(19)
(11)EP 3 460 222 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
06.05.2020 Bulletin 2020/19

(21)Application number: 17192415.2

(22)Date of filing:  21.09.2017
(51)Int. Cl.: 
F02D 41/02  (2006.01)
F02D 41/40  (2006.01)
F01N 9/00  (2006.01)

(54)

A METHOD, SYSTEM AND COMPUTER-PROGRAM PRODUCT FOR CONTROLLING THE PARTICULATE COMBUSTION DURING THE REGENERATION OF A PARTICULATE FILTER OF A DIESEL ENGINE

VERFAHREN, SYSTEM UND COMPUTERPROGRAMMPRODUKT ZUM STEUERN DER PARTIKELVERBRENNUNG WÄHREND DER REGENERATION EINES PARTIKELFILTERS EINES DIESELMOTORS

PROCÉDÉ, SYSTÈME ET PRODUIT-PROGRAMME D'ORDINATEUR POUR COMMANDER LA COMBUSTION DE PARTICULES PENDANT LA RÉGÉNÉRATION D'UN FILTRE À PARTICULES D'UN MOTEUR DIESEL


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(43)Date of publication of application:
27.03.2019 Bulletin 2019/13

(73)Proprietor: FCA Italy S.p.A.
10135 Torino (IT)

(72)Inventors:
  • MAURO, Alessandro
    10135 Torino (IT)
  • COLANDREA, Vincenzo
    10135 Torino (IT)
  • GAROMBO, Danilo
    10135 Torino (IT)

(74)Representative: Notaro, Giancarlo 
Buzzi, Notaro & Antonielli d'Oulx S.p.A. Corso Vittorio Emanuele ll, 6
10123 Torino
10123 Torino (IT)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A1- 1 203 869
EP-A1- 1 980 725
EP-A1- 3 396 129
FR-A1- 2 841 936
US-A1- 2004 035 101
EP-A1- 1 873 369
EP-A1- 2 530 264
WO-A1-2016/092481
JP-A- 2008 106 709
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    Field of the invention



    [0001] The present invention relates to Diesel engines and particularly relates to a method for controlling the regeneration step, i.e. controlling the combustion process of the quantity of particulate present in the particulate filter provided along the exhaust line of a Diesel engine.

    Prior art



    [0002] Reducing particulate emissions from a Diesel engine is a key problem to meet current and future regulations relative to pollutant emissions. In order to comply with particulate emission limits, it is necessary to use exhaust gas treatment systems, particularly including a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) or trap, which acts as a mechanical barrier to prevent the passage of the particulate thanks to the conformation of the ceramic channels created inside it. The aforesaid trap is integrated into the exhaust line of the engine and is able to retain therein the particulate generated during the combustion process, with an efficiency close to 100%. Particulate accumulation on the filter surface does, however, increase the pressure at the exhaust of the engine, which causes a decrease in efficiency of the engine. Consequently, regeneration of the trap is periodically desired by means of the ("light off") combustion of the particulate accumulated therein. To this end, the engine electronic control unit (ECU) for controlling the fuel injectors associated with the cylinders of the engine is programmed to activate - when a quantity of particulate accumulated in the filter exceeding a threshold value is detected - an injector control mode, which results in an automatic regeneration of the filter by an increase in the temperature of the exhaust gases sent to the filter, sufficient to burn the particulate in the filter. This temperature increase is obtained, for example, by controlling multiple fuel injections in the combustion chamber during the exhaust step (post-injections) so as to introduce the partially combusted fuel directly into the exhaust line. This partially combusted fuel, burning along the exhaust line, induces high temperatures in the DPF, allowing combustion of the accumulated particulate mass.

    [0003] Figure 1 of the attached drawings schematically shows the injection control system and the exhaust system of a modern Diesel engine. In this figure, reference numeral 1 indicates the engine, having a plurality of cylinders, each provided with an electromagnetic fuel injector 2 controlled by an electronic control unit E. Reference numeral 4 indicates the intake duct of the air, in which a flowmeter 5, a butterfly valve 6, an exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valve 7 and a supercharging compressor 8 are interposed. The reference numeral 9 indicates, as a whole, the exhaust line of the engine in which the turbine 10 is interposed, which is mechanically connected to the supercharging compressor 8, along with a pre-catalyst 11, the catalytic converter 12, and the Diesel particulate filter 13. The reference number 14 indicates the line for recirculating exhaust gases from the engine outlet to the EGR valve 7. A sensor 15 detects the existing pressure difference upstream and downstream of the particulate filter 13. The electronic control unit E receives signals leaving said sensor 15, from temperature sensors T5 and T6, associated with the exhaust gas treatment device, located upstream and downstream of the particulate filter 13, respectively, and from the flowmeter 5, and transmits control signals to the butterfly valve 6, to the EGR valve 7, and to the injectors 2. An example of such a system is EP 2963271 B1.

    [0004] The engine electronic control unit E is able to activate an automatic regeneration mode of the filter, resulting in the start of a regeneration step of the filter, with the regeneration mode that controls multiple fuel injections at each cycle of the engine so as to temporarily adjust the temperature of the exhaust gases sent to the filter 13 to a value not less than 600°C, which causes (light-off) burning of the particulate.

    [0005] The engine electronic control unit E, allows the correct concentration of oxygen, temperature and flow rate along the exhaust line to be obtained in order to efficiently regenerate the DPF 13, during the regeneration mode.

    [0006] In particular, by properly calibrating the position of the different actuators on the engine 1, it is possible to cause the correct flow rate for each engine operating condition 1 to flow through the exhaust line.

