Dilute combustion in spark-ignition engines has the potential to improve thermal efficiency by mitigating knock and by reducing throttling and wall heat losses. However, ignition and combustion processes can become unstable for dilute operation due to a lowered laminar flame speed, resulting in excessive cycle-to-cycle variability (CCV) of the combustion process. To compensate for the slower combustion in less reactive mixtures, a modified intake port geometry can be employed to generate a strong tumble flow in the cylinder and elevate turbulence levels around the spark plug, thereby promoting a faster transition to turbulent deflagration. Consequently, optimizing combustion chamber geometry and operating strategy is crucial to maximizing the benefits of using dilute combustion with enhanced in-cylinder turbulence across a wide range of operating conditions. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations can be utilized for virtual engine optimization tasks, but this would require the models to be truly predictive regarding the impact of changes to the engine design and operational parameters.
In this study, multi-cycle large-eddy simulations (LES) are performed for a direct-injection spark-ignition engine to investigate the model performance in predicting engine combustion characteristics with respect to changes in the intake configuration. A tumble plate that blocks the lower part of the intake port inlet is used to vary the tumble. A set of CFD models that have been recently developed are employed, which takes into account the drag of non-spherical droplets, flash-boiling behavior of liquid sprays, spray-wall interaction, surrogate formulation of a research-grade E10 gasoline, and fast chemical kinetic solvers. Simulation results are compared to experimental engine data in terms of cylinder pressure, apparent heat release rate, mass fraction burned timing, and flame images. It is found that LES employing the state-of-the-art CFD models are capable of properly predicting the spray processes and reproducing the measured mean cylinder pressure for the case with the tumble plate. On the other hand, the LES over-predicts the combustion rate during the early combustion stage and under-estimates the CCV, and these discrepancies become larger when the tumble plate is removed.