Loughborough University
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Observer-based engine air charge characterisation: rapid, observer-assisted engine air charge characterisation using a dynamic dual-ramp testing method

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posted on 2018-06-01, 08:45 authored by Peter Schaal
Characterisation of modern complex powertrains is a time consuming and expensive process. Little effort has been made to improve the efficiency of testing methodologies used to obtain data for this purpose. Steady-state engine testing is still regarded as the golden standard, where approximately 90% of testing time is wasted waiting for the engine to stabilize. Rapid dynamic engine testing, as a replacement for the conventional steady-state method, has the potential to significantly reduce the time required for characterisation. However, even by using state of the art measurement equipment, dynamic engine testing introduces the problem that certain variables are not directly measurable due to the excitation of the system dynamics. Consequently, it is necessary to develop methods that allow the observation of not directly measurable quantities during transient engine testing. Engine testing for the characterisation of the engine air-path is specifically affected by this problem since the air mass flow entering the cylinder is not directly measurable by any sensor during transient operation. This dissertation presents a comprehensive methodology for engine air charge characterisation using dynamic test data. An observer is developed, which allows observation of the actual air mass flow into the engine during transient operation. The observer is integrated into a dual-ramp testing procedure, which allows the elimination of unaccounted dynamic effects by averaging over the resulting hysteresis. A simulation study on a 1-D gas dynamic engine model investigates the accuracy of the developed methodology. The simulation results show a trade-off between time saving and accuracy. Experimental test result confirm a time saving of 95% compared to conventional steady-state testing and at least 65% compared to quasi steady-state testing while maintaining the accuracy and repeatability of conventional steady-state testing.


Ford Motor Company. EPSRC.



  • Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering


  • Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering


© Peter Schaal

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date



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


  • en