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Hydrogen SI and HCCI Combustion in a Direct-Injection Optical Engine

Journal Article
ISSN: 1946-3936, e-ISSN: 1946-3944
Published June 15, 2009 by SAE International in United States
Hydrogen SI and HCCI Combustion in a Direct-Injection Optical Engine
Citation: Rosati, M. and Aleiferis, P., "Hydrogen SI and HCCI Combustion in a Direct-Injection Optical Engine," SAE Int. J. Engines 2(1):1710-1736, 2009,
Language: English


Hydrogen has been largely proposed as a possible alternative fuel for internal combustion engines. Its wide flammability range allows higher engine efficiency with leaner operation than conventional fuels, for both reduced toxic emissions and no CO2 gases. Independently, Homogenous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI) also allows higher thermal efficiency and lower fuel consumption with reduced NOX emissions when compared to Spark-Ignition (SI) engine operation. For HCCI combustion, a mixture of air and fuel is supplied to the cylinder and autoignition occurs from compression; engine is operated throttle-less and load is controlled by the quality of the mixture, avoiding the large fluid-dynamic losses in the intake manifold of SI engines. HCCI can be induced and controlled by varying the mixture temperature, either by Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) or intake air pre-heating. A combination of HCCI combustion with hydrogen fuelling has great potential for virtually zero CO2 and NOX emissions. Nevertheless, combustion on such a fast burning fuel with wide flammability limits and high octane number implies many disadvantages, such as control of backfiring and speed of autoignition and there is almost no literature on the subject, particularly in optical engines. Experiments were conducted in a single-cylinder research engine equipped with both Port Fuel Injection (PFI) and Direct Injection (DI) systems running at 1000 RPM. Optical access to in-cylinder phenomena was enabled through an extended piston and optical crown. Combustion images were acquired by a high-speed camera at 1° or 2° crank angle resolution for a series of engine cycles. Spark-ignition tests were initially carried out to benchmark the operation of the engine with hydrogen against gasoline. DI of hydrogen after intake valve closure was found to be preferable in order to overcome problems related to backfiring and air displacement from hydrogen’s low density. HCCI combustion of hydrogen was initially enabled by means of a pilot port injection of n-heptane preceding the main direct injection of hydrogen, along with intake air preheating. Sole hydrogen fuelling HCCI was finally achieved and made sustainable, even at the low compression ratio of the optical engine by means of closed-valve DI, in synergy with air-pre-heating and negative valve overlap to promote internal EGR. Various operating conditions were analysed, such as fuelling in the range of air excess ratio 1.2–3.0 and intake air temperatures of 200–400 °C. Finally, both single and double injections per cycle were compared to identify their effects on combustion development.