Recent developments on highly downsized spark ignition engines have been focused on knocking behaviour improvement and the most advanced technologies combination can face up to 2.5 MPa IMEP while maintaining acceptable fuel consumption. Unfortunately, knocking is not the only limit that strongly downsized engines have to confront. The improvement of low-end torque is limited by another abnormal combustion which appears as a random pre-ignition. This violent phenomenon which emits a sharp metallic noise is unacceptable even on modern supercharged gasoline engines because of the great pressure rise that it causes in the cylinder (up to 20 MPa).
The phases of this abnormal combustion have been analysed and a global mechanism has been identified consisting of a local ignition before the spark, followed by a propagating phase and ended by a massive auto-ignition. This last step finally causes a steep pressure rise and pressure oscillations.
One of our objectives was to evaluate the sensitivity of an engine to pre-ignition regarding its design and settings. Therefore, in addition to our comprehension work, we have developed a first methodology based upon robust statistics to define new reliable and repeatable criteria to quantify this stochastic pre-ignition but also to detect each of its occurrence, suggesting the possibility of an on-line detection during steady state and transient operation as well. The statistical approach also showed that the distributions of well chosen combustion indicators are strongly altered by pre-ignitions. A second methodology was then defined to evaluate the influence of different parameters on pre-ignition by quantifying this alteration. This analysis notably gives the opportunity to achieve a deeper analysis of pre-ignition during engine development on test bench.