A new criterion for the determination of the start of combustion (SOC) from the diesel engine in-cylinder pressure diagram was developed. It is defined as the maximum of the third order derivative of the cylinder pressure with respect the crank angle. This criterion declares SOC more precisely than other previously published criterions based on pressure diagnostics. This fact was proven analytically and was discernable from the analysis of the experimental data. Beside its accuracy it is also robust enough to allow automatic evaluation of the SOC during processing of the pressure data for a large number of cycles. Analysis of the first law of thermodynamics applied to the engine cylinder showed that the third order derivative of the cylinder pressure with respect to the crank angle is the most suitable criterion for determination of the SOC from the cylinder pressure diagram. Subsequently the criterion was validated through experimental data analysis of the cylinder pressure diagrams for various engine speeds and loads. Cylinder pressure diagrams were processed with a computer code based on the first law of thermodynamics to evaluate the rate of heat release (ROHR), which formed the base for experimental validation. The cylinder pressure was measured with an advanced piezoelectric sensor at the resolution 0.1 deg. CA. Top dead center was determined with the capacitive top dead center sensor. Due to the analytic foundation of the developed method and its validation through highly accurate experimental data it can be concluded that new criterion is credible for the determination of the SOC.

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