The combustion stability of a single-cylinder homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI) engine operated with n-heptane was experimentally investigated over a range of engine speeds (N), intake temperatures and pressures, compression ratios (CR), air/fuel ratios (AFR), and exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) rates. These parameters were varied to alter the combustion phasing from an overly advanced condition where engine knock occurred to an overly retarded condition where incomplete combustion was observed with excessive emissions of carbon monoxide (CO) and unburned hydrocarbons (UHC). The combustion stability was quantified by the coefficients of variation in indicated mean effective pressure (COVimep) and peak cylinder pressure (COVPmax). Cycle-to-cycle variations in the HCCI combustion behavior of this engine were shown to depend strongly on the combustion phasing, defined in this study as the crank angle position where 50% of the energy was released (CA50). In general, combustion instability increased significantly when the combustion phasing was overly retarded. The combustion phasing was limited to conditions where the COVimep was 5% or less as engine operation became difficult to control beyond this point. Based on the experimental data, the combustion phasing limit was approximately a linear function of the amount of fuel inducted in each cycle. Stable HCCI combustion could be obtained with progressively retarded combustion phasing as the fuel flow rate increased. In comparison, stable HCCI combustion was only obtained under very advanced combustion phasing for low load operating conditions. Investigation of the experimental data reveals that the cyclic variations in HCCI combustion were due to cycle-to-cycle variations in total heat release (THR). The combustion completeness of the previous cycle affected the in-cylinder bulk mixture conditions and resultant heat release process of the following engine cycle.

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