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Low Temperature Combustion

[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

Mazda unveiling KAI Concept with SKYACTIV-X SPCCI engine; more details on the technology

October 25, 2017

At the Tokyo Motor Show, Mazda is introducing the KAI CONCEPT compact hatchback (earlier post), powered by the next-generation SKYACTIV-X spark-controlled compression-ignition (SPCCI) gasoline engine (earlier post), SKYACTIV-Vehicle Architecture and a more mature expression of the KODO design language. The company is using the opportunity of the event to provide more details into the SPCCI engine, announced in August. (Earlier post.)

Featuring Mazda’s own Spark-Controlled Compression Ignition combustion method, the SKYACTIV-X engine represents the next step in Mazda’s quest to develop a gasoline engine with the ideal internal combustion mechanism. (Earlier post.)

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Sandia researchers use Direct Numerical Simulations to enhance combustion efficiency and reduce pollution in diesel engines; cool flames

October 13, 2017

Sandia National Laboratories mechanical engineer Jackie Chen and colleagues Alex Krisman and Giulio Borghesi recently identified novel behavior of a key, temperature-dependent feature of the ignition process called a cool flame in the fuel dimethyl ether. The researchers used a two-dimensional direct numerical simulation (DNS) to provide a fully resolved description of ignition at diesel engine-relevant conditions. The focus of the study is on the behavior of the low-temperature chemistry (LTC) and the way in which it influences the high-temperature ignition.

The cool flame burns at less than 1,150 Kelvin (1,610 ˚F)—about half the typical flame burning temperature of 2,200 K. While cool flames were first observed in the early 1800s, their properties and usefulness for diesel engine design have only recently been investigated.

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U. Houston-led project looking for new exhaust treatment catalysts for low-temperature lean-burn combustion engines

September 21, 2017

A chemical engineer from the University of Houston is leading a $2.1-million project to find new catalytic materials that work at lower exhaust temperatures, allowing automakers to build vehicles that operate more efficiently while retaining the ability to clean emissions before they leave the tailpipe.

Michael Harold, chairman of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at UH, will serve as principal investigator on the grant, funded by the US Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory (DOE NETL). The project also includes researchers from the University of Virginia (UVA); Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL); and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI). Engineers from Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles Inc. and Johnson Matthey Inc. also will be involved in the project.

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Mazda SPCCI uses spark plug as HCCI control factor; “air piston” to enhance compression

September 08, 2017

Gasoline HCCI (homogenous charge compression ignition) has been of interest to automakers for years, as the low-temperature combustion mode offers significant improvements in thermal efficiency and fuel consumption along with a reduction in NOx emissions compared to conventional spark ignition gasoline engines. However, traditional HCCI combustion has been realized only in a limited operating range. (E.g., Earlier post, earlier post, earlier post.)

With the announcement of its SKYACTIV-X engine (earlier post), Mazda claims to have developed a novel control system for HCCI combustion that extends the HCCI range out to a much larger percentage of the load map. The essence of Mazda’s Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI) is the use of the spherical spherical flame front expanded by spark ignition as a second piston (an “air piston”) to further compresses the air-fuel mixture, resulting in improved compression ignition.

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Mazda announces SKYACTIV-X: gasoline Spark Controlled Compression Ignition

August 08, 2017

Mazda Motor Corporation announced “Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030,” a new long-term vision for technology development that looks ahead to the year 2030. As part of the new technology to achieve this vision, the company disclosed plans to introduce a next-generation gasoline engine called SKYACTIV-X in 2019.

SKYACTIV-X—which Mazda believes will be the first commercial gasoline engine to use compression ignition—uses a proprietary combustion method called Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI). Mazda says that SCCI overcomes two issues that has impeded commercialization of compression ignition gasoline engines: maximizing the zone in which compression ignition is possible and achieving a seamless transition between compression ignition and spark ignition.

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DOE Co-Optima initiative publishes report reviewing first 12 months; progress on fuels and engines

January 16, 2017

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Co-Optima initiative—a broad, joint effort to co-optimize the development of efficient engines and low greenhouse-gas fuels for on-road vehicles with the goal of reducing petroleum consumption by 30% by 2030 beyond what is already targeted (earlier post)—has published a year-in-review report for FY 2016—the initiative’s first 12 months.

Co-Optima’s premise is that current fuels constrain engine design—and thus engine efficiency. The researchers suggest that there are engine architectures that can provide higher thermodynamic efficiencies than available from modern internal combustion engines; however, new fuels are required to maximize efficiency and operability across a wide speed/load range. The report details the technical progress in a selection of projects across the initiative’s two main thrusts: spark ignition (SI) and advanced compression ignition (ACI).

