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Capturing the Impact of Fuel Octane Number on Modern Gasoline Vehicles with Octane Indices

Journal Article
ISSN: 1946-3952, e-ISSN: 1946-3960
Published May 09, 2019 by SAE International in United States
Capturing the Impact of Fuel Octane Number on Modern Gasoline Vehicles with Octane Indices
Citation: Jehlik, F., Lohse-Busch, H., Iliev, S., and Hall, C., "Capturing the Impact of Fuel Octane Number on Modern Gasoline Vehicles with Octane Indices," SAE Int. J. Fuels Lubr. 12(2):63-86, 2019,
Language: English


The need for high efficiency automotive engines has led to more complex air handling and fuel injection systems, higher compression ratios, more advanced combustion and aftertreatment systems, and the use of fuels with higher octane ratings. Higher octane number fuels have a lower propensity to knock. This work studies the influence of changing fuel octane rating on two modern production gasoline vehicles, one with a naturally aspirated, port injected engine and the other with a turbocharged, direct injected engine, using fuels with four different octane number grades (with 85, 87, 91, and 93 anti-knock indices) and operated over a variety of driving cycles and temperature conditions. Unlike previous studies, this effort develops and demonstrates a methodology that isolates fuel effects on fuel consumption and provides a clear view of the octane impact on existing vehicles. While fuel octane rating can also impact factors such as the allowable compression ratio and gear shifting strategies, this study examines fuel consumption changes that are solely attributable to octane rating on production vehicles. The developed approach uses results from drive cycle as well as steady-state tests along with response surface modeling to predict the engine combustion phasing and changes in efficiency for each fuel relative to the baseline 87 anti-knock index (AKI) fuel. The methodology is then used to capture the role of fuel octane rating on powertrain efficiency over Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certification drive cycles and demonstrate the variation of that impact as a function of powertrain output power. Based on the vehicles and fuels tested in this study, the metrics indicate that the effects of octane on efficiency are limited to a portion of the operating modes represented in the driving cycles used for vehicle certification. In addition, an octane potential benefit index (OPBI) suggests that the vehicle with the turbocharged, direct injected engine has a greater potential to benefit from higher octane number fuel compared to the naturally aspirated, port injected engine and proposes a way to quantify this impact for production vehicles.