The continuous development of modern internal combustion engine (ICE) management systems is mainly aimed at combustion control improvement. Nowadays, performing an efficient combustion control is crucial for drivability improvement, efficiency increase (critical for spark ignited engines), and pollutant emissions reduction (critical in compression ignited engines). The most important quantities used for combustion control are engine load (indicated mean effective pressure (IMEP) or torque delivered by the engine) and center of combustion, i.e., the angular position in which 50% of fuel burned within the engine cycle is reached. Both quantities can be directly evaluated starting from in-cylinder pressure measurement, which could be performed using the newly developed piezoresistive pressure sensors for on-board applications. However, the use of additional sensors would increase the cost of the whole engine management system. Due to these reasons, over the past years, a methodology that allows evaluating both engine load and the center of combustion with no extra cost has been developed. This approach is based on engine speed fluctuation measurement, which can be performed using the same speed sensor already mounted on-board. The methodology is general and can be applied to different engine–driveline systems with different architectures and combustion orders. Furthermore, it is compatible with on-board requirements, since the evaluation of only one specific harmonic component of interest is required (depending on the engine–driveline configuration under investigation). In order to clarify all the issues related to the application of the presented approach, it has been applied to some different engines, both compression ignited and spark ignited, taking also into account the case of combustion not evenly spaced. For all the analyzed configurations, the results obtained using the estimation algorithm seemed to be adequate to feedback a closed-loop methodology for optimal combustion control.

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