Skip to main content

Reinforcement learning applied to dilute combustion control for increased fuel efficiency

by Bryan P Maldonado Puente, Brian C Kaul, Catherine Schuman, Steven R Young
Publication Type
Journal Name
International Journal of Engine Research
Publication Date
Page Numbers
1 to 17

To reduce the modeling burden for control of spark-ignition engines, reinforcement learning (RL) has been applied to solve the dilute combustion limit problem. Q-learning was used to identify an optimal control policy to adjust the fuel injection quantity in each combustion cycle. A physics-based model was used to determine the relevant states of the system used for training the control policy in a data-efficient manner. The cost function was chosen such that high cycle-to-cycle variability (CCV) at the dilute limit was minimized while maintaining stoichiometric combustion as much as possible. Experimental results demonstrated a reduction of CCV after the training period with slightly lean combustion, contributing to a net increase in fuel conversion efficiency of 1.33%. To ensure stoichiometric combustion for three-way catalyst compatibility, a second feedback loop based on an exhaust oxygen sensor was incorporated into the fuel quantity controller using a slow proportional-integral (PI) controller. The closed-loop experiments showed that both feedback loops can cooperate effectively, maintaining stoichiometric combustion while reducing combustion CCV and increasing fuel conversion efficiency by 1.09%. Finally, a modified cost function was proposed to ensure stoichiometric combustion with a single controller. In addition, the learning period was shortened by half to evaluate the RL algorithm performance on limited training time. Experimental results showed that the modified cost function could achieve the desired CCV targets, however, the learning time was reduced by half and the fuel conversion efficiency increased only by 0.30%.