    [0007] The residual oxygen flow rate in the exhaust gases can depend, on the other hand, on both the air flow through the engine and the arrangement during the combustion cycle of the fuel injections.

    [0008] In general, the temperature of exhaust gases entering the filter 13 is controlled by means of post-injections: the engine electronic control unit E doses the quantity of the post-injections to ensure a filter inlet temperature equal to a desired value, defined during calibration. This value, in the order of 600-650°C, allows the triggering of spontaneous oxidation of the particulate stored in the filter 13.

    [0009] The engine electronic control unit E can activate the regeneration mode when, based on models implemented in the same control unit E, a particulate accumulation level in the filter 13 is estimated, for example, to be equal to a threshold value (100% accumulation), established by the manufacturer depending on the type and volume of the mounted filter 13.

    [0010] Note that, according to the state of the art, the regeneration parameters described above are calibrated by the manufacturer so that, at a 100% accumulation level, there is a regenerative process that is efficient without exceeding, at the same time, the temperature limit tolerable by the filter 13. Documents EP 1980725 A1, JP 2008106709 A, EP 2530264 A1 and EP 1203869 A1 may be of some interest for the present disclosure.

    [0011] Document EP 3 396 129 A1 may also be of interest, being part of the state of the art in accordance with Art. 54(3) EPC.

    Technical problem



    [0012] As mentioned above, the regenerative process is more efficient at high temperatures and high oxygen percentages in the exhaust gases, and at high levels of particulate accumulation inside the filter. However, these efficiency conditions can generate particulate combustion that is too fast in some cases, resulting in rapid elevation of the temperatures within the filter 13, potentially beyond the resistance limit.

    [0013] Thus, according to the prior art, the regenerative process is calibrated at the expense of the efficiency in order to protect the component and to control the particulate combustion. In particular, the anti-particulate trap is regenerated at low particulate filter filling values (lower or equal to a threshold determined by the manufacturer, 100% filter filling), while maintaining the desired temperature of the gases entering the filter 13 at a non-excessive value. This compromise results in a high frequency and duration of the regenerations and, consequently, higher fuel consumption and a faster deterioration of the engine oil.

    [0014] A further disadvantage can be seen in the case of driving profiles characterized by extremely short average runs, in which complete regeneration processes cannot be carried out. In these conditions, it is possible that the particulate mass accumulated in the filter 13 exceeds the limits fixed by the manufacturer and that, as a result, the temperature and thermal gradient limits are exceeded, with possible failure of the filter 13 due to thermal shock or fusion of the ceramic substrate.

    [0015] It is also underlined that, according to the state of the art, the desired temperature value of exhaust gases entering the DPF remains constant throughout the regeneration step. A disadvantage, therefore, can be due to the fact that since there is a progressive reduction of the particulate mass in the filter 13 during the regenerative process, the combustion rate tends to gradually decrease if the exhaust gas temperature is not progressively increased. This results in longer regeneration times than those required if the temperature was controlled during the regeneration step.

    [0016] Therefore, it can be seen that the common cause of the three problems highlighted above is to be found in the parameters of the regeneration (i.e. flow rate, temperature and oxygen concentration of inlet exhaust gases), which are not configured to the actual value of the particulate mass present in the filter 13. Conversely, the regenerative process is calibrated by the manufacturer so it is only optimal at a level of accumulation around the limit set by the manufacturer, that is, 100% filling. In cases in which filling of the filter exceeds the 100% value envisaged by the manufacture, i.e. in the case of filter clogging (for example, reaching a filter filling level three times above the manufacturer's limit, 300% filling), there is a risk of damage due to combustion that is too rapid, while for accumulation levels lower than 100% there is a longer than necessary regeneration time because of combustion that is too slow. This results in a high frequency and duration of the regenerations, resulting in a waste of fuel and a faster deterioration of the engine oil quality.

    Object of the invention



    [0017] The object of the present invention, with reference to the field of Diesel-type combustion engines, is to provide a method and a system for controlling the combustion of particulate present in a particulate filter (DPF), so as to overcome the disadvantages discussed above, for example, avoiding combustion that is too fast, which can break the filter due to thermal shock or fusion of the ceramic matrix.

    [0018] Another object of the present invention is to allow safe regeneration even if the particulate mass values are greater than a limit set by the manufacturer (filter clogging), thus reducing the regeneration frequencies, the degradation of the lubricating oil and the fuel consumption.

    Summary of the invention



    [0019] In order to achieve the aforesaid objects, the invention relates to a method for controlling a Diesel engine system, of the type comprising a particulate filter located in the engine exhaust line, and an electronic engine control unit of the engine for controlling a plurality of fuel injectors associated with the cylinders of the engine, in which a regeneration mode is activated - when a particulate mass accumulated in the filter reaches a predetermined threshold mass - comprising activating post-injections of fuel by controlling the plurality of injectors, with the regeneration mode that causes the start of a step of automatic regeneration of the filter by an increase in the temperature of the exhaust gases sent to the filter, sufficient to burn the particulate in the filter. The method of the present invention is characterized in that it comprises:
    • receiving a value of the accumulated particulate mass and a temperature value upstream of the filter and, optionally, a temperature value downstream of the filter,
    • activating an overheating mode, including at least interrupting the post-injection of fuel, to block and possibly cancel the accumulated particulate mass oxidation whenever a critical condition occurs, for at least a first period of time where the critical condition is detected when the temperature upstream of the filter exceeds a first threshold value, and
    • resuming the regeneration mode following the disappearance of the critical condition.


