An experimental investigation of the pragmatic limits of Reactivity Controlled Compression Ignition (RCCI) engine efficiency was performed. The study utilized engine experiments combined with zero-dimensional modeling. Initially, simulations were used to suggest conditions of high engine efficiency with RCCI. Preliminary simulations suggested that high efficiency could be obtained by using a very dilute charge with a high compression ratio. Moreover, the preliminary simulations further suggested that with simultaneous 50% reductions in heat transfer and incomplete combustion, 60% gross thermal efficiency may be achievable with RCCI.
Following the initial simulations, experiments to investigate the combustion process, fuel effects, and methods to reduce heat transfer and incomplete combustion reduction were conducted. The results demonstrated that the engine cycle and combustion process are linked, and if high efficiency is to be had, then the combustion event must be tailored to the initial cycle conditions. It was found that reductions to engine heat transfer are a key enabler to increasing engine efficiency. In addition, it was found that the piston oil jet gallery cooling in RCCI may be unnecessary, as it had a negative impact on efficiency. Without piston oil gallery cooling, it was found that RCCI was nearly adiabatic, achieving 95% of the theoretical maximum cycle efficiency (air standard Otto cycle efficiency).