High-speed photography, two-color method, and thermodynamic analysis have been used to improve understanding of the influence of pilot injection timing on diesel combustion in an optical engine equipped with an electronically-controlled, common rail, high-pressure fuel injection system. The tests were performed at four different pilot injection timings (30 degree, 25 degree, 20 degree, and 15 degree CA BTDC) with the same main injection timing (5 degree CA BTDC), and under 100MPa injection pressure. The engine speed was selected at 1200 rev/min, and the whole injection mass was fixed as 27.4 mg/stroke. The experimental results showed that the pilot injection timing had a strong influence on ignition delay and combustion duration: advancing the pilot injection timing turned to prolong the ignition delay and shorten the combustion duration. The combustion images indicated that when pilot injection was advanced, the area of luminous flames decreased. The results of two-color method suggested pilot injection timing significantly impacted both the soot temperature distribution and soot concentration (KL factor) within the combustion chamber. 30 degree CA BTDC was the optimal pilot injection timing for in-cylinder soot reduction.

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