    [0020] The invention also relates to a system as well as a computer-program product that can be loaded into the memory of at least one processing module (e.g., an electronic control unit of the engine) and including software code portions to carry out the steps of the method when the product is executed on at least one processing module. As used herein, the reference to such a computer-program product is intended to be equivalent to referring to means readable by an electronic control unit of the engine or by a computer, containing instructions for controlling the processing system in order to coordinate the implementation of the method according to one or more embodiments. The reference to "at least one processing module" is intended to highlight the possibility of implementing one or more embodiments in a modular and/or distributed form.

    Description of the figures



    [0021] Further characteristics and advantages of the invention will become apparent from the description that follows with reference to the attached drawings, provided purely by way of non-limiting example, wherein:
    • Figure 1, already described above, schematically illustrates a Diesel engine, of the type to which the present invention is applied,
    • Figure 2 is an example of possible actions to interrupt the particulate oxidation according to the present invention, depending on the operating point of the engine,
    • Figure 3 is a block diagram showing the logic on which the electronic control unit is based in the case of the present invention, and
    • Figures 4A to 4E are exemplary of variations in time of magnitudes relative to a particulate filter of a system in which a regeneration control method according to the present invention is present.

    Description of an embodiment



    [0022] The basic idea of the present invention is to control the regeneration steps of the particulate filter, intervening both on their frequency and their duration. In general, control is desired, during each individual regenerative process, of the particulate combustion rate in the DPF 13. In this way, if a particulate mass accumulated in the filter 13 is greater than an expected value (for example, the value set by the manufacturer of 100% filter filling), it is possible to preserve the integrity of the particulate filter, while, if a particulate mass accumulated in the filter 13 is less than the expected value, it is possible to increase the regeneration efficiency of the filter 13.

    [0023] It is possible to change the rapidity of combustion during the regeneration step by varying the oxygen concentration, flow rate and temperature of the exhaust gases during the regeneration steps.

    [0024] In particular, the present invention allows control of the particulate oxidation phenomenon by means of two different methodologies, which can operate in combination with each other.

    [0025] The first method, called open-loop, acts in advance on the desired temperature of the gas entering the DPF filter 13, which changes over time, moment by moment, depending on the accumulation level of the filter 13. In particular, the desired value is reduced if the estimated particulate mass is too high, for example, filling the filter above the limit set by the manufacturer, of 100%, which could potentially generate temperature peaks beyond the limit set by the manufacturer. Instead, the desired temperature value is gradually increased during the regeneration step, since the residual particulate mass in the filter 13 is progressively reduced to maintain the rapidity of oxidation and reduce the time it takes to completely burn the particulate.

    [0026] It will be appreciated that, in the case in which it is not possible to measure the particulate mass stored in the filter 13 (by means of on-board sensors installed in the engine), it is possible to calculate the accumulated particulate mass according to a flow resistance, used as an indicator. This parameter is calculated as the ratio between a pressure drop downstream compared to upstream of the filter 13 and a volumetric flow rate of exhaust gases crossing the filter 13 itself. Both of these physical parameters are measurable by sensors conventionally installed on the engines such as the sensor 15, for example, a differential pressure sensor and/or a flow meter. Since the resistance in flow is dependent on the quantity of particulate present in the filter, it can be used as an indicator of the clogging status of the filter itself.

    [0027] In general, the first described control methodology, that is, the open-loop methodology, should be sufficient to avoid temperature peaks in the filter 13. However, in the case that critical conditions occur, or rather inlet or outlet temperatures at the filter 13 are too high, the present invention enables the second control method to be activated, known as the closed-loop method.

    [0028] This second methodology also allows instantaneous interruption of the regeneration mode if the upstream and/or downstream temperatures of the filter are too high, i.e. if they exceed a threshold value, as opposed to the open-loop method, which keeps these values under control. Interruption of the particulate combustion in the filter 13 can be accomplished by introducing a specially calibrated engine control mode for this purpose, called overheating mode.

    [0029] When a condition for deactivating the overheating mode occurs, when the critical conditions are no longer verified, the engine control unit E again activates the regeneration mode of the particulate filter 13, in order to burn the residual particulate mass by means of controlling the post-injections of fuel.

    [0030] It will be appreciated that the overheating operating mode may be desired by the engine control unit E whenever critical conditions occur and, therefore, even more than once during a single regeneration step. In other words, there is a possibility that the critical conditions occur more than once during the same regeneration step, and the regeneration mode and overheating mode can alternate.

    [0031] During the overheating mode, to interrupt the particulate oxidation, post-injections of fuel are deactivated, so as to suddenly reduce the inlet exhaust gas temperatures into the particulate filter 13 and lower them below the temperature value that allows spontaneous combustion of the particulate (for example, about 600-650°C in the case of platinum-catalyzed filters).

    [0032] In addition, further actions can be taken to stop the particulate oxidation, in case deactivation of post-injections of fuel is insufficient. In fact, because of the thermal inertia of the ceramic matrix, high temperature conditions could be maintained within the filter 13 for a time sufficient to cause uncontrolled combustion of the particulate.

    [0033] For this reason, during the overheating mode, in addition to deactivating post-injections of fuel, it is also possible to act on the flow rate and oxygen concentration of the exhaust gases.

    [0034] In particular, it would be desirable to increase the exhaust gas flow rate through the filter 13, by reducing the inlet and outlet temperature, and reducing the temperature peaks due to uncontrolled combustion. It would also be desirable to reduce, at the same time, the residual oxygen percentage in the exhaust gases, so as to limit the value of the oxidizable particulate mass.

