spray. In this region,
all processes related to atomization, air entrainment, and
evaporation take place, but they are affected by the diffusive
flame evolving downstream.
From the lift-off length, the spray shifts to reacting conditions, beginning by a premixed reaction zone just after this
lift-off length where the oxygen already entrained into the
spray along the first inert zone is consumed. In conventional diesel operating conditions, this premixed combustion happens in rich mixture conditions, at local equivalence
ratios about 4, so the main products are partially oxidized
HCs flowing along the spray and acting as soot precursors.
After this premixed reaction zone, the spray adopts the
typical diffusive flame structure, with an internal zone
including nonburnt fuel, partially oxidized HCs and soot,
all enveloped by the reaction surface stabilized around the
local stoichiometric equivalence ratio. Thus, thermal NO
are mostly formed following the thermal path owing to
the oxygen availability at the periphery of the very high
temperature flame, while soot precursors appear inside
the fuel spray owing to both high temperature and lack
of oxygen (Dec and Canaan, 1998). The key parameter
controlling soot formation is the local equivalence ratio at
the lift-off length; therefore, the lower this equivalence ratio
is, the lower will be the soot precursors formation during
the premixed combustion (Pickett and Siebers, 2006). The
equivalence ratio at the lift-off length is controlled mainly
by the temperature and density of the gas in the chamber, by
the injection pressure and by the reactivity and molecular
composition of the fuel. The oxygen concentration increases
the lift-off length but does not affect the local equivalence
Finally, after the end of injection and during the slow
diffusion-controlled combustion stage, the flame progressively loses its structure, the premixed reaction zone disappears, and several pockets of fuel and soot burning in
diffusive conditions form. During this stage, thermal NO
is still being formed and soot is oxidized. Both processes
depend on the rate at which the combustion chamber gas
decreases its temperature, but following opposite trends, so

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Reciprocating Engines
liquid length
Lift-off length

RoHR (%)

RoHR 10 15%

NOx (rel)

Soot (% fuel)

T/100 (K)


T 1600 K

T 700 K

T 2700 K




Fuel-rich premixed flame

Initial soot formation
Thermal NO production zone
Soot oxidation zone


Mixture formation

Soot formation zone (YO = 0)


Rich premixed
(Fr 4)


(Fr 1)

Figure 10. Sketch of the structure of the quasi-steady flame during the fast mixing-controlled combustion stage according to the conceptual
model described by Dec (1997) and Flynn et al. (1999).

this explains the NOx and soot trade-off characteristic of

diesel engines.
From previous description of the CDC concept, present
trends in diesel engine design are evident, so the current technology include a pilot injection or rate shaping to control
auto-ignition delay and the premixed combustion stage in
an attempt to decrease cylinder pressure gradients and noise.
Concerning the NOx and soot emissions control by internal
measures, the path followed is based on introducing external
cooled EGR to control NOx by reducing the oxygen concentration of the gas inside the combustion chamber, slowing
down the chemical reactions involved in the thermal NO
formation. This action promotes soot emissions by worsening late soot oxidation, so it should be counterbalanced
with other measures such as decreasing nozzle orifice diameter and increasing injection and boost pressures to enhance
the soot late oxidation processes.
Aside from these strategies, new advanced combustion
concepts are being investigated with the aim of avoiding
thermal NO formation as usual, but also controlling soot

by avoiding its formation. These combustion concepts

are still far from being applied in production engines,
but great research efforts are being carried out owing
to the impressive results reported in terms of pollutant


New combustion modes and their challenges

Looking at the combustion process from the local equivalence ratio and temperature conditions inside the combustion
chamber as shown in Figure 11 (Kamimoto and Bae, 1988),
it is clear how different suitable options arise for avoiding
both NOx and soot formation processes. A comprehensive
review of the advanced combustion concepts recently developed in the frame of CI engines is already available in
the literature (Dec, 2009; Musculus, Miles, and Pickett,
Research works performed in the past two decades have
confirmed how promoting a lean premixed combustion by
detaching the fuel injection event from the combustion

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Compression Ignition Engines




Equivalence ratio ()













Temperature (K)

Figure 11. Schematic description of new combustion modes in

terms of local conditions plotted in the equivalence ratio versus
temperature map introduced by Kamimoto and Bae (1988).

process is an interesting alternative for reducing these pollutant emissions. This combustion concept based on attaining
sufficiently lean and homogeneous local equivalence ratios,
well below the stoichiometric value, is widely known as
homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI). This
lean combustion slows down or even avoids the chemical
reactions leading to thermal NOx formation owing to the
drastic reduction of the local temperatures inside the combustion chamber, while soot formation is also hindered by the
absence of high local equivalence ratios during the combustion process.
The injection strategies commonly reported in the literature as suitable for implementing a highly premixed combustion (HPC) concept, with different levels of local air/fuel
mixture homogeneity, are the port-fuel injection, where the
fuel is injected at the intake port and mixes with the air before
entering into the cylinder, and the direct injection characteristic of current CI engines. However, despite producing a
perfectly homogeneous lean air/fuel mixture, port fuel injection of usual fuels for CI engines is not a realistic alternative
because of its limited efficiency, high HC and CO emissions,
early onset of the combustion process, lack of combustion
phasing control and high noise. In addition, as diesel fuels
have poor evaporation characteristics, they create a wall film
that does not evaporate from the intake port walls because
the temperatures there are not high enough.


The direct injection strategy comprises two different alternatives suitable to produce an HPC, consisting of injecting
the fuel early during the compression stroke or late during
the expansion stoke. In the late direct injection alternative, as
in the modulated kinetics (MK) or the highly premixed late
injection (HPLI) concepts, the injection is placed just after
the TDC and the fuel should ignite also relatively close to
the TDC as displacing the combustion toward the expansion
stroke produces combustion instability, high levels of CO
and HC, and the sharp decrease on engine efficiency caused
by a delayed combustion phasing observed in Figure 12
(Benajes et al., 2004). Then, the practical application of the
late direct injection alternative is limited by the available
mixing time and the high sensitivity of the engine efficiency
to combustion phasing, especially at high engine speed or
loads, where it requires an extremely fine tuning and control
of different engine parameters, such as the EGR rate and the
swirl level.
In the early injection alternative, the injection event can
be arbitrarily advanced toward the compression stroke while
combustion starts relatively close to the TDC, increasing
the mixing time available for producing a suitable premixed
combustion without intrinsically compromising the engine
efficiency. However, injection timing is usually set close to
the TDC as in the case of the premixed charge compression
ignition (PCCI) concept, and the lack of homogeneity caused
by a shortened mixing time is compensated by introducing
EGR to reduce the temperatures in those zones of the mixture
that reacts in locally stoichiometric combustion. This early
direct injection represents the most promising alternative for
implementing the HPC concept, as it is also confirmed by
numerous investigations reported in the literature. However,
the HPC concept attained by advancing the injection timing
is still under investigation as it presents important challenges
mainly related to avoiding liquid fuel impingement onto the
cylinder liner surface, controlling the combustion phasing
and burning rates, and extending the range of operation of
the concept in terms of engine load. Figure 13 evidences
the differences between the burning rates generated with the
CDC and the early injection HPC concepts, which are much
shorter and faster.
As discussed, HPC concepts have been widely investigated as combustion technologies to avoid soot and NOx
engine-out emissions. However, despite the research efforts
and promising results obtained by means of these HPC strategies, ignition timing control and load limits are still the main
challenges for its practical application. Owing to these drawbacks, the mixing-controlled low temperature combustion
(MC-LTC) strategy arises as an alternative to overcome the
lack of ignition timing control of the highly premixed strategies as well as the NOx -soot trade-off characteristic of the
conventional diffusive combustion.

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Reciprocating Engines

2 aTDC


Dry soot (g/kwh)

BSFC (%)



4 aTDC







sNOx (g/kWh)

Figure 12. Pollutant emissions and fuel consumption trends observed while retarding the injection event for achieving a late injection HPC
concept. Source: Reproduced with permission from CMT-Motores Termicos.

Diesel low NOx

RoHR (J/cad)


Diesel high NOx

PPC gasoline triple injection







Crank angle (cad aTDC)

Figure 13. Different RoHR profiles comparing the CDC concept for low NOx (with DeNOx catalyst), CDC concept for high NOx (without
DeNOx catalyst), and early injection HPC concept.

