Downsizing of engines is a major area of interest in the combustion engines sector due to a variety of reasons, chief among which is the CO2 emission reduction due to increased power to weight ratio. Furthermore, the introduction of various auxiliary devices into an automotive product, as well as increased acoustic insulation, necessitate continuous trimming of the engine packaging space. In this paper, the potential and limitations of downsizing diesel engines to very small displacements is studied. The goal of the article is to determine the minimum displacement a diesel engine can achieve, given the limitations posed by state-of-the-art technology. At the same time, the objective is the maximization of power density with acceptable levels of fuel consumption. While the investigations focused on the thermodynamic behavior of downsizing, structural aspects were also considered.

On the basis of a literature study, the article illustrates the benchmarking of existing small gasoline and diesel engines for different applications. Thereafter, a matrix of engine configurations, which were relevant to the investigations, was generated. This included, among others, various bore / stroke combinations, compression ratios, piston and nozzle geometries, as well as valve diameters. Further, the influence of injection pressure, swirl and air-fuel ratio were included in the study. With the aid of the 1D simulation software GT-Power and the 3D CFD code Kiva-3V, a detailed thermodynamic analysis was performed on the chosen variants.

In the results detailed in this article, a promising downsizing potential for a cylinder displacement well below 200cm3/cylinder has been established. Further, best-in-class power densities at acceptable fuel consumption levels could be achieved. This opens up the possibility for the application of such small diesel engines in a new range of applications. The challenges on the thermodynamic and structural fronts, which need to be met in order to achieve targets, are also highlighted.

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