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An investigation and comparison between standard steady flow measurements and those in a motored engine

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posted on 25.06.2013, 07:58 authored by Graham Pitcher
With the ever more stringent requirements of emissions and fuel economy imposed on the automotive industry, there is a need to understand more fully all aspects of the internal combustion engine to meet these requirements and at the same time the desire of the customer for acceptable performance. This research was aimed at investigating one part of the engine behaviour i.e. induction of the fresh charge to the engine cylinder. Conventionally, these measurements have been performed on a steady state flow rig, where bulk, integral measurements for mass flow rate and swirl or tumble ratio are performed. However, for some of the combustion strategies now being implemented on modern engines, the flow structure is becoming more important necessitating the use of techniques that can measure the flow field and its interaction with spray systems. This piece of work compares engine flow measurements on both a standard steady flow rig and in the cylinder of a motored engine. The flow bench measurements are both easier and cheaper to implement, but serve no real purpose unless there is a correspondence between the flow measured under steady state conditions and that measured in the transient environment of an engine cylinder. On the steady flow bench, both conventional measurements and also measurements of the detailed flow using laser Doppler anemometry have been made. This allowed a direct comparison to be performed between these two sets of measurements. Laser Doppler anemometry measurements were than performed in the cylinder of a motored engine, allowing a direct comparison between the results from the steady flow rig and the engine. Additionally, particle image velocimetry was used to investigate the data on the steady flow bench. It was found that the laser Doppler anemometry measurements were no substitute in terms of accuracy, when compared to the integral measurement of mass flow rate. They did however give some insight into the flow patterns being generated within the cylinder under these conditions. When compared to similar measurements in the engine, in most instances a high degree of correlation was found between the air velocity measurements, although the tumble ratio calculated from the engine was generally higher than that from the steady flow bench. A comparison of vector flows fields from the particle image velocimetry for the steady state and laser Doppler anemometry for the engine measurements, suggested that the influence of the piston on the flows, not present for steady state measurements, was only relevant in the neighbourhood of the piston itself. The transient nature of the flow in engine also seemed to show very little differences between the two sets of measurements. It was concluded that ideally both sets of measurements are required, but that a lot of the detail, with some additional work, could be extracted from the steady flow measurements, but only by using laser diagnostics to measure the flow fields. It was also observed that more than one plane of measurements is required using laser diagnostics to fully characterise the tumble flow field, which is not uniform across the cylinder. This also led to a simple form of weighting of the data in different planes which could be improved with a more detailed set of measurements to gain better insight into the weighting factors required.


Lotus Engineering



  • Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering


  • Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering


© Graham Pitcher

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.