A numerical study on the investigation of spray evolution and liquid film formation within the combustion chamber of a current production automotive Gasoline Direct Injected (GDI) engine characterised by a swirl-type side mounted injector is presented. Particularly, the paper focuses on low-temperature cranking operation of the engine, when, in view of the high injected fuel amount and the strongly reduced fuel vaporisation, wall wetting becomes a critical issue and plays a fundamental role on the early combustion stages. In fact, under such conditions, fuel deposits around the spark plug region can affect the ignition process, and even prevent engine start-up. In order to properly investigate and understand the many involved phenomena, experimental visualisation of the full injection process by means of an optically accessible engine would be a very useful tool. Nevertheless, the application of such technique, far from being feasible from an industrial point of view, appears to be very difficult even in research laboratories, due to the relevant wall wetting at cranking conditions. A numerical program was therefore carried out in order to analyze in depth and investigate the wall/spray interaction and the subsequent fuel deposit distribution on the combustion chamber walls. The CFD model describing the spray conditions at the injector nozzle was previously implemented and validated against experimental evidence. Many different injection strategies were tested and results compared in terms of both fuel film characteristics and fuel/air mixture distribution within the combustion chamber. Low-temperature cranking conditions proved to be an open challenge for the in-cylinder numerical simulations, due to the simultaneous presence of many physical sub-models (spray evolution, droplet-droplet interaction, droplet-wall interaction, liquid-film) and the very low motored engine speed. Nevertheless, the use of a properly customized and validated numerical setup led to a good understanding of the overall injection process as well as of the effects of both injection strategy and spray orientation modifications on both the air/fuel and fuel/wall interaction.

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