    [0035] Unfortunately, these two actions cannot occur simultaneously, as the increase in the flow rate of exhaust gases inevitably results in an increase in residual oxygen in the exhaust gases and vice versa. Therefore, during the overheating mode, it is possible to favor an increase in the flow rate of exhaust gases or a reduction in the percentage of oxygen in the exhaust gases, for example, depending on the operating point of the engine.

    [0036] Figure 2 illustrates a full load curve R, represented as a function of the engine revolution number nG and the engine torque C. This representation facilitates comprehension of what actions are taken to stop oxidation of the particulate depending on the operating point of the engine.

    [0037] In particular, if the engine is operating at medium-high rotation speeds, i.e. a number of rotations higher than nG1 (e.g. about 1500 rpm), the flow of exhaust gases can be increased at the expense of residual oxygen reduction: under these conditions it is possible to obtain a sufficient gas flow to rapidly reduce the temperatures in the filter 13 and to avoid uncontrolled combustion of particulate mass.

    [0038] Conversely, if the engine operates at low rotation speeds, e.g. a number of rotations lower than the value nG1, the residual oxygen percentage can be reduced: in these conditions, it is not possible to request the engine to have a high flow rate of exhaust gases and, therefore, as it is difficult to rapidly reduce the internal temperatures of the filter 13, it may limit the particulate combustion rate. In fact, the mass of particulate that can be burned increases as the flow rate of oxygen increases through the filter 13 itself: therefore, by reducing the oxygen flow rate, to cancel it, the particulate combustion can be reduced (or interrupted if there is no oxygen flow).

    [0039] It can be appreciated that the values previously presented as the limit between the low and medium-high speeds are to be considered purely by way of example: in fact, they are used here as an arbitrary limit between rotation speeds, for simplicity and brevity, but there is no defined boundary, and switching from one to another mode is achieved by calibration of several engine parameters that are constantly changing.

    [0040] Consequently, in addition to interrupting the post-injections, if the engine is running at medium or high speed, it is possible to increase the exhaust gas flow rate while, if the engine is running at a low speed, it is possible to reduce the residual oxygen percentage in the exhaust gases.

    [0041] In addition, it has been found that adjusting the concentration of oxygen to low values is difficult, and can result in high instability in the combustion chamber, particularly when the engine is at low rotation speeds, for example, a number of rotations lower than nGO, less than 900 rpm. The method of the present invention aims to increase the engine rotation speed above a lower limit, in the event that the overheating mode is activated. In this way, the overheating mode can only be activated if the rotation speed is higher than the lower limit (for example, the number of rotations exceeds the value nGO), and it is possible to avoid operating the engine in conditions where the combustion process in the chamber would be unstable at low oxygen values.

    [0042] As mentioned above, the overheating operating mode is requested by the engine control unit in the case that critical conditions are detected for the particulate filter 13, temporarily suspending the regenerative mode of operation, at least until the critical conditions cease to be detected.

    [0043] In Figure 3, the logic behind the second closed-loop control method described above is concisely shown, in particular, the logic of entering and leaving the overheating mode, represented by an OH signal with a high value (e.g. 1) in the case of activating and a low value (e.g. 0), in the case of deactivating the overheating mode.

    [0044] A block 100 receives, as inputs, an inlet temperature TI and an accumulated particulate mass M, and returns a signal indicative of the fact that a first critical activation condition has been detected. In a non-limiting example, this signal is 1 if the first activation condition is present, and is otherwise 0. This first critical condition occurs if the temperature value of the gases entering the filter TI exceeds a first threshold value for a first critical time period, both values being calibrated. In particular, both the threshold value for the temperature TI entering the filter and the critical time are calibrated according to the particulate mass M stored in the filter (that is, the value eventually calculated by means of the sensors present on the filter, as described above). Therefore, when the stored particulate mass M decreases (thanks to the progression of the regeneration step), the value of the first critical temperature threshold and the value of the first critical time period of permanence in this condition increase.

    [0045] Activating the overheating mode, following detection of the first activation condition, does not involve an uncontrolled combustion of particulate, since the first activation condition is a preventative condition that triggers oxidation reactions, but interrupts them after a certain critical time, to prevent them from becoming too rapid and generating temperature peaks in the gases entering and leaving the particulate filter 13.

    [0046] Therefore, in a block 102, a second critical activation condition can be detected, depending on the temperature of the gases leaving the filter To and the accumulated particulate mass M in the filter 13. This second activation condition occurs when the temperature of the exhaust gases leaving the filter To exceeds a second threshold value for a second period of time, both of these values are calculated as a function of the mass of stored particulate M: once again, when the accumulated particulate mass M decreases, the value of the second threshold temperature and the second time period for which critical conditions are detected can be increased.

    [0047] The signal leaving the block 102 is thus representative of the occurrence of an oxidation that is too rapid, detected by means of the second critical activation condition, since the temperature increase To leaving the particulate filter is due to the particulate combustion inside the filter itself.

    [0048] The second critical condition can be used as a safety condition, if the first condition was insufficient. In fact, the temperature To of the exhaust gases leaving the filter is indicative of the effective rapidity of combustion of the particulate, but due to the thermal inertia of the filter 13, this information can be obtained with a high delay, which can lead to not being able to safeguard the component effectively.

    [0049] Generally, the two conditions are evaluated in parallel, by means of an OR 104 logic gate, which receives the signals leaving the blocks 100 and 102, so that the overheating mode can be requested and activated when at least one of the two critical activation conditions occurs.

