The simplest way to describe the combustion process into the cylinder of an internal combustion engine and the associated heat release is to estimate at each crankshaft angular position the mass fraction of fuel burned using a proper function. There is a number of functions recorded in the literature that have been used for this purpose, the most relevant being likely the so-called Wiebe function. These functions have been developed both for spark ignition and diesel engines. The development of modern Common Rail injection systems makes the application of this kind of methodology particularly challenging. The trend seems to indicate, in fact, that in the near future Diesel engine injection systems will perform up to five injections per engine cycle. Therefore the way energy is released into the cylinder could become very complex to be described and the simple approaches developed up to now could be not sufficient anymore. This paper deals with the development of a single zone combustion model able to correctly describe the heat release rate for a common rail multi-jet diesel engine employing up to 4 injections per engine cycle. The model has been developed step-by-step from the simplest case of a single injection to the more complex one with 4 injections. It has been identified and validated using experimental data obtained employing from 1 to 4 different injections. Premixed and diffusive combustions have been taken into account, both modelled as “Wiebe functions”. Particular identification problems (such as modelling error with multiple injection or identification robustness procedure) are approached on the basis of real data. The main result is that increasing the number of injections actuated (and then the combustion phases) predictive properties of the model are still acceptable, and identification procedure is robust if initial values of unknown parameters are properly set. The obtained results allowed observing for example the way the combustion delays (i.e the time delays between each Start of Injection and the corresponding Start of Combustion) are modified as the number of injections increases, as well as other important combustion characteristics.

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