The HCCI combustion process is highly reliant upon a favorable in-cylinder thermal environment in an engine, for a given fuel. Commercial fuels can differ considerably in composition and auto-ignition chemistry, hence strategies intended to bring HCCI to market must account for this fuel variability.

To this end, a test matrix consisting of eight gasoline fuels comprised of blends made solely from refinery streams were run in an experimental, single cylinder HCCI engine. All fuels contained 10% ethanol by volume and were representative of a cross-section of fuels one would expect to find at gasoline pumps across the United States. The properties of the fuels were varied according to research octane number (RON), sensitivity (S=RON-MON) and volumetric content of aromatics and olefins.

For each fuel, a sweep of load (mass of fuel injected per cycle) was conducted and the intake air temperature was adjusted in order to keep the crank angle of the 50% mass fraction burned point (CA50) constant. By analyzing the amount of temperature compensation required to maintain constant combustion phasing, it was possible to determine the sensitivity of HCCI to changes in load for various fuels.

In addition, the deviation of fuel properties brought about variations in important engine performance metrics like specific fuel consumption. Though the injected energy content per cycle was matched at the baseline point across the test fuel matrix, thermodynamic differences resulted in a spread of specific fuel consumption for the fuels tested.

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