Spark Assisted Compression Ignition (SACI) is a combustion mode that may offer significant efficiency improvements compared to conventional spark-ignited combustion systems. Unfortunately, SACI is constrained to a relatively narrow range of dilution levels and top dead center temperatures. Both positive valve overlap (PVO) and negative valve overlap (NVO) strategies may be utilized to attain these conditions at low and intermediate engine loads.

The current work compares 1D thermodynamic simulations of PVO valving strategies and a baseline NVO strategy in a downsized boosted automotive engine with variable valve timing capability. As future downsized boosted engines may employ multiple combustion modes, the goal of this work is the definition of valving strategies appropriate for SACI combustion at low to moderate loads and SI combustion at moderate to high loads for an engine with fixed camshaft profiles. PVO durations, valve opening timings and peak lifts are investigated at low to moderate loads and are compared to a baseline NVO configuration in order to assess valving strategies appropriate for multi-mode combustion operation. A valvetrain kinematic model is used to translate the desired valve lift profiles into camshaft profiles, while a kinematic analysis is used to calculate piston to valve clearances and to define the practical limits of the PVO strategies. The NVO and PVO strategies are also compared to throttled SI operation at part load to assess the overall efficiency benefit of operating under the thermodynamic conditions of the SACI combustion regime.

While the results of this study are engine specific, there are several camshaft profiles that are appropriate for the use of PVO rebreathing type valve events. For the range of PVO valve events examined and taking into consideration piston to valve interference, the use of high exhaust and low intake lifts with early exhaust valve opening timing and long PVO durations enables high levels of internal EGR with relatively low pumping losses.

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