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DOE awarding up to $7M to 8 universities for co-optimization of fuels and engines: Co-Optima

December 29, 2016

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award up to $7 million to projects at eight universities to accelerate the introduction of affordable, scalable, and sustainable high-performance fuels for use in high-efficiency, low-emission engines.

Under the Co-Optimization of Fuels and Engines (Co-Optima) initiative (earlier post), DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office and Vehicle Technologies Office are collaborating to maximize energy savings and on-road vehicle performance, while significantly reducing transportation-related petroleum consumption and harmful emissions. The goal is to reduce petroleum consumption by 30% by 2030 beyond what is already targeted.

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DOE to award almost $20M to new research and development projects for advanced vehicle technologies

December 15, 2016

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is issuing a program-wide funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0001629) for the Vehicle Technologies Office of up to $19.7 million, subject to appropriations, to support research and development of advanced vehicle technologies, including batteries, lightweight materials, and advanced combustion engines, as well as innovative technologies for energy efficient mobility.

The funding opportunity seeks projects in four areas of interest that apply to light, medium, and heavy-duty on-road vehicles, energy efficient mobility, and transportation infrastructure systems Battery500 Seedling Projects; Integrated Computational Materials Engineering Predictive Tools for Low-Cost Carbon Fiber; Emission Control Strategies for Advanced Combustion Engines; and Energy Efficient Mobility Research and Development.

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New ORNL hardware-in-the-loop capability to integrate advanced combustion, new fuels, and electrification pathways

December 02, 2016

A multi-disciplinary team of researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has developed a new testing capability which integrates a driver model, full vehicle model, and hardware to explore the synergies of advanced combustion, new fuels, and emerging hybrid vehicle architectures over real-world drive cycles. This new facility is focused on low temperature combustion engines but builds upon the powertrain-in-the-loop expertise established with the Vehicle Systems Integration Laboratory (VSI) at ORNL.

The transient advanced combustion laboratory is initially supporting research on the potential of low temperature combustion modes with new fuel and vehicle technologies. The hardware-in-the-loop setup includes a transient dynamometer cell (AVL 300 kW AC) with a low-temperature combustion (LTC) multi-cylinder engine instrumented for combustion and emissions analysis. The light-duty diesel engine used in these experiments (earlier post) was modified for dual-fuel use for port fuel injection of low-reactivity fuel (i.e. gasoline, ethanol etc.) and a high-reactivity fuel (i.e. diesel, biodiesel etc.).

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Update on DOE Co-Optima project to co-optimize fuels & engines; goal of 30% per vehicle reduction in petroleum

November 28, 2016

In October 2015, the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) launched a broad, joint effort to co-optimize the development of efficient engines and low greenhouse-gas fuels for on-road vehicles with the goal of reducing petroleum consumption by 30% by 2030 beyond what is already targeted. (Earlier post.) The intended application is light-, medium-, and heavy-duty markets including hybrid architectures.

The Co-Optima project team, which is leveraging the technical contributions of nine of DOE’s 17 national laboratories, has grown to more than 130 researchers, according to Robert Wagner, Director of the Fuels, Engines, and Emissions Research Center at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and a member of the Co-Optima leadership team, in a briefing at the lab earlier this month. In August 2016, DOE announced funding of up to $7 million further to support the initiative.

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Argonne study on optimizing gasoline compression ignition at idle and low loads

November 09, 2016

Gasoline compression ignition—i.e., igniting gasoline purely by compression, as with a diesel, rather by using a spark—is a promising, high-efficiency, low-temperature combustion mode that offers low engine-out NOx and soot. (Earlier post.) GCI, however, is challenged by stable idle- to low-load operation (i.e., 0-2 bar BMEP) because it is challenging to ignite the low-reactivity gasoline purely through compression.

One way to address that challenge is through optimizing the injection system and injection strategy to ensure that the air-fuel mixture maintains a high level of reactivity. A team from Argonne National Laboratory now reports in a paper published in the International Journal of Engine Research on the effects of injector nozzle inclusion angle, injection pressure, boost, and swirl ratio on gasoline compression ignition combustion.

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SAE REX: PHEVs and REEVs could open door for advanced combustion regime engines

November 07, 2016

Increased market penetration of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and range-extended electric vehicles (REEVs) across vehicle segments could present an opportunity for emerging advanced combustion regime engines, such as those using various low-temperature combustion modes, according to a number of presentations at the SAE 2016 Range Extenders for Electric Vehicles Symposium held last week in Knoxville.

The REEV or PHEV also may present opportunities for more novel power sources such as turbines (Wrightspeed), fuel cell stacks (Nissan) or aluminum-air batteries (Phinergy and Arconic), speakers suggested. The REX symposium was sponsored by Mahle; the organizers were from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Mahle.

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