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Engine combustion: leading global research teams meet in Kyoto thanks to the ECN network

IFPEN takes part in the coordination of ECN  (Engine Combustion Network), a network that brings together combustion research laboratories from around the world. The network, co-organized by IFPEN, held its 4th workshop on 5 and 6 September 2015 in Kyoto (Japan), with local support provided by the universities of Tokyo and Meiji.

Summary analyses of experimental and numerical data from some 30 laboratories were presented at the event. Some 80 people from 17 different countries traveled to Kyoto for the ECN4 workshop, with a further 40 or so people taking part remotely.

A report of the proceedings as well as recordings of the presentations are available on the ECN website.

Some of the summary results presented at the workshop will also appear in publications. At the event, the network community reiterated its determination to continue the research drive initiated.

The 5th workshop, ECN5, will be held on 31 March and 1 April 2017 in Detroit (USA).

The first session of ECN4 focused on research in the field of non-reactive diesel spray. The purpose of this research was to gain a better understanding of phenomena occurring inside injectors, their relationship with those occurring at the exit, and the evaporation process.

The main highlights to emerge from this session were:

  • comparisons of early experimental measurements of droplet size in dense atomized spray,
  • the first experimental visualizations of supercritical phase transition mechanisms,
  • the first experimental visualizations of supercritical phase transition mechanisms.

Unlike previous workshops, which focused on a principal target, Spray A, various types of targets were tackled here (variation in the number of injector holes, as well as their size and geometric shape).

The second session concerned diesel spray combustion. Participants considered issues relating to various processes: jet auto-ignition, interaction between chemistry and turbulence, and pollutant formation.

This session was an opportunity to:

  • compare numerous combustion models and kinetic diagrams with experimental data, in order to gain a better understanding of the difference between auto-ignition and flame stabilization mechanisms,
  • discuss experimental and simulation analyses on combustion structure and its impact on flow modification,
  • present an assessment of experimental advances in the field of soot formation and the current performance of related simulation models.

It should be noted that, for the first time in the network, experimental results acquired using optical engines were presented, in addition to those obtained on high-pressure/high-temperature cells.

Examples of information accessible experimentally on diesel combustion [2] (the injector exit is located in the middle of the left edge of the image and the flow is directed horizontally towards the right).

Below: light emitted naturally by the flame during the combustion reaction.

Above: additional information obtained using different techniques:

  • the green and red colors, obtained by laser-induced fluorescence, represent the distribution of reactive species present in low- and high-temperature zones respectively;
  • the dotted lines represent the contours of the speed field in non-reactive (dotted white lines) and reactive (dotted red lines) conditions, thereby demonstrating the expansive effect of combustion.


The third session focused on a relatively new theme in the ECN. The aim here was to coordinate research efforts in the field of gasoline engines, specifically research in the area of target Spray G. The focus is an "8-hole injector" representing the technology standard used in gasoline engines currently being developed. Work on this target only started during the previous ECN3 workshop, at which presentations only focused on standard characterizations.

This session highlighted considerable progress in terms of both resources and the understanding of phenomena:

  • numerous comparisons of experimental measurements concerning injector geometry,
  • first comparisons of high-resolution liquid jet structure simulation with X-ray synchrotron absorption measurements,
  • first experimental measurements of the fuel concentration field in the vapor phase, revealing interaction processes between jets,
  • first comparisons between experiment and simulation relating to the phenomenon of "flash boiling"1.


The ECN (Engine Combustion Network) was created in 2008 at the instigation of Sandia National Labs (SNL), based in Livermore (California, USA), to federate global research efforts - experimental or simulation-based - in the field of engine combustion.

IFPEN was the 1st research center to join forces with SNL to establish the foundations of the network and launch the first collaborative research projects, giving rise to the first joint SNL/IFPEN publication [1] in 2010.

While the ECN is structured around a common database fed by the various research partners and accessible online, its activities are numerous and encompass the coordination of all research efforts in the field (definition of common targets, standardization of techniques and methods, identification of research avenues and summaries of results, etc.).

The ECN workshops, launched in 2011 and held every 18 months, are a major date in the network's calendar. Since 2013, they have been jointly organized by SNL, IFPEN, the Centro Motores Termicos (CMT) of the University of Valencia (Spain). Experimental and simulation data identified as being necessary to make progress in the research areas defined are presented at these workshops. This requires preparatory work beforehand: collection of data prior to the event, followed by analysis and summary work carried out by working groups.
All information concerning the ECN and the workshops is available on the  

1- A very rapid phase transition phenomenon linked to the modification in thermodynamic conditions during fuel injection in the combustion chamber.

Contact: Gilles Bruneaux

[1] L. M. Pickett, C. L. Genzale, G. Bruneaux, L-M. Malbec, L. Hermant, C. Christiansen, and J. Schramm, Comparison of Diesel Spray Combustion in Different High-Temperature, High-Pressure Facilities, SAE Int. J. Engines December 2010 3:156-181, SAE paper 2010-01-2106.

[2] From Topic “Reactive Flow”, coordinator J. Garcia-Oliver, Session "Diesel Combustion", ECN 4, Kyoto (Japan), 2016

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