Low Temperature Combustion (LTC) strategies such as Reactivity Controlled Compression Ignition (RCCI) can result in significant improvements of fuel economy and emissions reduction. However, they can produce significant carbon monoxide and unburnt hydrocarbon emissions at low load operating conditions due to poor combustion efficiencies at these operating points, which is a consequence of the low combustion temperatures that cause the oxidation rates of these species to slow down. The exhaust gas temperature is also not high enough at low loads for effective performance of turbocharger systems and diesel oxidation catalysts (DOC). The DOC is extremely sensitive to exhaust gas temperature changes and lights off only when a certain temperature is reached, depending on the catalyst specifications. Uncooled EGR can increase combustion temperatures, thereby improving combustion efficiency, but high EGR concentrations of 50% or more are required, thereby increasing pumping work and reducing volumetric efficiency. However, with early exhaust valve opening, the exhaust gas temperature can be much higher, allowing lower EGR flow rates, and enabling activation of the DOC for more effective oxidization of unburnt hydrocarbons and CO in the exhaust.

In this paper, a multi-cylinder engine system simulation of RCCI at low load operation with early exhaust valve opening is presented, along with consideration of the exhaust aftertreatment system. The combustion process is modeled using the 3D CFD code, KIVA, and the heat release rates obtained from this combustion are used in a GT-Power model of a turbocharged, multi-cylinder light-duty RCCI engine for a full system simulation. The post-turbine exhaust gas is fed into GT-Power’s aftertreatment model of the engine’s DOC to determine the catalyst response. It is confirmed that opening the exhaust valve earlier increases the exhaust gas temperature, and hence lower EGR flow rates are needed to improve combustion efficiency. It was also found that exhaust temperatures of around 457 K are required to light off the catalyst and oxidize the unburnt hydrocarbons and CO effectively. Performance of the DOC was drastically improved and higher amounts of unburnt hydrocarbons were oxidized by increasing the exhaust gas temperature.

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