Three different alternatives to attain mixing-controlled

non-sooting low flame temperature diesel combustion have
been reported from the research results obtained in an
optically accessible, quiescent constant-volume combustion
vessel (Pickett and Siebers, 2004). The first is based on the
use of reduced nozzle hole diameters; the second consists of
sharply decreasing the ambient gas temperature; and the third
needs the use of extensive EGR to reduce the gas oxygen
concentration (YO2 ) as shown in Figure 12.
Different investigations confirmed the feasibility of the
MC-LTC concept for avoiding NOx and soot emissions
formation in an HSDI diesel engine (Benajes et al., 2010),
as shown in Figure 14. The MC-LTC concept was implemented with success by introducing massive EGR rates, so
following the third alternative, but the sootless and zero-NOx

combustion process was proven to intrinsically generate high

levels of HC and CO emissions, together with lower engine


Regulated pollutants in CI engines

The main contribution of pollutant emission from an

engine is due to exhaust gases released to the atmosphere, especially in CI engines running on little volatile
fuels. Health studies show that exposure to diesel exhaust
primarily affects the respiratory system and worsens
asthma, allergies, bronchitis, and lung function. There is

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Compression Ignition Engines

Tint = 40C






Soot (g/kgfuel)



40 kg/m3
35 kg/m3
30 kg/m3
26 kg/m3










NOx (g/kgfuel)

Figure 14. Pollutant emissions trends observed during the implementation of the mixing-controlled LTC concept. Source: Reproduced from Benajes et al., 2010. Elsevier.

some evidence that diesel exhaust exposure can increase

the risk of heart problems, premature death, and lung
The combustion process produces many substances that
find their way to the atmosphere, but during normal operation, the proportion of those considered toxic is very small
compared with the rest of products from the clean combustion (Figure 15). In addition to this, very few of these
substances are considered legally pollutants and regulated by
the standards (Turns, 1996).
Non pollutants substances. Water (H2 O), carbon dioxide
(CO2 ), and oxygen appear in clean combustion. Considering
CO2 as a not polluting gas is questionable, as it is the
main potential precursor of the so-called greenhouse effect.
In the cases of incomplete combustion, hydrogen (H2 ) is
formed too.
Regulated pollutants. Their origin varies greatly. The
incomplete combustion produces CO and unburned HC.

Figure 16. Typical composition of pollutant emissions in a diesel


There may also be oxidation products of the intake air

nitrogen (NOx ), and pollutants from fuel sulfur (SOx).
Finally, there is PM, containing solid (ISF) and soluble
organic fractions (SOF) of particles from elemental carbon
formed during combustion.
Figure 16 shows the typical percentage of the more important pollutants in the exhaust gas of a light-duty diesel engine
following one of the standard cycles.
The increasing importance in reducing pollutants emission
from CI engines has been stronger on automotive and heavyduty transportation engines, owing to their greater number
and proximity to living beings. Other engines, such as those
in railway or marine applications, are bounded by less severe


Pollutants formation

The basic pollutant formation chemistry is very similar in

SI and CI engines, but the global operating conditions and
local phenomena are very different, owing to the typical
mixture formation and combustion processes (Heywood,

Carbon dioxide

Figure 15. Typical composition of diesel combustion products.

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Reciprocating Engines

SOx + H2O



Figure 17. Typical composition of particulate matter.

1988). Therefore, while in a CDC, CO and unburned HCs

are not very problematic, NOx and soot or PM are the main


Nitrous oxides (NOx )

In CI engines, NOx formation is due mainly to the so-called

thermal mechanism, caused by the high local temperatures
during combustion process and lean mixtures with excess
of oxygen. It leads in the oxidation of the nitrogen of air.
As, in the combustion chamber of the CI engine, there
are wide regions with lean mixture, NOx formation is very
sensible to the increase in combustion temperature. Hence,
all the measures that produce an increase in the gas temperatures (high compression ratio, turbocharging) or in the rate
of heat release (high injection pressure, advanced injection
timing, and so on) will probably produce an increase in NOx


Soot and particulate matter

Soot is basically carbon particles of certain size and color that

make them visible. PM is a more general term that includes
soot (visible or not), but also other small particles (solid
or liquid). The older emissions standards used the opacity
of the exhaust gases as an indirect measurement of soot
concentration, while current regulations focus on the mass,
number, and size of the particles collected by some filtering
Soot emission is the final result of a formation phase
following by an oxidation process. The formation is
produced mainly by a very rich mixture entering the flame
at the lift-off section of the diesel spray (see Figure 10).
The high temperature and default of oxygen leads to a
dehydrogenation of the HCs. If the resulting soot particles
are not burned later when they cross the flame around the
spray envelop, they will exit the engine. In CI engines,

soot is produced mainly when global mixture is very rich

(excessive fuel injected), or when the mixing conditions
are bad (low injection pressure, low in-cylinder gas density,
injector malfunctioning, and so on).
Soot particles or PM in general are the result of complex
phenomena of agglomeration and nucleation, but also of
adsorption of other substances in their surface. Figure 17
shows the typical composition of the particles emitted in CI
In general, those conditions that lead to a reduction in NOx
emissions produce an increase in soot and PM, as it will be
illustrated later.


Carbon monoxide (CO)

The generated CO at the end of the diesel combustion

depends on the balance between formation processes (fast
reactions) and oxidation (slow reactions), being both very
active at high temperatures. In general, if temperature is high
enough, the main cause for high CO emissions is the excessively rich mixtures, that is, the default of oxygen. This is
not a common situation in CI engines that operate with lean
mixtures, with excess of oxygen, but a small CO amount can
be produced as the recombination process has some inertia
that there is not enough time for the entire CO to oxidize to
CO2 , as expansion and exhaust processes are relatively fast.
In general, the CO emission in CI engines is smaller than in
SI engines. A different situation appears in the case of CI
engines operating at any of the low temperatures combustion
modes, especially in HPC. In these circumstances, the excessively lean mixtures and the low combustion temperatures
are responsible for high CO emissions.


Unburned hydrocarbons (HC)

In diesel engines, the formation of HC takes place mainly

by incomplete combustion in those inner spray regions with

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Compression Ignition Engines

Soot (g/m3)

Concentration (ppm-Vol)












As commented earlier, smoke opacity was substituted by

PM mass as the evaluating parameter for assessing the environmental impact of CI engines. However, the hazard on
health is more linked to the particulate size than on the total
mass. Smaller particles are more dangerous, as they stay
longer suspended in the air, and after inhalation, they reach
deeper in the airways. The typical size of the particles emitted
from a diesel engine varies from a few nanometers to about
30 m (Giechaskiel et al., 2014). Figure 19 shows a typical
size distribution of particles and their contribution to total
mass. It can be observed that the many small particulates
have a small share in the total mass.

Figure 18. Typical trends in pollutant emissions as a function of

the global equivalence ratio.

very rich mixture, and that cannot be oxidized later owing
to defective mixing or reduction in the chamber temperature
during expansion stroke. Another eventual source of HC is
the impingement of the spray on the piston, especially if the
fuel wets the piston/cylinder walls. Aside from the gaseous
emission of HC, some HCs can be adsorbed in the particle
matter after condensation on the particles surface, adhering
to them and being included in their structure.
One way of globally understanding the pollutant formation
trends in CI engines is representing the emission concentration as a function of the global equivalence ratio, as represented in Figure 18. The plotted trends evidence that there
is not an optimal range of equivalence ratio, where all the
emission are low, except perhaps at very lean mixtures, which
correspond with low load operating conditions of the engine,
being CO and HC relatively high in this zone.