    [0050] As mentioned earlier, the regeneration mode can be reactivated again if the critical activation conditions are no longer detected and a return condition occurs. This return state can be calculated, in a block 106, as a function of the temperature of the gases leaving the filter To, received at the input of the block 106, together with the accumulated particulate mass M. For example, when the value of the outlet temperature derivative To becomes less than or equal to zero and, at the same time, the value of this temperature is below a certain threshold for a certain period of validation time, the return condition is validated and - at the output of the block 106 - a signal indicative of a request for interrupting the overheating mode will be present, for example, having a high value in the case of request for interrupting the overheating mode, and low otherwise. The return condition indicates that particulate combustion no longer occurs in the filter 13 and, therefore, the return condition causes the regeneration mode to reactivate. Again, the temperature threshold values and the validation time period are calculated according to the particulate mass M stored in the filter (calculated, in turn, through the values received by the sensors present in the system and particularly on the filter 13): as the stored mass value M decreases, the threshold value for the outlet temperature TO, and for its derivative and the validation time decrease. Conversely, if the accumulated mass M is high, for example, at the start of the regeneration step, these threshold values are higher, in order to allow the reactivation of the regeneration mode if there is relative certainty that the particulate combustion has been interrupted during the overheating mode.

    [0051] In addition, an output signal at the OR logic gate 104 is taken to a set input S of an SR latch 108, while the signal indicating the deactivation condition at the output of the block 106 is taken to a reset input R of the SR latch 108. At the output Q of the latch 108, a signal is generated requesting activation of the overheating mode OH, which has a high value in the case of activation request (e.g., 1) or low in the case of a deactivation request (e.g., 0) of the overheating mode. Activation and deactivation of the overheating mode can also occur instantly following switching on of the overheating signal OH. Therefore, the overheating mode can be activated if the first and/or the second critical activation condition occur, and can be deactivated if the return condition occurs and, at the same time, both the first critical condition and the second critical condition are absent.

    [0052] An actual regeneration step is shown in Figures 4A-4E in the case in which a method according to one or more embodiments is performed. In particular, Figure 4A shows the variation in time of a temperature of the gases entering the filter TI and of a desired inlet temperature TID, which can change as a function of the mass M of accumulated particulate in the filter (calculated using the open-loop method), and which can be used in the block 100 to calculate the first temperature threshold if the first critical condition of the overheating mode is activated; Figure 4B represents the request signal for activating and deactivating the overheating mode OH; Figure 4C represents the variation in time of the inlet TI and outlet To temperatures of the filter 13; Figure 4D represents post-injections PI (in mm3/cc) of fuel as a function of the time; and Figure 4E represents the quantity of mass of stored particulate M within the filter 13, which decreases over time during the regeneration step.

    [0053] Thanks to the method described in the description, it was possible to regenerate the particulate filter 13 starting from an accumulated particulate level that was 300%, above the limit set by the manufacturer, M300 in Figure 4E, without exceeding the inlet and outlet temperature threshold values of the filter TI and To set by the manufacturer.

    [0054] At the start of the regeneration step, at a time t1, when the engine control unit activates the regeneration mode, post-injections of fuel PI are activated to rapidly increase the temperature TI of the gases entering the filter. However, the desired temperature TID is maintained low (for example, about 550°C) to control the rapid combustion of the particulate mass M inside the filter 13. As the particulate mass M is gradually burned, this desired temperature value rises, as described above with reference to Figure 3.

    [0055] At a time t2, when one of the first or second critical conditions described above is validated, the engine control unit stops the regeneration mode and activates the overheating operating mode (OH signal passes to its high value): the post-injections are deactivated as shown in Figure 4D, possibly changing the gas flow rate or oxygen concentration at the same time.

    [0056] Consequently, the inlet temperature TI drops rapidly and the particulate combustion is reduced until it stops.

    [0057] When, at a time t3, the outlet temperature TO reaches its peak and begins to decrease (that is, its derivative is zero or negative), the deactivation condition is detected and allows the overheating mode to stop and the regeneration mode to reactivate. It will be appreciated that the outlet temperature TO reaches its local peak following the inlet temperature TI due to the thermal inertia previously discussed, and the burned particulate mass will also be reduced and brought to zero with a delay compared to the time in which the overheating mode begins, as can be seen in Figure 4E where the stored particulate mass M becomes constant around a time t3 in which the overheating mode is deactivated. At this time, the accumulated mass M in the particulate filter 13 is, therefore, lower than that at time t1. Consequently, the desired temperature TID can be greater than the desired temperature TID at time t1, since the desired temperature T10 increases as the accumulated mass M in the filter decreases given that, as the accumulated mass M decreases, the occurrence of temperature peaks is less likely. In other words, the desired inlet temperature of the filter TID is gradually increased, and the threshold values for recognition of the critical conditions, for example, the threshold temperature value and the permanence time in this condition, become higher.

    [0058] The regeneration and overheating operating modes alternate during the regeneration step, and the accepted temperatures increase progressively: the inlet and outlet temperatures can increase if there is a simultaneous decrease in the accumulated mass M in the filter.

    [0059] It will be appreciated that at a moment t4, a last overheating operating mode of the regeneration step is deactivated. This is because at a time called t100, the particulate mass reaches the accumulation level established by the manufacturer M100, that is filling of the filter by 100%. Below this value of the accumulated mass M100, the regeneration step can proceed spontaneously until complete oxidation of the particulate occurs, since the inlet and outlet temperatures of the filter TI, and TO have difficulty in exceeding a temperature value beyond which there is a risk of uncontrolled combustion. From time t100, the desired inlet temperature value at the filter TID can be further increased (to about 670°C) to maintain a high regeneration efficiency. Therefore, once the accumulated particulate mass reaches 100% filling M100 dictated by the manufacturer, the overheating mode will no longer be activated in this operating example.

