Cyclic variability (CV) in lean homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI) combustion at the limits of operation is a known phenomenon, and this work aims at investigating the dominant effects for the cycle evolution at these conditions in a multicylinder engine. Experiments are performed in a four-cylinder engine at the operating limits at late phasing of lean HCCI operation with negative valve overlap (nvo). A combustion analysis method that estimates the unburned fuel mass on a per-cycle basis is applied on both main combustion and the nvo period revealing and quantifying the dominant effects for the cycle evolution at high CV. The interpretation of the results and comparisons with data from a single-cylinder engine indicate that, at high CV, the evolution of combustion phasing is dominated by low-order deterministic couplings similar to the single-cylinder behavior. Variations, such as air flow and wall temperature, between cylinders strongly influence the level of CV but the evolution of the combustion phasing is governed by the interactions between engine cycles of the individual cylinders.

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