Present and future trends in emissions


As already commented, there is not an easy way of reducing

simultaneously the generation of all the emission from
CI engine by controlling the usual operating conditions.
Moreover, some of the actions that lead to the reduction
of a particular pollutant may have a negative impact on
fuel consumption or on engine noise and durability (Heck,
Farrauto, and Suresh, 2009). However, as it has been
mentioned earlier, along the past decades, CI engines emissions have been greatly reduced, and so has been the fuel
consumption. The success in this pursuit has been mainly
due to two kinds of actions:
Internal measures: based on the optimized design of
the engine and the control of the air management and
injection systems, aiming at preventing the production


Concentration N/Nmax (%)

Nucleation mode

Accumulation mode









Particle diameter (nm)

Figure 19. Typical distribution of exhaust particulate size and their contribution to total mass.
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Reciprocating Engines

of the pollutants in the combustion chamber, that is,

limiting engine-out emissions.
External measures (aftertreatment): based on
inserting devices that can extremely reduce pollutants leaving the cylinder, thus reducing the tailpipe
Internal measures, despite dealing with the source of the
problem without requiring additional equipment, are not able
to fulfill the severe limits imposed by current and upcoming
regulations. Hence, in automotive engines and heavy-duty
vehicles, some kind of aftertreatment device has been necessary since several years.
As discussed earlier, it might be concluded that there is a
conflict between the formation of different pollutants, mainly
between NOx and soot. As explained earlier, NOx own their
origin mainly to high combustion temperatures and high
oxygen content, favorable conditions to soot formation and
CO and HC reduction. Figure 20 illustrates the achievements
of the different techniques used currently in the inexorable
NOx -soot trade-off.
Finally, it should be noted that although CO2 is not considered a limiting pollutant emission, there is a growing pressure to reduce the emission of this gas, especially from
the passenger car fleets. There are two basic strategies to
achieve this goal: reducing fuel consumption and burning
fuels that generate less CO2 in his cycle life (from well to
wheel). As far as the first strategy, there is a linear relation between fuel burnt and CO2 emissions. Hence, all the
measures that allow reducing fuel consumption will be favorable. However, the expected results from applying engine
design and control techniques may not be enough, and here a
complete world of vehicle design and management strategies

are being developed. On the other side, using low carbon

fuels or biofuels can contribute to the reduction of the
well-to-wheel emissions. In this sense, new generations of
biodiesel fuel are being developed, as well as the combination of different fuels. It should be considered that some
of these new fuels with typically higher contents in oxygen
tend to produce a reduction in soot but an increase in NOx


Internal techniques

These techniques are known as active solutions and basically

are always affected by the trade-off between NOx and soot,
with the exception of the new combustion modes.
Combustion chamber design. In direct-injection diesel
engines, the combustion chamber is shaped as a bowl on
the piston head. The smaller the diameter of the bowl is,
the faster the air motion will be when piston approaches top
dead center and during the injection process. This increase in
flow velocity is due to the squish of the gas into the cylinder
and to the acceleration of the swirl motion produced during
the intake process. In all, the mean velocity field and the
turbulence improve the fuelair mixture, which helps in
shortening the combustion process, and can improve fuel
consumption. This measure tends to reduce soot formation
and to increase NOx emissions. Moreover, the high gas
velocities increase heat transfer and this can counteract the
benefits in terms of efficiency improvement by combustion
In large and slowly rotating CI engines (industrial and
marine applications), where combustion does not need to
be extremely fast, the trend has been toward a quiescent
chamber, leaving to the injection system the role of a good

Particulate trap

Soot emissions

Injection + combustion


State of
the art

Injection +
combustion +
air management

New combustion

NOx emission

Figure 20. Possible internal and external measures for tailpipe NOx or soot reduction.
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Compression Ignition Engines

mixing, and so attaining a high fuel efficiency by reducing
heat losses.
In automotive, high speed engines, the usual objective has
been the opposite; however, in the past decade, for a better
fuel efficiency, the trend has been reducing the gas motion by
open and shallow combustion bowl designs, exploiting the
power of the new injection systems for the fuelair mixture
Injection system upgrade. Increase in injection pressure. As already commented in Section 3, the injection
systems have been improved for higher injection pressures, and a better control of the fuel delivery, resulting
in general in better fuel atomization. The increase in
injection pressure enhances both fuel atomization and air
entrainment into the spray, speeding up combustion. The
immediate consequences are the reduction in soot, CO,
and HC, and an increase in efficiency. However, the NOx
emissions tend to increase owing to the higher combustion
temperatures achieved. Figure 21 shows the commented
effects of increasing injection pressure in a heavy-duty
engine, at different EGR rates, which will be commented
These injection strategies, despite producing a smaller
amount of soot mass, tend to produce a larger number of
particulates with smaller size, with their worse impact for
living beings. This is moving to establish new regulations
that limit not only total particulate mass but also the number
of particulates.

BSFC (g/kWh)




Dry soot (g/kWh)

BP = 3.45 bar





840 bar
970 bar
1100 bar
0% EGR




SNOx (g/kWh)

Figure 21. Effects of increasing EGR and boost pressure on the

NOx -soot trade-off in conventional diesel combustion.


NOxsoot trade-off optimization

Pilot I

Pilot II

Combustion noise and NOx reduction



Soot oxidation

Figure 22. Multiple injections strategy for control of emissions and


Other improvements made in the injection process are the

capability of modulating the injection rate, especially in the
cases of common-rail systems and direct-acting injectors (see
Section 3). A common application is the multiple injection
event, which splits the injection process in several pulses, as
illustrated in Figure 22.
Pilot injection (or pre-injection). It is a technique
commonly used in light-duty engines in order to reduce
the combustion noise. It involves injecting a small quantity
of fuel few degrees before the main injection. In this way,
the amount of fuel burned is reduced during the premixed
combustion phase. Its impact on exhaust emissions is scarce,
but reduces the noise that is one of the classic problems of
the diesel engine.
Post-injection. It involves injecting a small amount of fuel
few degrees after the end of the main injection. This small
amount of post-injected fuel will not burn under optimum
conditions, thus fuel efficiency will decrease. However, if
properly timed, the last shot of fuel that has been detached
from the trailing edge of the burning spray can benefit from a
better mixing with fresh air and it will burn at higher temperature, thus promoting to soot oxidation. The consequence is
then a lower soot emission.
A different strategy of injection modulation is the so-called
injection rate shaping, which is usually referred to changing
fuel injection velocity in the same shot, as it is illustrated in
the boot-shape in Figure 7. This boot shape, with a slower
velocity at the beginning of the injection, produces a similar
effect to the pilot injection depicted in Figure 22.
Another way of affecting the pollutant formation is by the
geometry of the injector nozzle. Therefore, small orifices
tend to improve atomization and mixing of fuel with air,
while a large number of nozzles contributes to spreading the
fuel in the combustion chamber and enhancing the fresh air
utilization. Both measures contribute in general to reduce
soot and to increase NOx .

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DOI: 10.1002/9781118991978.hces079


Reciprocating Engines

EGR. A general and widely used measure for the reduction in NOx emissions is the EGR that introduces gases
from the exhaust into the intake line, replacing and mixing
with fresh air, and so reducing the oxygen concentration of
the gas that later mixes with the fuel during the injection
process. There are different effects affecting the NOx formation, but the most important in usual combustion conditions
is the lower oxygen concentration that reduces the flame
temperature. As a counter effect, the less oxygen contributes
to higher soot emissions by reducing the soot oxidation
rate. Moreover, the slower reaction rates are responsible
for a trend to increase fuel consumption, and a proportional
increase in the production of CO2 (Ladommatos et al.,
1996a, b). The EGR strategy is currently always combined
with some degree of cooling of the recirculated gases, as
this measure contributes further to the reduction in the flame
temperature and NOx formation.
Figure 21 shows some results of the clear effect of
increasing EGR in a heavy-duty engine. In this case, introducing an EGR rate of about 20% can reduce NOx emissions
by a factor of 4. In modern engines, EGR rates can range up
to 40% and 50% at low load operation conditions. EGR is a
necessary measure for controlling the alternative combustion
modes based on a premixed charge auto-ignition. More
details on the techniques for producing EGR are given in
Section 8.
Increase in boost pressure. Increasing boost pressure is
a desirable measure that has an already commented potential
for largely increasing engine power if fuel mass is increased
in proportion to the increase in intake air. However, if equivalence ratio is reduced, the general effect is a reduction in soot
formation, owing to the excess in air. The faster combustion
with plenty of available oxygen produces a benefit in fuel
efficiency and so in CO2 reduction. The familiar repercussion
is an increase in NOx emissions.
New combustion modes. The trend in future active solutions focuses mainly in new combustion modes, which have
been introduced in Section 4. These combustion modes
are focused on shifting the combustion curve illustrated
in Figure 11 into areas where NOx and soot formation
does not occur. On the one hand, systems known as PCCI,
which perform the injection process at a lower temperature,
thus increasing the delay period. This controls the combustion evolution below the NOx -forming temperatures. In this
sense, this type of combustion reduces NOx emission but may
produce a tendency to not to oxidize the CO and HC owing
to the decrease of temperatures.