    [0060] It will be appreciated that, at a 100% filter filling level, the thresholds of the first and second critical activation conditions and their respective critical times become high, so it is uncommon to activate the overheating mode below this level of mass M100, representing 100% filling of the filter.

    [0061] In different embodiments, the overheating mode can, in any case, be activated during the entire regeneration step, and thus also at this 100% accumulation level; in fact, in particular driving conditions (e.g. in urban driving with low flow rate values of exhaust gases), temperature peaks may also occur at very low values of stored mass M in the filter, that is, below the 100% filling level provided by the manufacturer.

    [0062] In conclusion, the present invention avoids uncontrolled particulate combustion in the filter 13 so as to reduce the probability that the temperature limit set by the manufacturer is exceeded, thus preserving the integrity of the filter itself.

    [0063] The present invention also allows an increase in the limit of accumulated mass within the particulate filter dictated by the manufacturer (100% filling of the filter), allowing filter clogging (300% accumulation level) without, however, increasing the risk of damage to the filter 13. As a result, it is possible to perform more effective regeneration steps less frequently, resulting in reduced fuel consumption and less degradation of lubricating oil.

    [0064] Without prejudice to the underlying principles, the details and the embodiments may vary, even appreciably, with respect to what has been described here, purely by way of example, without departing from the scope of protection.

    [0065] This scope of protection is defined by the attached claims.


    Claims

    1. A method for controlling a Diesel engine system, of the type comprising a particulate filter (13) interposed in the exhaust line (9) of the engine, and an electronic control unit (E) for controlling a plurality of fuel injectors (2) associated with the cylinders of the engine, wherein - when an accumulated particulate mass (M) in said filter (13) reaches a predetermined threshold mass (M300) - a regeneration mode is activated, comprising activating post-injections of fuel by means of controlling said plurality of injectors (2), which determines the start of an automatic filter (13) regeneration step, by an increase in the temperature of the exhaust gases sent to the filter sufficient to burn the particulate in the filter (13),
    the method being characterized in that it comprises:

    - receiving a value of said accumulated particulate mass (M) and a temperature value upstream (T5) of the filter (13),

    - activating an overheating mode, configured for interrupting particulate combustion, comprising deactivating said post-injections of fuel whenever a critical condition occurs for at least a first period of time, said critical condition being a condition wherein said temperature value upstream of the filter (T5) exceeds a first threshold value, and

    - resuming said regeneration mode following the disappearance of said critical condition,

    wherein said first threshold value and said first time period are calculated as a function of the particulate mass (M) accumulated in the filter (13), wherein said calculated first threshold value and said first time period increase in time as the particulate mass (M) accumulated in the filter (13) decreases.
     
    2. The method according to claims 1, comprising:

    - receiving a value downstream of the filter (T6),

    - activating said overheating mode whenever said critical condition and/or further critical condition occurs, said further critical condition being said temperature value downstream of the filter (T6) that exceeds a second threshold value for a second period of time, and

    - resuming said regeneration mode following the disappearance of said critical condition and said further critical condition.


     
    3. The method according to claim 2, wherein said second threshold value and said second time period are calculated as a function of the particulate mass (M) accumulated in the filter (13).
     
    4. The method according to claim 3, wherein said calculated second threshold value and said second time period increase in time as the particulate mass (M) accumulated in the filter (13) decreases.
     
    5. The method according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the accumulated particulate mass (M) is calculated as a function of a resistance in flow through the filter (13), calculated as the ratio between a pressure drop downstream of the filter (13) compared to upstream, and a volumetric flow rate of exhaust gases through the filter (13).
     
    6. The method according to any of the preceding claims, wherein activating said overheating mode comprises interrupting said post-injections of fuel and:

    - if the engine is running at least at a medium speed, increasing a flow rate of exhaust gases, or

    - if the engine is running at a low speed, reducing a percentage of residual oxygen in the exhaust gases.


     
    7. The method according to any one of the preceding claims, comprising:

    - allowing activation of said overheating mode if a rotation speed is greater than a predetermined minimum value, and

    - if said rotation speed is lower than said predetermined minimum value, adjusting said rotation speed to exceed said predetermined minimum value before activating said overheating mode.


     
    8. The method according to any one of the preceding claims, comprising, after the interruption, restarting said regeneration mode when a return condition occurs, namely:

    - the value of the derivative of a temperature downstream of the filter (T6) is negative or zero, and

    - the value of the temperature downstream of the filter (T6) is less than a third threshold value for a third time period.


     
    9. The method according to claim 8, wherein said third threshold value and said third time period are calculated as a function of the particulate mass (M) accumulated in the filter (13).
     
    10. The method according to claim 9, wherein said third threshold value and said third time period increase over time as the particulate mass (M) accumulated in the filter (13) increases.
     
    11. A Diesel engine system for a motor-vehicle, comprising a particulate filter interposed in the engine exhaust line, and an electronic control unit for controlling the fuel injectors associated with the engine cylinders, configured to carry out the steps of a method according to any of claims 1 to 10.
     
