Institute for Research on Engines (IM)



Istituto Motori (IM) was founded in 1940 and inaugurated on 10th april 1940 as Istituto Nazionale dei Motori, with the statutory task to perform studies and research of scientific and technological kind in the field of engines, their components and the related chemical-physical phenomena. Istituto Motori is the only Italian institute qualified for studies and experimental researches on internal combustion engines. It works in synergy with the University and other national and international research institutions. In particular, the IM carries out research activity (both fundamental and applied) on propulsion systems (thermal and/or electrical), on the cinematic chains for the traction, on the diagnostics of thermal and fluid dynamic processes, on the systems of management, regulation and control, on environment-friendly systems for pollutant emissions after-treatment, on the chemical technology for treatment and management of liquid and/or gaseous fuels, and on the methodology for the reliability analysis of the propulsion system and its subsystems. In the last years, the IM has played a leading role, co-operating with industrial partners, in the technological evolution of both the internal combustion engine and the fuels; it gave original and tangible contributions to the realization, from the national companies, of low-emission vehicles, complying with the severe UE regulations. IM has carried out, with autonomous determination and planning, the activity of fundamental and applied research, transferring the results to the scientific community and the companies working in the field, along with pre- and post-degree formation. In fact it has taken part to several National, European, International research programs, in active contracts with manufacturing companies, in the coordination committees of several international associations and in the organization of seminars and scientific conventions. Particular attention has been given to pre- and post-degree formation, through scholarships, Ph.D. and research grants, in cooperation with the main Italian Universities. IM is currently organized in five Departments: fluid dynamics and combustion, spark ignition engines and fuels, diesel engines and fuels, regulations and environment, statistics and reliability. The current guidelines of the research activities originate in the growing public awareness about the environmental impact. The automotive research has been paying greater and greater attention to the study of the formation of gaseous and particulate polluting species, as well as to the use of reformulated gaseous and liquid fuels.
A wide number of active lines of research at IM can be traced back to this frame of reference: the experimental characterization of the particulate formation both in custom - made combustion reactors (combustion bombs, shock tube etc.), and in engines with optical access; the application of diagnostic techniques with high time and space resolution (absorption and scattering of the laser light, UV-visible spectroscopy, digital imaging, fast sampling of the species in the combustion chamber); the dimensional and morphological characterization of particulate matter in the engine exhaust and its comparison with the results from electronic microscopy; the study of the physical-chemical processes inside drops of combustible liquids, alternative and renewable, during the combustion phase by means of novel laser techniques; the analysis through new-concept LIDAR techniques of anthropic aerosols, to monitor their distribution in the urban atmosphere; the study of high-pressure diesel jets up to 2000 bars (penetration, cone angle and drop dimension). Among the fields where the IM can claim a sound experience, there is the numerical simulation of the phenomena taking place in the engine cylinder: the multi-dimensional fluid dynamic codes available on market (KIVA, FIRE, etc.) are optimized and integrated with phenomenological models of turbulence, jets, combustion and particulate formation. Well-established activities deal with the use of gaseous fuel, such as compressed natural gas (CNG), either in modified diesel engines and in modified diesel engines, and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), in spark ignition engines for road transport.
The IM has been actively joining the projects and the networks of the European Union in cooperation with the main automotive and oil companies, in the field of both engine development and reformulated liquid fuels. The Chemical Laboratory can rely on instrumental equipment for the analysis of organic micro-polluting species (Policyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, Volatile Organic Compounds, Carbossilic Compounds, Dioxins) emitted at i.c.e. exhaust, harmful for the mankind and the environment. In the field of spark ignition engines, current topics of interest are the catalytic conversion of gaseous emissions and the model-based electronic control of modern multi-point injection engines. With reference to the vehicle-engine-atmosphere interaction, the Institute contributed to the layout and development of the pilot project ATENA, in collaboration with the Naples Municipality, Centro Ricerche Fiat and Elasis, aimed to develop a model to estimate the emissions of bi-power Fiat Marea cars in actual utilization. In the field of reliability, innovative methodologies for the analysis of the reliability of the repairable mechanical systems are developed, through new stochastic models able to describe various processes of breakdown and/or maintenance policy, and through new estimation procedures.
As far as the education activities are concerned, the Institute works in a thematic context that includes several scientific disciplines. The Institute has always accommodated, for the bachelor theses, about 10 students per year, with average thesis length greater than 12 months. A high number of seminars are organized, also with automotive companies, in the fields of competence. Knowledgeable researchers of the Institute have been appointed as professors with Italian University, for cycles of three years, holding courses of Internal Combustion Engines, Fluid Dynamics and Combustion of I.C.E., Applied Chemistry, Theory and Statistical Methods of Reliability. The close and firm relationships with the European, American and Japanese University often see the researchers of the Institute in quality of "Visiting Scientist" or "Invited Lecturer" in such structures. Activity of "referee" and/or collaboration in quality of members of the editorial board of scientific publications is regularly carried out. In compliance with the enforced norms, the IM is funding (totally or in part) Ph.D. grants, in the framework of conventions with the University of Naples Federico II and the University of L'Aquila; the activities are carried out in the laboratories of the IM. Finally, several C.N.R. fellowships have been granted, funded by the C.N.R., private companies and other agencies. In the years to come, the Institute plans to establish a three-year course of specialization in the field of the "Internal combustion engines and advanced energetic systems", aimed to promote the formation of multi-disciplinary experts in the field.