External measures

These techniques are also known as passive solutions, and are

mainly based on some aftertreatment device. Aftertreatment

Technologies: State-of-the-Art and Emerging Technologies

deals in detail with this subject, and only some comments
are made here focusing on the effects on the engine operation
and interrelation with other measures.
Despite being the most important pollutant emission
similar to SI engines, the same type of aftertreatment
devices cannot be used, owing to the excess of air in the
exhaust gases of CI engines (Eastwood, 2000). These conditions limit the use of any concept based on the reduction
reactions (for instance, for eliminating NOx ). On the other
hand, the lower exhaust gas temperature and the common
use of turbocharging yields lower exhaust temperatures
in the point where the aftertreatment system is placed,
compared with the equivalent SI engine.
The most common system used currently in CI engines is
the oxidation catalyst, which is able to abate simultaneously
CO and HC emissions.
The catalytic reduction of NOx is not easy in an ambient
with excess of oxygen. The most commonly used technique
today is the selective catalytic reduction (SCR), which needs
to introduce urea in the exhaust gas flow upstream of the
device for generating ammonia (NH3 ), which will react with
the NO2 to produce N2 and H2 O. An alternative are the
chemical filters, the latter being called NSR (NOx storagereduction) or LNT (lean NOx trap). These are characterized
by their ability to hold NO2 from the exhaust gas during
lean operation conditions, and release it during rich operation
The current technology for reducing soot and PM is the
insertion of a particulate filter (DPF), which simply retains
most of the particles in the exhaust flow. When the filter gets
clogged, some regeneration strategy must be introduced to
burn the particles.
As already commented, current engines are not able to
meet the pollutant limits with only internal measures, and
probably the same will happen in the future, hence some
combination of aftertreatment devices will be required. As
illustrated in Figure 20, there are three ways of meeting lower
pollutant limits:
Accelerating combustion (high injection pressure and
boost pressure, high turbulence, little, or no EGR), which
leads to low soot and high efficiency and reduce the
excessive NOx emissions by aftertreatment.
The second alternative is the opposite: reducing injection
pressure and especially introducing high rates of EGR.
This leads to low NOx emissions but to high soot. Soot
is then reduced by a particulate filter. The aftermath of
these systems is the trend to reduce the efficiency.
The third way of improvement would be based on
some technological breakthrough, such as successfully
implementing some new combustion concept that would

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DOI: 10.1002/9781118991978.hces079

Compression Ignition Engines

lead to simultaneous reduction of NOx and soot ideally
without the need of aftertreatment device. However,
current state of the art allows applying these strategies
only at low load operation points.
In addition, it must be considered that the presence of some
aftertreatment equipment will interact with the engine operation, and with the other systems such as the EGR circuits
and the turbine, described in later sections. Negative effects
on the engine operation are mainly due to the increased
backpressure (that can be somehow mitigated by combining
the design of the silencing devices), and to the requirement
of some more or less frequent ineffective engine operation
modes for the regeneration of the particulate filters or for the
catalyst light-off in cold starting.


Suitable fuels for CI engines

For the development of the conventional combustion

process described in Section 4, involving the fast injection
and mixing of the fuel, it is necessary that the used fuel
accomplishes a broad list of requirements involving thermophysical and chemical properties closely related with
volatility, injectability, and combustibility in this particular
application (Chevron Corporation, 2007). The usual values
of these properties for a commercial gasoil and other fuels,
commented later, are given in Table 1.
One of the first stages of injection is atomization, and
in order to produce a huge amount of droplets, the fuel is
injected through a narrow nozzle with a diameter of around
one hundred of microns. A very important property for this
condition is fuel viscosity, as a high viscosity is a common
cause for a deficient atomization, leading to poor combustion. Moreover, the design of the injection system implies
that some moving parts of diesel fuel pumps and injectors
are protected from wear exclusively by the fuel. Hence, the
fuel must be able to lubricate by itself the moving parts,
and the determinant property is lubricity. The lubrication


mechanism in the injection systems is a combination of

hydrodynamic lubrication and boundary lubrication. These
phenomena are closely related with the fuel viscosity, and
here there is a compromise between adequate atomization,
which requires low viscosity, and proper hydrodynamic
lubrication, which means the opposite. On the other hand,
boundary lubrication occurs when the liquid film is not
continuous and small areas of the opposing surfaces get in
contact. Although lubricity-enhancing substances (mainly
trace amounts of oxygenated, nitrogenated, and aromatic
compounds) are naturally present in diesel fuel derived
from petroleum crude by distillation, the increase of the
requirements of fuel regarding to pollutant emissions has led
to severe distillation processes and to a loss of this property.
Once the fuel is atomized and droplets in vapor phase
mixed with air, the state of combustion is dependent on the
ignition quality of the fuel. In the conventional combustion
process, smoothness of operation, misfire, smoke emissions,
noise, cold start performance, and ease of starting can be
improved using a fuel with good auto-ignition quality. The
cetane number is a measure of how readily the fuel starts
to burn, comparing the fuel to a scale made of two known
chemical substances, in tests carried out in a special engine.
Increasing the cetane number implies a shorter delay in
combustion, which leads to an improvement of the process
and performance on startup, and a reduction of NOx and soot
emissions. Cetane number varies systematically with the HC
structure, and some fuel processing can reduce this parameter, so that a series of fuel additives have been developed to
improve the cetane number.
The energy released in the combustion of a certain
amount of fuel is directly dependent on the chemical energy
contained in the fuel, which is evaluated by the heating
value. As plain CI engine fuels are stored and used in
liquid phase, the density is also an important parameter, as
the injection systems operate on a volumetric basis. Fuel
consumption is related to the heating value of the fuel, while
the size of the relevant devices (pumps and injectors) is
affected by fuel density.
As the usual conventional fuels are distilled from crude
oil, some relevant contents of sulfur present in fossil fuels

Table 1. Properties of several fuels for CI engines.

Specific gravity
Cetane rating
Viscosity at 40 C (mm2 /s)
Sulfur (ppm)
HFRR lubricity (mm)
Lower heating value (MJ/kg)
H/C ratio

Ultra-Low Sulfur Gasoil






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Reciprocating Engines

will be found in the gasoil. Sulfur is a substance contributing

to the lubricity of the fuel, but aside from producing pollutant oxides of sulfur, it can disturb the operating of the
aftertreatment devices in the exhaust. Therefore, the increasingly stringent emissions standards in the world have forced
to reduce the amount of sulfur in the fuel to the level of
several parts per million.
An extensive use of additives has been applied to ensure
the performance of the fuel and to broaden the range of
distillation products that can be used in diesel combustion.
Sometimes applied in parts per million concentrations, these
chemical compounds improve significantly the performance
of the fuel used. Related to the performance of the fuel
injection system, the mainly used additives are cetane
number improvers and lubricity improvers. Cetane number
improvers are based on substances that decompose rapidly at
high temperature in the combustion chamber. Starting from
a conventional ultra low sulfur diesel, it is easily expected a
benefit in cetane number from 40 to 50 with less than 0.5%
addition in mass of such cetane improvers.
In addition, lubricity additives are also used to compensate
the lower lubricity of diesel fuels that have undergone some
severe physical or chemical post-processes. These additives
are attracted to metal surfaces where they form a thin surface
film that acts as a boundary lubricant. Usually, their concentration range varies from 50 to 250 ppm, in order to meet the
specifications. Currently, because of the recent adoption of
this specification in some countries, lubricity improver is the
most widely used additive and some refining companies use
a cetane improver when the additive cost is less than the cost
of processing to increase the cetane number.
These basic requirements for CI engine fuels can vary
depending on the engine type and application, so that
different fuels are used in large and stationary engines
like in electricity generation and marine applications. In
these cases, it is common to use heavier oil crude fractions,
usually known as fuel-oils. These fractions share most of
requirements mentioned earlier, but there is a strong difference in cleanliness, regarding especially to solid residues
and sulfur, as the emission of SO2 originated from sulfur in
the fuel is tightly restricted worldwide.
In the past decades, the use of the so-called biodiesels has
been introduced with the objective of reducing the dependence on the crude oil and the CO2 emissions. Biodiesel
is a fuel comprised long-chain fatty acids derived from a
diverse mix of feedstocks including recycled cooking oil,
soybean oil, and animal fats through a process known as
trans-esterification, which produces the so-called fatty acid
methyl esters (FAME), which are bonded with a glycerol
group that contains oxygen, and have chemical and physical properties similar to those of conventional gasoil (Sarin,
2012). Compared with a usual gasoil, biodiesel fuel has less

heating value, more viscosity, and higher cetane number (see

Table 1). These and other more subtle differences, together
with the limited mass production of this fuel, make difficult the operation of CI engines with pure biodiesel. As
far as technical fuel quality and engine performance specifications, biodiesel can be used in existing diesel engines
without modification and is covered by all major engine
manufacturers warranties, most often in blends of up to 5%
or 20%.
Currently, in almost all developed markets, gasoil is
blended with biodiesel in proportions that range from 5% to
10%, with a trend to increase. However, in some controlled
transportation engines and transportation fleets, biodiesel
has been used in much higher proportions, even in pure state
(Agarwal and Das, 2000).
As far as the effects on combustion and pollutant emissions, in general biodiesel fuels reduce the overall exhaust
emissions in current CI engines, especially soot, CO, and
HC emissions in a broad range of engine operation, but also
promote NOx formation (Lapuerta, Armas, and RodrguezFernandez, 2008). In addition, the exhaust emissions of
sulfur oxides and sulfates (major components of acid rain)
from biodiesel are essentially eliminated compared to
In the pursue of reducing pollutant emissions, other fuels
have been tested and are known to produce some benefits
without important modifications in the engine design, even
though their price and availability have curtailed their extensive applications (Desantes et al., 2000). One of them is the
emulsions of water in gasoil, which are known to reduce the
combustion temperature and mitigate the production of NOx .
Another example is the synthetic fuels with tailored optimum
properties, such as those produce by the Fischer-Tropsch
method, combining CO and hydrogen into liquid fuel. Some
properties of this synthetic fuel are given in Table 1.


