Szybist, J., Steeper, R., Splitter, D., Kalaskar, V. et al., "Negative Valve Overlap Reforming Chemistry in Low-Oxygen Environments," SAE Int. J. Engines 7(1):418-433, 2014, doi:10.4271/2014-01-1188.
Fuel injection into the negative valve overlap (NVO) period is a common method for controlling combustion phasing in homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI) and other forms of advanced combustion. When fuel is injected into O2-deficient NVO conditions, a portion of the fuel can be converted to products containing significant levels of H2 and CO. Additionally, other short chain hydrocarbons are produced by means of thermal cracking, water-gas shift, and partial oxidation reactions. The present study experimentally investigates the fuel reforming chemistry that occurs during NVO. To this end, two very different experimental facilities are utilized and their results are compared. One facility is located at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which uses a custom research engine cycle developed to isolate the NVO event from main combustion, allowing a steady stream of NVO reformate to be exhausted from the engine and chemically analyzed. The other experimental facility, located at Sandia National Laboratories, uses a dump valve to capture the exhaust from a single NVO event for analysis. Results from the two experiments are in excellent trend-wise agreement and indicate that the reforming process under low-O2 conditions produces substantial concentrations of H2, CO, methane, and other short-chain hydrocarbon species. The concentration of these species is found to be strongly dependent on fuel injection timing and injected fuel type, with weaker dependencies on NVO duration and initial temperature, indicating that NVO reforming is kinetically limited. Further, NVO reforming does not require a large energy input from the engine, meaning that it is not thermodynamically expensive. The implications of these results on HCCI and other forms of combustion are discussed in detail.