Istituto Motori carries out an intense activity of dissemination of results, through seminars, national and international congresses and participation to international organism. In particular, it organizes the ICE biennial congress, which periodically outlines the state of art of the automotive research, thanks to the participation of approximately 200 experts from all over the world. It is in the Executive Committee of the International Energy Agency for the Implementing Agreement "Energy Conservation in Combustion and Emissions Reduction", together with members from other ten countries. It has activated the Italian Section of the International Society of Automotive Engineer (SAE), with 350 members, aimed to the international cooperation, scientific spreading on mobility and student formation for the participation to SAE Formula, periodically held in the USA.
The Istituto Motori is one of "Full members" of EARPA "European Automotive Research Partners Association" established in 2002. Objectives of Association are the information exchange on European programs (FP6), co-operation and co-ordination of members on research programs and building relationship with the European Commission, European Parliament and industrial stakeholders in the automotive sector.


After the earthquake of 1980 which hard damaged all the institute plant, the C.N.R. deliberated to demolish and to reconstruct the Offices Building by own financings.
The new building, completed in 22 months and inaugurated in February 1990 in occasion of 50 years of the Institute activity, includes light Laboratories, Offices and Studies, Library, Conference Room (160 places), Historical Museum, Business Catering (100 places), Garage (for 80 cars).
In the 1991 the U.E. approved a research project, suggested by the Director of the Institute, in order to support the research and the technological development in the transportation sector, in the southern regions of Italy, recognizing to the Istituto Motori the level of "excellence" in communitarian within. That allowed the Institute to combine to the CNR-MISM understanding program a large additional U.E financing., used for the purchase of great equipment for the search, for the modernization of the technological systems and for the construction of new test rooms and of the foresteria (9 rooms). The laboratories have further equipped by more modern technological systems for the treatment of the air inhaled from engines, of the water cooling, of technical gas distribution, of exhaust gases extraction, as well as of the most modern emergency equipments for the utilization of gaseous fuels as the hydrogen, the natural gas and the GPL. Survey systems and centralized fire signaling have been further installed. Moreover in the fuel store an automatic extinction system has been also installed. The actual plant of the Istituto Motori one extends on a surface of 12,752 mq, of which 4,627 occupied by buildings, for a total volume of 42,763 mc. The real estate value is estimated 41 billions (italian lire), that one of the technological systems is estimated around 20 billions and that one of the search equipments around 40 billions. The institute activity includes 40% of base research financed in part by the CNR and part by agreements stipulated with Public Agencies; 45% of applied research financed by active contracts with the industry, the UE and National Plans of Research; 10% of formation for graduates, doctorate and post-doctorate; 5% of consulting to National Departments and National and International Agencies. On 1° January 2003, after the staff retirements in recent years, Istituto Motori comprises 86 units of staff, of which 45 are Technicians and Administrative employees, and 41 Researchers and Technologists. The organic plant of the institute previews 128 units of staff.

In the recent refurbishment, the former laboratories have been upgraded to the most recent normative and integrated with new spaces, aimed to fundamental studies on thermal- fluid- dynamics, to applied research on new generation direct injection engines and to the conversion of energy for hybrid thermal-electrical and electrical vehicles with Fuel Cells. Worth of mention are the following:
· Cell for the study of in-cylinder fluid dynamics, with Laser Doppler Anemometry (LDA) technique in real engines;
· Cell for the fluid dynamic study of intake and exhaust systems, operating on a dynamic flow-bench, by means of particle image velocimetry (PIV);
· Cell for the dimensional and morphological characterization of particulate matter at the exhaust of "common rail" diesel engines up to 100 kW, with laser light absorption and scattering techniques;
· Cell for the study of mixture formation, combustion and formation of particulate matter in optically accessible d.i. diesel engines (AVL), by means of digital visualization, Phase Doppler Particle Analyzer (PDPA), spectroscopy in the UV-visible range, and laser light absorption and scattering;
· Test Cell for the experimental study of the systems of energy conversion, based on Fuel Cell, fed by hydrogen, up to 50 kW (electrical);
· Laboratory for the study catalytic production processes of the H2 from liquid and gaseous fuels.
· Laboratory for the study of the evaporation of combustible mixtures and of the formation of solid and gaseous pollutants, in systems at controlled pressure and temperature;
· Test cell to measure of the emissions from engines up to 400 kW;
· Cell for dynamic tests of engines fueled with compressed natural gas (CNG) or GPL up to 400 kW;
· Laboratory for the development of new strategies of "model-based" electronic control for spark ignition engines of gross power up to 600 kW; · Laboratory for low-duty Fuel Cells vehicles, of Fiat Multipla class;
· Laboratory for the study of the thermal- and fluid- dynamics of high-pressure fuel jets, operating at well-controlled pressure and temperature, by means of fast photography, extinction and scattering of the laser light;
· Laboratory for the study of the base combustion processes of commercial and alternative fuels by means of optical techniques; the study of the kinetics of formation of pollutants and sub-micron particulate species in "shock tube" systems; for the development of optical diagnostics;
· Electronics laboratory for the development of systems of engine diagnostic and mapping of electronic control units;
· High dynamics test bench for the characterization and optimization of advanced propulsion systems.
· Cell for dynamic tests on electrical propulsion fuel cells systems up to 100 kW (CRAC Trasporti).
· Laboratory for the experimental study of vehicle environmental impact with relation to driving behaviour, traffic situation and road characteristics based on the integration of driver simulator, vehicle on dynamometer chassis and gaseous and particle pollutants measurement system