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On the identification of piston slap events in internal combustion engines using tribodynamic analysis

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journal contribution
posted on 25.02.2015, 16:23 by Nader Dolatabadi, Stephanos Theodossiades, Steve Rothberg
Piston slap is a major source of vibration and noise in internal combustion engines. Therefore, better understanding of the conditions favouring piston slap can be beneficial for the reduction of engine Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH). Past research has attempted to determine the exact position of piston slap events during the engine cycle and correlate them to the engine block vibration response. Validated numerical/analytical models of the piston assembly can be very useful towards this aim, since extracting the relevant information from experimental measurements can be a tedious and complicated process.In the present work, a coupled simulation of piston dynamics and engine tribology (tribodynamics) has been performed using quasi-static and transient numerical codes. Thus, the inertia and reaction forces developed in the piston are calculated. The occurrence of piston slap events in the engine cycle is monitored by introducing six alternative concepts: (i) the quasi-static lateral force, (ii) the transient lateral force, (iii) the minimum film thickness occurrence, (iv) the maximum energy transfer, (v) the lubricant squeeze velocity and (vi) the piston-impact angular duration. The validation of the proposed methods is achieved using experimental measurements taken from a single cylinder petrol engine in laboratory conditions. The surface acceleration of the engine block is measured at the thrust- and anti-thrust side locations. The correlation between the theoretically predicted events and the measured acceleration signals has been satisfactory in determining piston slap incidents, using the aforementioned concepts. The results also exhibit good repeatability throughout the set of measurements obtained in terms of the number of events occurring and their locations during the engine cycle.


This work was supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) [Encyclopaedic Programme Grant EP/G012334/1].



  • Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

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Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing






DOLATABADI, N., THEODOSSIADES, S. and ROTHBERG, S., 2015. On the identification of piston slap events in internal combustion engines using tribodynamic analysis. Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing, 58-59 (June 2015), pp. 308–324.


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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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This is an Open Access Article. It is published by Elsevier as Open Access at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ymssp.2014.11.012