Effects of Fuel Reactivity and Injection Timing on Diesel Engine Combustion and Emissions

Recent strategies for simultaneously reducing NOx and soot emissions have focused on achieving nearly premixed, lowerature combustion (LTC) in diesel engines. A promising approach in this regard is to vary fuel reactivity in order to control the ignition delay and optimize the level of premixing and reduce emissions. The present study examines such a strategy by performing 3-D simulations in a single-cylinder of a diesel engine. Simulations employ the state-of-the-art two-phase models and a validated semi-detailed reaction mechanism. The fuel reactivity is varied by using a blend of n-heptane and iso-octane, which represent surrogates for gasoline and diesel fuels, respectively. Results indicate that the fuel reactivity strongly influences ignition delay and combustion phasing, whereas the start of injection (SOI) affects combustion phasing. As fuel reactivity is reduced, the ignition delay is increased and the combustion phasing is retarded. The longer ignition delay provides additional time for mixing, and reduces equivalence ratio stratification. Consequently, the premixed combustion is enhanced relative to diffusion combustion, and thus the soot emission is reduced. NOx emission is also reduced due to reduced diffusion combustion and lower peak temperatures caused by delayed combustion phasing. An operability range is observed in terms of fuel reactivity and SOI, beyond which the mixture may not be sufficiently well mixed, or compression ignited. The study demonstrates the possibility of finding an optimum range of fuel reactivity, SOI, and EGR for significantly reducing engine out emissions for a given load and speed.