Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering–Engineering Mechanics (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics


Jeff Naber


Experimental work and analysis was done to investigate engine startup robustness and emissions of a flex-fuel spark ignition (SI) direct injection (DI) engine. The vaporization and other characteristics of ethanol fuel blends present a challenge at engine startup. Strategies to reduce the enrichment requirements for the first engine startup cycle and emissions for the second and third fired cycle at 25°C ± 1°C engine and intake air temperature were investigated.

Research work was conducted on a single cylinder SIDI engine with gasoline and E85 fuels, to study the effect on first fired cycle of engine startup. Piston configurations that included a compression ratio change (11 vs 15.5) and piston geometry change (flattop vs bowl) were tested, along with changes in intake cam timing (95,110,125) and fuel pressure (0.4 MPa vs 3 MPa). The goal was to replicate the engine speed, manifold pressure, fuel pressure and testing temperature from an engine startup trace for investigating the first fired cycle for the engine.

Results showed bowl piston was able to enable lower equivalence ratio engine starts with gasoline fuel, while also showing lower IMEP at the same equivalence ratio compared to flat top piston. With E85, bowl piston showed reduced IMEP as compression ratio increased at the same equivalence ratio. A preference for constant intake valve timing across fuels seemed to indicate that flattop piston might be a good flex-fuel piston. Significant improvements were seen with higher CR bowl piston with high fuel pressure starts, but showed no improvement with low fuel pressures.

Simulation work was conducted to analyze initial three cycles of engine startup in GT-POWER for the same set of hardware used in the experimentations. A steady state validated model was modified for startup conditions. The results of which allowed an understanding of the relative residual levels and IMEP at the test points in the cam phasing space. This allowed selecting additional test points that enable use of higher residual levels, eliminating those with smaller trapped mass incapable of producing required IMEP for proper engine turnover.

The second phase of experimental testing results for 2nd and 3rd startup cycle revealed both E10 and E85 prefer the same SOI of 240°bTDC at second and third startup cycle for the flat top piston and high injection pressures. E85 fuel optimal cam timing for startup showed that it tolerates more residuals compared to E10 fuel. Higher internal residuals drives down the Ø requirement for both fuels up to their combustion stability limit, this is thought to be direct benefit to vaporization due to increased cycle start temperature. Benefits are shown for an advance IMOP and retarded EMOP strategy at engine startup.

Overall the amount of residuals preferred by an engine for E10 fuel at startup is thought to be constant across engine speed, thus could enable easier selection of optimized cam positions across the startup speeds.