Fuels for new combustion modes

As explained in Section 4, premixed, low temperature CI

combustion processes can be an interesting way to achieve
a cleaner and more efficient engine. This combustion mode
is difficult to achieve with the usual fuels used in the conventional CI combustion mode, as they will auto-ignite very
quickly after the start of injection into the cylinder. This
effect of fast auto-ignition can be counteracted by applying
complex and expensive technologies such as high injection
pressures and high swirl (to increase mixing rates) and high
levels of cooled EGR (to delay auto-ignition) with higher
boost pressures (to achieve the required power). Even then,
with conventional diesel fuels, low NOx and low smoke with
partially premixed CI combustion are possible only at low

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DOI: 10.1002/9781118991978.hces079

Compression Ignition Engines

One way to overcome this shortcoming is to use a fuel with
a lower reactivity, which leads to longer auto-ignition times,
and so favor the mixing with air before start of combustion (Kalghatgi, 2014). One convenient way to obtain this
fuel in massive quantities is by mixing two existing fuels
with different reactivity, such as gasoil and gasoline, in
the convenient proportion and injecting it in the cylinder
through the same fuel injection system (Lu, Han, and Huang,
Another even more flexible strategy that allows changing
the fuel reactivity depending on the engine operating conditions is by introducing the more volatile, less reactive fuel
(such as gasoline, ethanol, or natural gas) in the intake
manifold to produce a fully premixed charge, whereas the
higher reactivity fuel (e.g., gasoil) is injected directly in the
cylinder to start the combustion process (Kokjohn et al.,
2011). A variation on this theme is to use some gasolinelike fuel and mix the required amount of some ignition
improver to make the fuel more reactive and inject this
reactive fuel directly into the cylinder (Splitter, Reitz, and
Hanson, 2010).
On the other hand, it has been also demonstrated that
heavy-duty diesel engines can be run injecting gasoline
or ethanol with very high efficiency and very low NOx
and smoke, if appropriate injection timing and strategies
are used. Some of the problems associated with premixed
CI combustion such as HP rise rates caused by high heat
release rates can be alleviated using multiple injections.
Gasoline also might not need the small injector holes and
the high injection pressures required by diesel fuels to
increase mixing rates, and consequently the complexity
and cost of the fuel injection system can be significantly

Heavy-duty and large marine CI engines have used
turbocharging as soon as this technology was available, as the engine size (mainly the huge exhaust and
intake mass flow rates) and the operation conditions
(with long time at full or constant power) were pretty
compatible with the turbocharger design and operation. However, small displacement engines, typically
in automotive or light-duty applications, with opposite
features, such as fast changes in load and speed and
very small intake and exhaust mass flow rates, have not
been successfully boosted until recent decades. The overcoming of those limitations in design and coupling of the
turbocharger has led to the situation where almost every
manufactured CI engine uses turbocharging technology



Advantages and drawbacks of turbocharging

The basic advantages of turbocharging CI engines are the

same as in SI engines: more power and torque with the
same displacement and also more efficiency. The increase
of the intake mass flow rate in CI engines has additional
advantages, coming from the particular fuelair mixture
formation and combustion processes (Baines, 2005).
The increase in the air density and temperature in the
combustion chamber improves the fuel atomization and air
entrainment into the spray, contributing to a better combustion. The larger gas and fuel mass involved in the combustion,
with the same chamber geometry, lead to smaller relative
heat losses, which means an increase in the indicated efficiency. The mechanical efficiency trends to increase, too, as
the increase in indicated power is larger than the increase in
mechanical losses.
Contrary to SI engines, there is no thermodynamic limitation in the boosting pressure and temperature, as autoignition is really the desired effect.
The surplus of air can be used either to increase power, if
the fuel delivery is increased correspondingly, or to reduce
soot formation, if the air fuel ratio is allowed to increase.
However, the increased air temperature in the intake flow
with higher boost pressure levels promotes the formation
of NOx during combustion. This can be counteracted by
cooling the compressed air using a charge cooler after the
compressor: this not only mitigates the NOx formation but
also rises the air density and the volumetric efficiency of
the engine, contributing again to more power or less soot
The turbine in the exhaust system produces some additional pressure loss in the exhaust flow. If this increased
exhaust pressure is larger than the boost pressure, the
pumping losses will be higher. This situation is usual in
small displacement engines operating at high engine speeds,
and its main effects are a reduction of the mechanical efficiency and an increase in the residual gases (what is called
internal EGR, see next section). The second effect tends to
reduce slightly the production of NOx , but to increase soot.
Another important problem in automotive engines is
the difficulty in coupling the turbocharger operation to the
strongly variable operation conditions of the engine, where
important and fast load and speed transients are required to
cope with the mobility needs. The smaller the displacement
and number of cylinders are, the worse will be the problem.
In this case, it is difficult to find a proper turbocharger
design for all the engine operation conditions, and some
controlling devices are required, as it will be explained
later. Nevertheless, this trend of turbocharging small CI
engines has been applied to the extreme strategy known as
downsizing, based on reducing the engine displacement and

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DOI: 10.1002/9781118991978.hces079


Reciprocating Engines

compensating the loss of power by powerful turbocharging

thus reducing the size and weight of the powertrain for a
given power output.
On the other hand, these important limitations are practically nonexistent in large displacement engines, which
operate very often at constant load and speed (like in electricity generation, large vessels, and so on).


Turbocharging systems

Current diesel turbochargers are formed by a radial

compressor and a radial or axial turbine, depending on the
size of the engine: smaller engines such as those found
in passenger car applications use radial turbines, whereas
larger and slower diesel engines such as the ones found in
large ships and power generators can use axial flow turbines.
In order to provide control of the boost pressure level,
wastegates were originally used to divert part of the exhaust
gases from the turbine, incurring in some performance
penalty. As not all the flow that goes through the compressor
has to pass through the turbine, the turbo speed can be
lowered as well as the compressor boost level, but less
exhaust gases energy can be recovered.
Today, an even increasing number of turbochargers use
variable geometry turbines (VGTs), where the effective area
of the turbine is changed in order to control the turbocharger
while ensuring that all the exhaust gases flow through the
turbine. The most extended type of VGT is the one where
the angle of the stator blades is controlled, modifying the
incidence angle at the turbine rotor inlet. Although a VGT
accepts lower inlet temperatures than a fixed geometry
turbine, reducing its power output, its capacity to continuously vary the operating point of the turbine while maintaining high efficiencies makes it the configuration of choice
in the majority of applications. Another advantage of the
VGT configuration versus a fixed geometry turbine is that
the increase in engine response times typical of turbocharged
engines, although still existing, can be decreased. Shorter
engine response times are desired not only for better acceleration and performance but also for reduced pollutant emissions during the transient operation. VGTs can also be used
to control the EGR rate or the exhaust gases temperature of
the downstream aftertreatment systems. In the case of large
engines, where a single turbocharger configuration may be
unfeasible, two or more turbochargers working in parallel are
currently used (Varnier, 2012).


