Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI) is a combustion process based on a lean, homogeneous, premixed charge reacting and burning uniformly throughout the mixture volume. This principle leads to a consistent decrease in NOx and PM emissions, while the combustion efficiency remains comparable to traditional Compression Ignition Direct Injection (CIDI) engines at low and mid-load operations. However, understanding and controlling the combustion process is still extremely difficult, as well as finding a proper method for the fuel introduction. A viable method consists of premixing the charge by applying a proper fuel atomization device in the intake port, thus decoupling the HCCI mixture formation from the traditional in-cylinder injection. This avoids the traditional drawbacks associated to external Diesel mixture preparation, such as high intake heating, low compression ratio, wall wetting, and soot formation. The system, previously developed and tested on a single-cylinder engine, has been successfully applied to multi-cylinder Diesel engine for automotive applications. Building on previous modeling and experimental work, the paper reports a detailed experimental analysis of HCCI combustion with external mixture formation. In the considered testing setup, the fuel atomizer has been applied to a four-cylinder turbo-charged Common Rail Diesel engine equipped with a cooled EGR system. In order to extend the knowledge on the process and to provide a large base of data for the identification of Control-Oriented Models, Diesel-fueled HCCI combustion has been characterized over different values of loads, EGR dilution and boost pressures. The data collected were then used for the validation of a HCCI Diesel engine model that was previously built for steady state and transient simulation and for control purposes. The experimental results obtained, especially considering the emission levels and efficiency, suggest that the technology developed for external mixture formation is a feasible upgrade for automotive Diesel engines without introducing additional design efforts or constraints on the DI combustion and injection system.

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