Experimental investigations were carried out to assess the use of hydrogen in a Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) engine. Injection of small amounts of hydrogen (up to 27% on energy basis) in the intake port creates a reactive homogeneous background for the direct injection of gasoline in the cylinder. In this way, it is possible to operate the engine with high EGR rates and, in certain conditions, to delay the ignition timing as compared to standard GDI operation, in order to reduce NOx and HC emissions to very low levels and possibly soot emissions. The results confirmed that high EGR rates can be achieved and NOx and HC emissions reduced, showed significant advantage in terms of combustion efficiency and gave unexpected results relative to the delaying of ignition, which only partly confirmed the expected behavior. A realistic application would make use of hydrogen-containing reformer gas produced on board the vehicle, but safety restrictions did not allow using carbon monoxide in the test facility. Thus pure hydrogen was used for a best-case investigation. The expected difference in the use of the two gases is briefly discussed.

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