Turbocharging challenges

New developments in CI engine turbocharging must cope

with the following requirements:

Higher boost pressure levels, which will provide means

to further downsize and downspeed future engines and
allow new combustion techniques.
Shorter response times, reducing transient emissions.
Broader range of operation.
Higher overall efficiencies.
Single stage classic turbocharging systems are nowadays
improved to cope with the former topics, but it is expected
that only a gradual evolution will be achieved. In the turbine
side, a better aerodynamic design of the stator vanes has
been and will be seen, reducing head losses, and a generalization of the use of VGTs at even the smaller applications
is expected. Active control turbochargers (ACT), where the
VGT is controlled with a more powerful actuator, may obtain
higher turbine power outputs and exhaust residual energy
recovery by constantly adapting the stator vanes angle to
the exhaust gas pulses. In addition, material improvements
such as special coatings may allow operating the turbine
at higher inlet temperatures, thus raising its efficiency and
power output.
On the compressor side, several methods of rising the
boost pressure and widening their operating range are being
investigated: pre-whirl generators, map width enhancement
systems (MWE), and variable geometry diffusers (VGD) are
examples of promising technologies. Pre-whirl generators
consist of a set of vanes that control the flow incidence angle
at the compressor rotor inlet, approximating it to the ideal
angle, thus rising the boost pressure and reducing the mass
flow rate for surge, but incurring in a total pressure loss at the
compressor inlet and an efficiency penalty. MWE consist of
a bleed channel around the compressor shroud that connects
a zone downstream the inducer throat with the impeller inlet:
part of the flow recirculates through the bleed channel at
very low mass flow rates, improving the surge margin, and
part of the flow is able to bypass the inducer near the choke
line, thus widening the compressor map. Both pre-whirl and
MWE can be implemented in the same compressor system to
get the best benefits while minimizing the pressure drop, so
the optimum compressor can be selected for a given engine
instead of a smaller and less efficient one owing to surge
margin limitations. VGD usually modify the diffuser surface
or change between a vaneless and a vaned configuration:
the vaned diffuser operates at low mass flow rates and low
engine speeds, improving the boost pressure between 5%
and 10% and thus reducing fuel consumption and rising low
end torque while maintaining the behavior at high mass flow
turbochargers with a reversible electrical motor attached to
them. The electrical motor/generator can be used to speed
up the turbocharger during transients, as well as to control

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DOI: 10.1002/9781118991978.hces079

Compression Ignition Engines



I.P stage

HP stage

Charge air

HP turbine

Hp compressor

its rotational speed, reducing the turbo lag and the emissions
during transient operation. During braking, the extra power
generated by the turbine can be stored to be later used during
the speed-up phase.
Another method to get higher boost pressures, improve
transient behavior, and get broader range of operation is
to use two compressor stages in series, the closer one
to the engine smaller (the HP stage) and the other one
bigger (the LP stage), as illustrated in Figure 23. One of
the compressors is turbine driven, while the other may be
part of a turbocharger, be a supercharger or electrically
driven. When the LP stage is a supercharger, this technique is also called mechanical auxiliary supercharging.
For better flexibility of operation, a sequential serial boost
system can be used, in which the stages are regulated.
One common method to achieve the regulation is to bypass
the flow of the HP turbine at high mass flow rates, but
better performance can be achieved using VGTs instead.
The HP compressor may also have a bypass valve, so all
the boosting can be produced by the big, LP stage. A
charge air cooler is needed after the HP compressor in
order to reduce the intake manifold temperature. Two-stage
charging systems allow the engine characteristic curves to
run through the central zone of the turbocharger maps more
easily, where the efficiency is higher, and they also rise
the low end torque and the rated power while reducing
the turbo lag, so the engine can be further downsized.
The use of two stages also gives more EGR flexibility,
allowing adapting better the needed EGR rate. While the
use of a supercharger or an electric booster as the LP stage
may reduce the response time, it has lower fuel consumption and emission reduction potential than turbochargers.
When using two turbochargers, reduced fuel consumption
is expected to be between 5% and 10%, comparing to
a single-stage equivalent engine (Nefischer et al., 2010).
Although great boosting pressures, ranges of operation,
and transient behavior can be achieved with a sequential serial two-stage boosting system, packaging constraints,
cost, and control complexity may limit its application in
small engines.
Turbocompounding, in which part of the exhaust gases
residual energy is recovered with a turbine connected to the
crankshaft, is also expected to get wider adoption and development in the future. If mechanically connected, a variable
transmission can be used in order to maintain the turbine
working closer to its maximum efficiency independently of
the crankshaft speed. The turbine can also drive a reversible
electric generator, powering an electric engine connected to
the crankshaft (Figure 24). In both cases, the turbine can be
part of a turbocharger, which gives the additional benefit of
not only recovering part of the residual energy and feeding it
to the crankshaft but also by giving power to the turbocharger



Figure 23. Two-stage sequential serial turbocharger architecture,

with a bypass for the HP stage and a VGT for the LP stage.

shaft, reducing turbo lag and even improving engine brake

Turbocompounding can give another 5% to 10% of fuel
consumption reduction and can be used also in sequential
serial two-stage boosting systems. Electric turbocompounding has the potential of being more versatile and
efficient than mechanical turbocompounding as the turbine
speed can be set completely independent from the engine
speed with fewer losses and has inherent regenerative brake
capacity, but faces more temperature and high speed-related
problems (Patterson, Tett, and McGuire, 2009). In large
engines, however, lower turbine rotational speeds reduce
the problems associated with these electrical systems. In
EAT, the shaft rotational speed can be easily controlled by
the reversible generator; therefore, in some applications,
the VGT or wastegate can be removed, but the VGT

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This article was published in the Handbook of Clean Energy Systems in 2015 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
DOI: 10.1002/9781118991978.hces079


Reciprocating Engines

Turbo generator



Electric power bus




Figure 24. Electrical turbcompounding in series with a turbocharger. The generators are reversible.

configuration may give better turbine efficiencies. New

improvements in electric systems, such as better battery
technology or supercapacitors, are needed in order to cope
with the high power used to accelerate the turbocharger
during transient operations and to obtain the best benefits of
regenerative braking in automotive applications.


As already explained in Section 5, soot (or particles) and NOx
are usually the most challenging pollutants to control in CI
engines, and one effective way to reduce NOx emission is the
EGR into the combustion chamber. EGR has proven to be a
cost-effective solution to fulfill NOx emissions regulations, in
spite of its trend to increase soot emissions and fuel consumption, in the conventional CI combustion mode. As a result,
since several decades, EGR is a common technique in most
CI engines, both in heavy- and light-duty applications. In
addition, the new combustion concepts exposed in Section 4,
rely generally on a large amount of EGR for controlling the
fuelgas reactivity and extend the auto-ignition delay. Therefore, it is expected that EGR will continue playing a major
role in CI engines.
Since the 1970s, a very high effort has been done by
the manufacturers and research groups in order to improve

EGR systems. Figure 25 presents the typical EGR rates is

used for two particular Euro 4 diesel engines: one for a
passenger car and the other for a heavy-duty application.
In case of passenger cars, EGR is mainly produced at low
load and speed, because these operating conditions fulfill the
regulation zone (EU regulation cycles NEDC). The lower
both load and speed values are, the higher will be EGR rate,
reaching 50% in some operative engine conditions.
In case of heavy-duty engines, the EGR is produced over
the whole of the engine operating field, as the regulations
(ESC, ELR, and ETC tests) force the engine running on all
these conditions. In this case, maximum EGR rates are quite
lower than in passenger cars engines.


EGR circuits

There are basically two different ways of introducing burnt

gases from previous cycles into the combustion chamber:
Internal EGR: Residual gases come from the backflows that exists in the intake and exhaust valves, together
with the combustion gases that remain in the combustion
chamber after the exhaust valve closing. These backflows
are usually naturally produced without any specific design
of the camshafts. In some cases, particular cam designs are
manufactured in order to force back flows across the intake

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DOI: 10.1002/9781118991978.hces079

Compression Ignition Engines

EGR rate (%)


EGR rate (%)

























Figure 25. Typical EGR rate distribution on the operation map of two diesel engines: (a) light-duty engine and (b) heavy-duty engine.

or exhaust valves, thus achieving relative amounts of internal

EGR (Benajes, Reyes, and Lujan, 1996). With these strategies, owing to the short path of these burnt gases into the
cylinder, it is not possible to cool down the internal EGR
gases, being the consequence a lower effect on reducing NOx
emissions, and also some worsening of the volumetric efficiency of the intake process.
External EGR: This is the most used technique in IC
engines for reducing NOx emissions, and it is also the most
effective one. The main drawback is that a specific EGR
circuit is necessary to be designed and installed on the
engine. The EGR circuit connects the exhaust and intake
manifolds and enables the exhaust gases to be reintroduced
on the engine, after being mixed with the fresh charge of air
induced from the ambient. For this EGR circuit to force burnt
gases in the intake manifold, it is mandatory to have higher
pressure in the exhaust than in the intake.
External EGR is normally cooled down to exploit the additional benefits of low gas temperature on the NOx emissions
and also to mitigate the reduction in the fresh air induced,
owing to the substitution by burnt gases. The cooling is
normally achieved using specific gas/liquid or gas/gas heat
In the case of turbocharged engines, two different architectures for external EGR can be used:
HP EGR or short route EGR: The EGR pipe connects
exhaust and intake manifolds from a point placed upstream of
the turbine to another point placed downstream of the turbo
LP or Long route EGR: In this case, the EGR circuit
connects the exhaust manifold from a point downstream
of the turbine to the intake manifold upstream of the

