This paper describes an experimental study concerning the feasibility of monitoring the combustion instability levels of an HCCI engine based upon cycle-by-cycle exhaust temperature measurements. The test engine was a single cylinder, four-stroke, variable compression ratio Cooperative Fuel Research (CFR) engine coupled to an eddy current dynamometer. A rugged exhaust temperature sensor equipped with special signal processing circuitry was installed near the engine exhaust port. Reference measurements were provided by a laboratory grade, water-cooled cylinder pressure transducer. The cylinder pressure measurements were used to calculate the Coefficient of Variation of Indicated Mean Effective Pressure (COV of IMEP) for each operating condition tested.

Experiments with the HCCI engine confirmed that cycle-by-cycle variations in exhaust temperature were present, and were of sufficient magnitude to be captured for processing as high fidelity signal waveforms. There was a good correlation between the variability of the exhaust temperature signal and the COV of IMEP throughout the operating range that was evaluated. The correlation was particularly strong at the low levels of COV of IMEP (2–3%), where production engines would typically operate.

A real-time combustion instability signal was obtained from cycle-by-cycle exhaust temperature measurements, and used to provide feedback to the fuel injection control system. Closed loop operation of the HCCI engine was achieved in which the engine was operated as lean as possible while maintaining the COV level at or near 2.5%.

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