    12. A computer-product program loadable in the memory of at least one electronic control unit, and comprising software code portions for performing the steps of the method of any one of claims 1 to 10 when executed on the at least one electronic control unit.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Verfahren zur Steuerung eines Dieselmotorsystems, das einen Partikelfilter (13), der in einer Abgasleitung (9) des Motors enthalten ist, und eine elektronische Steuereinheit (E) zur Steuerung mehrerer Kraftstoffeinspritzeinheiten (2) aufweist, die den Zylindern des Motors zugeordnet sind, wobei - wenn eine akkumulierte Partikelmasse (M) in dem Filter (13) eine vorbestimmte Schwellenwertmasse (M300) erreicht - ein Regenerationsmodus aktiviert wird, der umfasst: Aktivieren von nachgeordneten Einspritzungen von Kraftstoff durch Steuern der mehreren Einspritzeinheiten (2), wodurch der Beginn eines automatischen Filter-(13)Regenerationsschritts festgelegt wird durch Erhöhung der Temperatur der dem Filter zugeleiteten Abgase in ausreichender Weise, so dass die Teilchen in dem Filter (13) verbrannt werden,
    wobei das Verfahren dadurch gekennzeichnet ist, dass es umfasst:

    - Empfangen eines Werts der akkumulierten Partikelmasse (M) und eines Temperaturwerts für eine dem Filter (13) vorgeordnete Lage (T5),

    - Aktivieren eines Überheizungsmodus, der geeignet ist, die Partikelverbrennung zu unterbrechen, mit: Deaktivieren der nachgeordneten Einspritzungen an Kraftstoff, sobald eine kritische Bedingung für mindestens eine gewisse Zeitdauer auftritt, wobei die kritische Bedingung eine Bedingung ist, wonach der dem Filter vorgeordnete Temperaturwert (T5) einen ersten Schwellenwert übersteigt, und

    - Wiederaufnehmen des Regenerationsmodus nach dem Verschwinden der kritischen Bedingung,

    wobei der erste Schwellenwert und die erste Zeitdauer als eine Funktion der Partikelmasse (M) berechnet werden, die in dem Filter (13) angesammelt ist, wobei der berechnete erste Schwellenwert und die erste Zeitdauer im zeitlichen Verlauf bei Abnahme der in dem Filter (13) akkumulierten Partikelmasse (M) zunehmen.
     
    2. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1, das umfasst:

    - Empfangen eines dem Filter nachgeordneten Werts (T6),

    - Aktivieren des Überheizungsmodus, sobald die kritische Bedingung und/oder weitere kritische Bedingungen auftritt/auftreten, wobei die weitere kritische Bedingung der dem Filter nachgeordnete Temperaturwert ist und einen zweiten Schwellenwert für eine zweite Zeitdauer übersteigt, und

    - Wiederaufnehmen des Regenerationsmodus nach dem Verschwinden der kritischen Bedingung und der weiteren kritischen Bedingung.


     
    3. Verfahren nach Anspruch 2, wobei der zweite Schwellenwert und die zweite Zeitdauer als eine Funktion der Partikelmasse (M), die in dem Filter (13) angesammelt ist, berechnet werden.
     
    4. Verfahren nach Anspruch 3, wobei der berechnete zweite Schwellenwert und die zweite Zeitdauer im zeitlichen Verlauf mit abnehmender Partikelmasse (M), die in dem Filter (13) angesammelt ist, zunehmen.
     
    5. Verfahren nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei die akkumulierte Partikelmasse (M) als eine Funktion eines Strömungswiderstands durch den Filter (13), der als das Verhältnis zwischen einem Druckabfall hinter dem Filter (13) im Vergleich zu vor dem Filter berechnet ist, und einer volumetrischen Durchflussrate von Abgasen durch den Filter (13) berechnet wird.
     
    6. Verfahren nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei Aktivieren des Überheizungsmodus umfasst: Unterbrechen der nachgeordneten Einspritzungen an Kraftstoff, und:

    - wenn der Motor zumindest mit einer mittleren Drehzahl läuft, Erhöhen einer Durchflussrate für Abgase, oder

    - wenn der Motor mit einer geringen Drehzahl läuft, Reduzieren eines Anteils des Restsauerstoffs in den Abgasen.


     
    7. Verfahren nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, mit:

    - Ermöglichen einer Aktivierung des Überheizungsmodus, wenn eine Drehzahl größer als ein vorbestimmter minimaler Wert ist, und

    - wenn die Drehzahl kleiner ist als der vorbestimmte minimale Wert, Verstellen der Drehzahl derart, dass der vorbestimmte minimale Wert überschritten wird, bevor der Überheizungsmodus aktiviert wird.


     
    8. Verfahren nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, das umfasst: nach der Unterbrechung, Neustarten des Regenerationsmodus, wenn eine Rückkehrbedingung auftritt, in der Form:

    - der Wert der Ableitung einer dem Filter nachgeordneten Temperatur (T6) ist negativ oder Null, und

    - der Wert der dem Filter nachgeordneten Temperatur (T6) ist kleiner als ein dritter Schwellenwert über eine dritte Zeitdauer hinweg.


     
    9. Verfahren nach Anspruch 8, wobei der dritte Schwellenwert und die dritte Zeitdauer als eine Funktion der Partikelmasse (M), die in dem Filter (13) akkumuliert ist, berechnet werden.
     
    10. Verfahren nach Anspruch 9, wobei der dritte Schwellenwert und die dritte Zeitdauer im zeitlichen Verlauf bei zunehmender Partikelmasse (M), die sich in dem Filter (13) ansammelt, zunehmen.
     
    11. Dieselmotorsystem für ein Motorfahrzeug, mit einem Partikelfilter, der in der Motorabgasleitung angeordnet ist, und mit einer elektronischen Steuereinheit zur Steuerung von Kraftstoffeinspritzeinheiten, die den Motorzylindern zugeordnet sind, wobei das System ausgebildet ist, die Schritte eines Verfahrens nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 10 auszuführen.
     
