Particulate matter spikes occurring during transient engine operation have important health implications. This paper investigates the root cause of particulate matter spikes in modern electronically controlled diesel engines that impose strict fuel-Oxygen ratio limits during the turbocharger lag period. It is proposed that these spikes can be significantly reduced by improved estimation of transient charge flow through the engine. Through transient data analysis and with the aid of transient data based empirical models, it has been shown that the fuel-Oxygen ratio restrictions imposed by contemporary engine controllers are ineffective during transients because of temporary but large differences between exhaust and intake manifold pressures during aggressive transients resulting in inaccurate volumetric efficiency and charge flow estimation. Steady state experiments with artificially generated high engine manifold pressure differentials have been conducted to support this hypothesis. The engine manifold pressure differential hypothesis is a consequence of previous investigations to explain the baffling inability of empirical data based models to predict the magnitudes of transient particulate matter spikes. Accurate volumetric efficiency estimation during transients can make the fuel-Oxygen ratio limits more effective at reducing opacity spikes. It would also make model based transient calibration more useful by increasing the accuracy of particulate matter models and by directing any dynamic optimization process to mould calibratable surfaces to minimize engine manifold pressure differential spikes. Fuel efficiency benefits due to lower pumping losses during transients and lower regeneration penalties would also result.

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