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New Integrated Combustion System for Future Passenger Car Engines

The NICE Integrated Project was proposed by the European automotive industry, and given the highest responsibility level. The main objective of NICE is to develop a new integrated combustion system that, independent of the type of fuel, achieves the highest fuel conversion efficiency.

Tags: Road


The project clusters of the Fourth and Fifth Framework Programme developed advanced technologies for Otto-cycle engines (in ADIGA and GET-CO2) and diesel-cycle engines for passenger cars (in ADDI and D-ULEV). These combustion systems present opposite problems: the Otto-cycle has a high fuel consumption but with low emission levels, while the diesel-cycle shows very low fuel consumption but with substantial problems in meeting low emission levels. In the 2002 annual review of Valencia, a combined combustion system able to join the advantages of the two cycles was imagined for the first time and this is now being considered by NICE. The approach will also support, as an intermediate stage, the definition of innovative diesel- and Otto-cycle engines, to be considered as by-products of the research. The network will establish a reference legislative frame and linkages with other research projects. Particular care will be devoted to favour the integration process of the NICE sub-projects.


The main objective of NICE is to develop a new integrated combustion system that, independent of the type of fuel (i.e. neutral fuel), is able to achieve today’s highest fuel conversion efficiency of the DI diesel engine (43%), while complying with a zero-impact emission level. As a result of the gained knowledge and realised technologies of such an integrated combustion system, innovative diesel- and Otto-cycle engines, to be considered as by-products of the NICE research, will be developed. These by-products will allow Europe to maintain the leadership in the production of internal combustion engines in the years 2010-2015, while allowing the completion of the integrated combustion system in an innovative powertrain, which will take us to 2020. The fully flexible powertrain will be characterised by very high fuel conversion efficiency, mainly using newly designed bio and/or alternative fuels and gas, in the given emission constraints.

Description of work

The NICE IP is divided into four sub-projects:

  1. enlarged HCCI-diesel/CAI-Otto combustion process under transient operation
  2. compressed/spark ignited variable engine: based on gasoline or diesel engines combining the advantages into a new combustion system, with high EGR, supercharged and adapted to bio-fuels
  3. future gas internal combustion engines with diesel equivalent fuel consumption
  4. improved CFD tools and modelling: the main R&D objectives are:
    • sensible increase of HCCI/CAI region in the engine map
    • bio-fuel specifications addressed to the new combustion system
    • the combination of different electronic control units (ECU) to define new advanced systems including ECU-algorithms, real-time models and software tools for automatic validation, hardware-in-the-loop tests and calibration
    • advanced control systems for mixture preparation and combustion, required to adapt the injection and combustion strategy to the recognised fuel composition
    • a predictive, affordable and ‘useful in practice’ numerical tool describing new low emission highly efficient combustion processes.


The focus of months 13 to 24, regarding sub-projects A1, A2 and A3, was to finalise the procurement and production of test samples and advanced sub-systems, to assemble single cylinder and multi-cylinder engines, and to start the test bench investigations. The main task for the sub-project B1 was to use CFD models to assist the sub-projects A1, A2 and A3 as well as improve or generate new models.