The control of the combustion process is becoming a necessity for diesel engines in order to meet the upcoming stringent emission regulations. Ion current sensing technology has the potential to provide real-time feedback of the combustion process while using a fairly inexpensive sensor. 3D computational fluid dynamics (CFD) cycle simulation is becoming more complementary in understanding the complex combustion process in diesel engines. In this paper, a CFD study is focused on investigating the characteristics of the ion current signal produced during the combustion process of a Gen-set turbocharged diesel engine. Multiple virtual ion sensing probes are defined in different locations inside the combustion chamber to understand the influence of sensor location on signal characteristics. The n-heptane reaction mechanism and NO mechanism, combined with an ionization mechanism developed at WSU with 11 species, are used in the model to predict the chemical kinetics of combustion and the mole fraction of ionized species produced during combustion. Since the charge in diesel engines is heterogeneous and due to the sensing nature of the ion sensor, this paper explores the effect of sensor sensing diameter and its protrusion depth inside the combustion chamber on the ion current signal development. The simulation is validated by comparing in-cylinder pressure traces, the rate of heat release, and the ion current signal. Further, the model results are validated under different engine loads and injection pressures. This study utilizes the ionization mechanism to give further understanding of the complex formation of ionization species and their amplitudes, particularly at local sensing locations. This can be very vital to identify the potentials of using the ion current sensing and highlight its viability in feedback closed loop combustion control.

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