Figure 26 shows a scheme for a turbocharged diesel engine

with the typical external HP EGR and LP EGR configurations.
The HP EGR approach is by far the most commonly
employed EGR architecture in current engines. According
to the system layout, the EGR rate is limited by the pressure
difference between the intake and exhaust manifolds. In addition, as the turbocharger behavior also depends on the intake
and exhaust conditions, a strong coupling between both
systems appears. Other problems attached to the HPEGR
systems are the difficulty to provide a homogeneous intake
charge between cylinders or the important increment in
intake temperature despite employing EGR coolers.
The LP EGR technique is an interesting strategy because
some of the problems of the HP EGR systems can be
reduced by modifying the EGR layout. As the EGR is
picked from downstream the DPF, the recirculated gas has
not solid particles and its temperature is lower than that
obtained at the turbine inlet. In addition, the interferences
between turbocharging and EGR systems is reduced because
the whole exhaust gas flows through the turbine, and then
the increase in EGR rate does not involve a reduction
in the turbine available energy. The EGR rate with the
LPEGR system does not depend on the intake and exhaust
pressures, nevertheless, despite the fact that the compressor
inlet pressure is always lower than the DPF outlet pressure, the pressure difference between those points is usually
not high enough to reach the required EGR levels. In this
sense, LP EGR systems require a backpressure valve at the
DPF outlet (downstream of the EGR extraction) or an intake
throttle at the compressor inlet (upstream of the EGR injection). As the EGR is introduced at the compressor inlet, there
is enough length in the intake line to achieve a perfect air and
EGR mixture before the cylinders.

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DOI: 10.1002/9781118991978.hces079


Reciprocating Engines
Back pressure






Charge air

Figure 26. External EGR architecture: low pressure and high pressure EGR circuits.

Of course, the LP EGR system involves some difficulties.

As the EGR goes through the whole intake line, the use
of some DPFs is strictly necessary in order to prevent the
compressor wheel damage from exhaust particles. Today,
with the widespread application of DPFs, these potential
problems affecting the compressor and charge air cooler
reliability are less common. Another problem of the LP EGR
system is the condensation of corrosive substances contained
in the burnt gas along the intake line, especially at the charge
The results have shown that the LP configuration is superior to the HP system in terms of fuel efficiency, NOx ,
and soot emissions. Nevertheless, the HC emissions are
increased, mainly because of the lower charge temperature that is achieved, especially during the engine warmup periods. In addition, the maximum EGR rate that can
be achieved with LP EGR systems is limited by the small
pressure difference between DPF outlet and compressor
inlet, whereas the HP system can be used to increase the
EGR rate to the required levels without increasing pumping
losses. In this sense, the combination of both EGR layouts
offers significant advantages to reduce emissions and fuel
consumption to meet future emission requirements.


Control of EGR flow

In all the cases, the proper burnt gas mass flow rate to
be recirculated is controlled by means of a valve placed
in the EGR circuit, typically downstream of the cooler. In
modern engines, the amount the EGR mass flow rate is
estimated in operation by measuring the mass flow rate of
the fresh air induced from the atmosphere charge that enters
the engine (which is easy to measure with hot wire devices
and similar equipment), along with intake gas pressure and

temperature measurements. Assuming that the total mass

flow rate induced by the engine is constant for a given
operating condition, fresh charge displacement caused by the
EGR can then be used as a means to calculate indirectly the
produced EGR.
This method allows controlling the EGR amount in a
closed-loop manner for each engine operating condition
by setting the amount of fresh air, determined during
engine calibration. For a given operating condition of
the engine, the ECU regulates the amount of EGR by
actuating on the EGR valve and controlling its position,
mainly as a function of engine speed and fuel supply
(some other parameters as coolant temperature can be
used too).


EGR production in adverse pressure


For any external EGR configuration (HP EGR or LP EGR),

the maximum flow that can be recirculated (with the controlling valve fully open) mainly depends on the pressure difference between the intake and the exhaust lines, and this
pressure difference is usually non steady, owing to pressure
pulsations that may exist in the flows. Consequently, the EGR
flow will be affected by the instantaneous pressure difference
between exhaust and intake, rather than by the average pressure values.
This pressure dynamics is more influent in the cases of
HP EGR, by the exhaust pulses from each cylinder upstream
of the turbine, while the intake pressure pulses are usually
less important. In the case of LP EGR architectures, pressure
pulsations are small even in the exhaust line, downstream
of the turbine, and the driving force is the average pressure

Handbook of Clean Energy Systems, Online 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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DOI: 10.1002/9781118991978.hces079

Compression Ignition Engines




EGR cooler
EGR cooler

Turbina Compressor

Figure 27. Use of an EGR venturi to reduce the mean intake pressure.

In these conditions, the HP EGR configuration has a

quite pulsating performance (EGR flow, presents important
changes during the duty engine cycle). In contrast, when the
LP EGR systems are used, EGR flow is steadier during the
whole engine duty cycle.
In any case, the availability of the proper pressure difference between pipes is limited, and at some engine operating
conditions, it is not possible to achieve the EGR desired
Pressure restrictions are different depending on the type of
EGR, HP, or LP. In HP EGR case, the turbocharger characteristics impose the intake and exhaust pressures. There are
some cases in which the average intake pressure (supplied
by the compressor) is higher than the exhaust pressure
(upstream of the turbine). In these conditions, it is impossible
to produce a gas recirculation effect in the engine without the
aid of auxiliary elements.
In case of LP EGR, the turbocharger does not considerably
affect the EGR production ability, but it does in the pressure
availability of LP ducts. In some cases, this availability is
not enough to produce the desired EGR flows. To solve this
trouble, several techniques are used:
Intake and exhaust throttling. The aim is to increase
the average pressure availability for the EGR production. In
HP EGR systems, it is done using an intake throttle valve,
located between the compressor (or intercooler) outlet and
the HP EGR junction. Its objective is to reduce the pressure
in the intake side. For this EGR architecture, exhaust duct
constriction is not usually applied.
In LP EGR systems, two typologies are considered. On the
one hand, it is possible to locate a throttle valve in the intake
pipe, located between the fresh air inlet (filter outlet) and the

intake junction, upstream of the compressor. The task of this

throttle is to reduce the intake side pressure. On the other
hand, an exhaust constriction can be provoked downstream
of the EGR exhaust junction with the aim of increasing the
pressure in the exhaust side.
Intake pressure modification using singular elements.
Using a venture in the intake side, lowering pressure is a
straightforward and simple strategy. The EGR insertion is
produced in the throat of the venture, and so the burnt gas
recirculation is promoted. Figure 27 presents a six cylinder
turbocharged diesel engine using a venturi at the intake
Rotary or reed valves tuned to exhaust pressure pulses.
They can be used only in HP EGR systems, in which exhaust
pressure oscillations are important, and they are temporarily
higher than the intake pressure. With these devices, it is
possible to generate EGR, even in cases in which average
pressure is lower than in the intake. Figure 28 illustrates
the instantaneous intake and exhaust pressure pulses in a six
cylinder turbocharged diesel engine and some devices able
to profit the exhaust pulsation to produce EGR.


The potential benefits of VVA strategies are well known since

decades, but the implementation of the required systems has
been delayed until recent times, owing to their complexity
and obvious effect on the engine reliability. Moreover, the
basic operation characteristics of SI engines (wider engine
speed range, load control by throttle, expected power output,
and so on) makes more attractive the implementation of a

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DOI: 10.1002/9781118991978.hces079


Reciprocating Engines

Experimental data
12l HD engine
Full load 1600 rpm


Pressure (bar)



It is not possible to pass gas from

the exhaust to the intake



Crank angle ()









L minas
valves or



Figure 28. (a) Instantaneous exhaust and intake pressures. Heavy-duty turbocharged diesel engine. (b) Devices in the EGR circuit to take
advantage of exhaust pressure pulses.

