Institute for Research on Engines (IM)

Research activities

Advanced propulsion and energy conversion systems represent the research core in IM. Research and Development Activities (RDAs) are intended to identify innovative solutions mainly for industrial applications, also through updating high-level methodologies and for policy recommendations. The most promising research lines in terms of scientific production and grants are:

PROPULSION TECHNOLOGY is focused on the optimization of powertrain for transport applications.
RDAs are extensively performed and transferred to industries also through the active role in strategic research projects with industrial partners.
Advanced unsteady combustion regimes in the latest compression (CI) and spark ignition (SI) engines for land and sea use have been explored, also with advanced sensors, for high thermodynamic efficiency and low environmental impact. Alternative fuels and biofuels are widely characterised also within cooperative actions with other institutions (SANDIA-USA, CMT-ES, Univ. Lund-SW). Powertrain reliability has been analysed with stochastic models aimed to reduce maintenance costs. (EXCELLENCE).
Electrical, hybrid and electro-chemical systems have been considered as long-term solutions. Fast charging operations for electrical vehicles, PEM fuel cell performance improvement and optimal management of thermo-electric architectures have been realised too.

ADVANCED RESEARCH METHODOLOGIES, experimental, statistical and numerical, are daily applied to analyse phenomena underlying energy conversion in transportation and steady applications.
Optical diagnostics is used in pilot devices and research engines to characterise flow fields, fuel injection (spray morphology and atomization) and combustion (EXCELLENCE). Properties and potentiality of advanced fuels (bioalcohols, syngas, biogas, renewable fuels and nanoemulsions) are also intensively investigated through ad hoc designed diagnostic devices.
Results from experiments have been exploited for tuning and validation of 1D and 3D codes, which also give essential indications for the control, optimization and design of future ICEs.
Know-how on modelling of spray dynamics, combustion and pollutants formation with detailed kinetic schemes for different fuels has led to valuable results concerning low temperature combustion in CI engines and knock reduction and use of multiple injections in SI engines.
Control methodologies, design and validation of adaptive algorithms are developed and optimised for drive-by-wire applications.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF SURFACE TRANSPORTATION is concerned with the assessment of chemical and acoustic emissions of road, rail and waterborne transport.
Atmospheric pollution, the contribution to global warming and impact on the environmental matrix (i.e. flora) are considered. The multidisciplinary approach is the key factor of activities as in-laboratory and field testing with instrumented vehicles, monitoring of the driving styles, development and validation of models for transport emissions and energy consumption (EXCELLENCE). Main scope is the assessment of Eco-driving strategies and tools for smart use of fuels in light commercial captive fleets and urban vehicle fleets. The influence of engine-vehicle vibration on passenger acceptance noise is also evaluated.

DISTRIBUTED ENERGY SYSTEMS deal with efficient and low emissions power plants for the production and accumulation of energy by renewable sources (including opportunity fuels and non-programmable energy).
Specific research runs from the analysis in lab devices up to applications on commercial scale, as well as development of original schemes for the control and management of energy fluxes. The activities have led to the realization of demonstrators to be used within smart grids. In particular, a complex energetic system based on PV panels, a micro-gas turbine, storage of H2 from solar energy, a micro-cogeneration system, a fuel cell plant for power generation and a DC fast charging station for road electric vehicles are integrated as distributed energy sources (EXCELLENCE). Codes for control/management of systems and predictive models for the global performance analysis are developed. Joint actions with foreign organizations are in progress for the energy recovery from waste heat and materials (Univs. Pau and Nantes-Fr, Ilan-Taiwan).