HCCI combustion is highly dependent on in-cylinder thermal conditions favorable to auto-ignition, for a given fuel. Fuels available at the pump can differ considerably in composition and auto-ignition chemistry, hence strategies intended to bring HCCI to market must account for the fuel variability.

To this end, a test matrix consisting of eight gasoline fuels composed of blends made solely from refinery streams was investigated in an experimental, single cylinder HCCI engine. The base compositions were largely representative of gasoline one would expect to find across the United States, although some of the fuels had slightly lower average octane values than the ASTM minimum specification of 87. All fuels had 10% ethanol by volume included in the blend. The properties of the fuels were varied according to research octane number (RON), sensitivity (S=RON−MON) and the volumetric fractions of aromatics and olefins.

For each fuel, a sweep of the fuelling was carried out at each speed from the level of instability to excessive ringing to determine the limits of HCCI operation. This was repeated for a range of speeds to determine the overall operability zone. The fuels were kept at a constant intake air temperature during these tests.

The variation of fuel properties brought about changes in the overall operating range of each fuel, as some fuels had more favorable low load limits, whereas others enabled more benefit at the high load limit. The extent to which the combustion event changed from the low load limit to the high load limit was examined as well, to provide a relative criterion indicating the sensitivity of HCCI range to particular fuel properties.

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