VVA system, whereas in CI engines, less expected benefits and usual more conservative designs have hindered this
application (Kapus et al., 2006). A mechanical limitation
in CI engines is the reduced space between the valve and
the piston at TDC, which hinders the advance in the intake
valve opening, and the retarding of the exhaust valve closing.
On the other hand, the important advances in injection and
turbocharging systems have discouraged the application of
flexible VVA systems.
Nevertheless, the application of a VVA system can still
improve several processes in the conventional CI engine and
also make possible several more modifications to the basic
cycle that could even be combined with new combustion
modes (Sommer et al., 2006). A view of the different possible
applications of a VVA system in CI engines is shown in
Figure 29.
In general, these strategies can be designed to optimize
the process of the air loop management (including the
behavior of the turbocharger) and the combustion processes
and pollutant formation. In some cases, the goal is to
improve engine performance under particular operating

conditions such as cold starting or benefits of certain

auxiliary equipment coupled to the heat engine such as the
after treatment systems. Many of the purposes and benefits
of VVA systems are similar in CI and SI engines, and those
strategies that are almost exclusive of CI engines will be
commented later.


Internal exhaust gas recirculation (IEGR)

As commented in Section 8, IEGR can be enhanced using

proper valve lift modifications, such as extended opening
periods or adding extra lift periods (Benajes, Reyes, and
Lujan, 1996). With an appropriated management of these
additional valve lifts, the amount of IEGR can be adapted
to the engine operation conditions and requirements.


Swirl modification

The generation of movement in the gas contained within the

cylinder (swirl) when it is introduced through the valves by
means of a suitable design of the intake manifolds (when

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DOI: 10.1002/9781118991978.hces079

Compression Ignition Engines

Integration of the variable valve actuation in the

compression ignition engines

Internal exhaust gas

recirculation (IEGR)
Strategies with
direct effect on the
process of
combustion in
diesel engines

Pre-lift of the intake valves

Post-lift of the exhaust
Swirl modification

Atkinson / Miller cycles

Other strategies
with application in
diesel engines

Valve overlap control

Volumetric efficiency

Independent control of the

intake valves

Advance / retard of the

intake valves closing

Optimization of the timing

diagram for each engine

Optimization of the valves

lifting profile

Improvement of the
behavior during the cold

Control of the opening and

closing of the intake valves

Valve overlap control

Energy management of
the group turbinecompressor

Opening control of the

exhaust valves

Cylinder deactivation at
partial loads

Opening control of the

intake and exhaust valves

Brake engine by

Opening control of the

exhaust valves
Operation like two strokes

Control of the exhaust

temperature to optimize
after treatment systems

Figure 29. VVA strategies and objectives in CI engines.

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DOI: 10.1002/9781118991978.hces079

Opening control of the

exhaust valves



Reciprocating Engines

there are two intake valves), it is a strategy with application

in CI engines. This optimal level of swirl is not unique
because it depends largely on the boundary conditions such
as the load degree, the engine speed, the geometry of the
combustion chamber, and the injection conditions.
A variable swirl configuration can be achieved by one
intake valve producing a high swirl level and the other
valve almost no swirl. By opening one valve (usually the
high swirl valve at low engine speed) or both valves, in a
gradual way, a combination of different swirl levels can be



Atkinson and Miller cycles

The Atkinson cycle was developed by James Atkinson in the

1880s and patented in 1887 (Atkinson, 1887). The goal at
that time was to increase the thermal efficiency of the SI
engines operating according to an Otto cycle. In a conventional four-stroke engine, the gas pressure in the cylinder
at the instant that the exhaust valves open is always higher
than the pressure in the exhaust system, so that at least part
of the energy available in the gas dissipates during exhaust.
It would be possible to increase the cycle work if additional
expansion is made until the gas pressure inside the cylinder
is equal to the pressure in the exhaust system, and opening
at that time the exhaust valves. This requires an expansion
stroke that is longer than the intake and compression strokes
(Figure 30).
A modified Atkinson cycle can be easily implemented
through a flexible VVA system without changing the
standard configuration of the piston, connecting rod, and
crankshaft. In this case, the expansion ratio is constant and
the effective compression ratio of the engine is adjusted
either advancing or delaying the closing of the intake valves
(Figure 31).
By producing such a modified Atkinson cycle in a
CI engine, only the gas mass trapped in the cylinder is
reduced while the fuel injection quantity can be kept
constant within reasonable limits of the air/fuel ratio. Thus,
if the mass of fuel injected per cycle remains constant,
the differences in terms of specific power between the
original Diesel cycle and Atkinson cycle will depend
mainly on the changes in the processes of compression and
expansion, in the combustion process and in the pumping
loop that involves the behavior of the turbine-compressor
The main searched effect of this modification to the basic
engine cycle is reducing the in-cylinder temperature at the
end of the compression stroke, and so the formation of
NOx is mitigated during combustion (Benajes et al., 2009).
Figure 32 illustrates this effect. However, the induced air




Figure 30. Pressurevolume diagram in a four-stroke engine with

an extended expansion stroke (Atkinson cycle).

mass is also reduced, owing to either a shorter intake stroke

of the backflows during the compression stroke with opened
valves, and this can be a problem when the engine has to
produce high power.
The option to recover the loss of fresh air mass is to
increase the intake pressure by means of adding a supercharger or controlling the turbocharger. This strategy is
similar to the original Miller cycle, and it produces additional benefits in terms of increase of power or pollutant
reductions (Miller and Lieberherr, 1957). In fact, if the
IAT after the compressor and the intercooler can be kept
constant and if the boost level in the Miller cycle is increased
so to reach the same in-cylinder pressure at the beginning
of the compression stroke as in the original cycle, equal
end-of-compression pressure levels will be attained in both
cases, but with lower temperatures in the Miller cycle, as
well as with an increased trapped mass of air. This condition allows, at constant air/fuel ratio, an increase of the
injected fuel quantity and, therefore, of the engine power
output (or, at constant fuel and power output, lower emissions). In large marine engines, the Miller cycle is usually
combined with an advancement of the intake valve closing
to benefit of charge cooling owing to in cylinder expansion, and to additionally produce some increase in the air
trapped, thanks to the higher boost that can be used at same
peak firing pressure level (Millo, Gianoglio, and Delneri,

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DOI: 10.1002/9781118991978.hces079

Compression Ignition Engines





Late IVC


Early IVC


VD, Atk



VD, Atk


Figure 31. Shortening of the compression stroke (red dotted line) in a four-stroke engine by advancing (a) and retarding (b) the intake
valve closing.

It is also possible to delay the opening of the intake

valves and generate additional pumping work, which finally
results in an increase in the temperature at the end of the
compression stroke.


NOx formation ratio






Figure 32. Effect of advancing (EIVC) and retarding (LIVC) the

intake valve closing on NOx emissions.


Energy management of the turbocharger

Improvement of the behavior during cold


In order to reach normal operating temperatures in a CI

engine during the cold starting phase, several strategies
can be implemented, using a variable valve activation
One way is by increasing IEGR to raise the temperature
inside the cylinder. In this case, higher temperatures are
achieved by advancing the closing of the intake valves until
achieving negative valve overlap conditions, that is, closing
of the exhaust valve before opening the intake valve.
Another strategy is to advance the closing of the intake
valves near to bottom dead centre (BDC), thus achieving an
increase in the volumetric compression ratio of the engine
that raises the temperature and pressure reached at top dead
centre (TDC).

In a turbocharged diesel engine, the proper coupling and

transfer of energy from the exhaust to the turbine can be
optimized with the regulation of the opening angle of the
exhaust valves. Advancing the opening of the exhaust valves
will in general improve the turbocharger acceleration during
an increase of load or engine speed, favoring the engine
response and reducing pollutant emissions. However, if this
measure is not corrected, toward the end of the transient
process, a lower power condition can be produced (Benajes,
Lujan, and Serrano, 2000).


Engine braking

In the case of heavy-duty diesel vehicles, it is possible

and functional to use the engine as an auxiliary brake to
increase their braking capability and to reduce the wear
of the conventional friction brakes. One strategy by which
high power engine braking is achieved is by increasing
piston pumping work, by decompressing the gases previously compressed nearly at the top dead center. A VVA
system can be used for this purpose, by partially reopening
the exhaust valves at the end of the compression stroke. In
this way, the piston compression work is dissipated through
the exhaust flow pressure drop, and it can contribute to
increase up to 50% the vehicle braking power. One problem
with this measure is the increase in the engine thermal

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DOI: 10.1002/9781118991978.hces079


Reciprocating Engines

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Handbook of Clean Energy Systems, Online 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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DOI: 10.1002/9781118991978.hces079

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Handbook of Clean Energy Systems, Online 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
This article is 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
This article was published in the Handbook of Clean Energy Systems in 2015 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
DOI: 10.1002/9781118991978.hces079