A rapid compression machine (RCM) test bench is developed in this study. The performance characterization and auto-ignition performance tests are conducted at an initial temperature of 293 K, a compression ratio of 9.5 to 16.5, a compressed temperature of 650 K to 850 K, a driving gas pressure range of 0.25 MPa to 0.7 MPa, an initial pressure of 0.04 MPa to 0.09 MPa, and a nitrogen dilution ratio of 35% to 65%. A new type of hydraulic piston is used to address the problem in which the hydraulic buffer adversely affects the rapid compression process. Auto-ignition performance tests of the RCM are then performed using a DME–O2
mixture. The two-stage ignition delay and negative temperature coefficient (NTC) behavior of the mixture are observed. The effects of driving gas pressure, compression ratio, initial pressure, and nitrogen dilution ratio on the two-stage ignition delay are investigated. Results show that both the first-stage and overall ignition delays tend to increase with increasing driving gas pressure. The driving gas pressure within a certain range does not significantly influence the compressed pressure. With increasing compression ratio, the first-stage ignition delay is shortened, whereas the second-stage ignition delay is extended. With increasing initial pressure, both the first-stage and second-stage ignition delays are shortened. The second-stage ignition delay is shortened to a greater extent than that of the first-stage. With increasing nitrogen dilution ratio, the first-stage ignition delay is shortened, whereas the second-stage is extended. Thus, overall ignition delay presents different trends under various compression ratios and compressed pressure conditions.