    12. Computerproduktprogramm, das in den Speicher mindestens einer elektronischen Steuereinheit ladbar ist und Softwarecodebereiche umfasst, die geeignet sind, die Schritte des Verfahrens nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 10 auszuführen, wenn die Softwarecodebereiche in der mindestens einen elektronischen Steuereinheit ausgeführt werden.
     


    Revendications

    1. Procédé de commande d'un système de moteur diesel, du type comprenant un filtre à particules (13) interposé dans la conduite d'échappement (9) du moteur, et une unité de commande électronique (E) pour commander une pluralité d'injecteurs de carburant (2) associés aux cylindres du moteur, dans lequel - lorsqu'une masse de particules accumulée (M) dans ledit filtre (13) atteint une masse seuil prédéterminée (M300) - un mode de régénération est activé, comprenant l'activation de post-injections de carburant au moyen de la commande de ladite pluralité d'injecteurs (2), qui détermine le début d'une étape de régénération automatique de filtre (13), par une augmentation de la température des gaz d'échappement envoyés au filtre, suffisante pour brûler les particules dans le filtre (13),
    le procédé étant caractérisé en ce qu'il comprend :

    - la réception d'une valeur de ladite masse de particules accumulée (M) et d'une valeur de température en amont (T5) du filtre (13),

    - l'activation d'un mode de surchauffe, configuré pour interrompre la combustion de particules, comprenant la désactivation desdites post-injections de carburant chaque fois qu'une condition critique se produit pendant au moins une première période de temps, ladite condition critique étant une condition dans laquelle ladite valeur de température en amont du filtre (T5) dépasse une première valeur seuil, et

    - la reprise dudit mode de régénération suite à la disparition de ladite condition critique,

    dans lequel ladite première valeur seuil et ladite première période de temps sont calculées en fonction de la masse de particules (M) accumulée dans le filtre (13), où ladite première valeur seuil calculée et ladite première période de temps augmentent au fil du temps à mesure que la masse de particules (M) accumulée dans le filtre (13) diminue.
     
    2. Procédé selon les revendications 1, comprenant :

    - la réception d'une valeur en aval du filtre (T6),

    - l'activation dudit mode de surchauffe chaque fois que ladite condition critique et/ou une autre condition critique se produit/produisent, ladite autre condition critique étant ladite valeur de température en aval du filtre (T6) qui dépasse une deuxième valeur seuil pendant une deuxième période de temps, et

    - la reprise dudit mode de régénération suite à la disparition de ladite condition critique et de ladite autre condition critique.


     
    3. Procédé selon la revendication 2, dans lequel ladite deuxième valeur seuil et ladite deuxième période de temps sont calculées en fonction de la masse de particules (M) accumulée dans le filtre (13).
     
    4. Procédé selon la revendication 3, dans lequel ladite deuxième valeur seuil calculée et ladite deuxième période de temps augmentent au fil du temps à mesure que la masse de particules (M) accumulée dans le filtre (13) diminue.
     
    5. Procédé selon l'une des revendications précédentes, dans lequel la masse de particules accumulée (M) est calculée en fonction d'une résistance à l'écoulement à travers le filtre (13), calculée comme étant le rapport entre une baisse de pression en aval du filtre (13) par rapport à l'amont, et un débit volumétrique des gaz d'échappement à travers le filtre (13).
     
    6. Procédé selon l'une des revendications précédentes, dans lequel l'activation dudit mode de surchauffe comprend l'interruption desdites post-injections de carburant et :

    - l'augmentation d'un débit des gaz d'échappement, si le moteur tourne au moins à un régime moyen, ou

    - la réduction d'un pourcentage d'oxygène résiduel dans les gaz d'échappement, si le moteur tourne à bas régime.


     
    7. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, comprenant :

    - la permission de l'activation dudit mode de surchauffe si une vitesse de rotation est supérieure à une valeur minimale prédéterminée, et

    - si ladite vitesse de rotation est inférieure à ladite valeur minimale prédéterminée, le réglage de ladite vitesse de rotation pour dépasser ladite valeur minimale prédéterminée avant l'activation dudit mode de surchauffe.


     
    8. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, comprenant, après l'interruption, le redémarrage dudit mode de régénération lorsqu'une condition de retour se produit, à savoir :

    - la valeur de la dérivée d'une température en aval du filtre (T6) est négative ou nulle, et

    - la valeur de la température en aval du filtre (T6) est inférieure à une troisième valeur seuil pendant une troisième période de temps.


     
    9. Procédé selon la revendication 8, dans lequel ladite troisième valeur seuil et ladite troisième période de temps sont calculées en fonction de la masse de particules (M) accumulée dans le filtre (13).
     
    10. Procédé selon la revendication 9, dans lequel ladite troisième valeur seuil et ladite troisième période de temps augmentent au fil du temps à mesure que la masse de particules (M) accumulée dans le filtre (13) augmente.
     
    11. Système de moteur diesel pour un véhicule automobile, comprenant un filtre à particules interposé dans la conduite d'échappement de moteur et une unité de commande électronique pour commander les injecteurs de carburant associés aux cylindres de moteur, configuré pour exécuter les étapes d'un procédé selon l'une des revendications 1 à 10.
     
    12. Programme de produit informatique pouvant être chargé dans la mémoire d'au moins une unité de commande électronique et comprenant des parties de code logiciel pour effectuer les étapes du procédé de l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 10 lorsqu'il est exécuté sur l'au moins une unité de commande électronique.
     




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    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description