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Combustion and Engines

Air and Fuel Induction
Anand Joshi
Academic Associate, UOIT

Fuel Injectors
Fuel injectors are nozzles that inject a spray of fuel into the intake air.
They are normally controlled electronically, but mechanically controlled injectors
which are cam actuated also exist.
A metered amount of fuel is trapped in the nozzle end of the injector, and a high
pressure is applied to it, usually by a mechanical compression process of some
At the proper time, the nozzle is opened and the fuel is sprayed into the
surrounding air.
Most modern automobile SI engines have multipoint port fuel injectors.
In this type of system, one or more injectors are mounted by the intake valve(s)
of each cylinder.

Fuel Injectors

Throttle body injection


Multipoint fuel injection

Fuel Injectors
They spray fuel into the region directly behind the intake valve, sometimes
directly onto the back of the valve face.
Contact with the relatively hot valve surface enhances evaporation of the fuel
and helps cool the valve.
The injectors are usually timed to spray the fuel into the quasi-stationary air just
before the intake valve opens.
High liquid spray velocity is necessary to assure evaporation and mixing with the
Because injection starts before the intake valve is open, there is a momentary
pause in the air flow, and the air velocity does not promote the needed mixing
and evaporation enhancement.

Fuel Injectors

Ref: R. Stone, J.K. Ball, Automotive Engineering Fundamentals, SAE International, 2004. ISBN 0-7680-0987-1

Fuel Injectors
When the valve then opens, the fuel vapor and liquid droplets are carried into the
cylinder by the onrush of air, often with the injector continuing to spray.
Any backflow of hot residual exhaust gas that occurs when the intake valve opens
also enhances the evaporation of fuel droplets.
Multipoint port injector systems are better than carburetors or throttle body
injector systems at giving consistent AF delivery.
Some multipoint systems have an additional auxiliary injector or injectors
mounted upstream in the intake manifold to give added fuel when rich mixtures
are needed for startup, idling, WOT acceleration, or high RPM operation.
Because there is such a short duration (time and length) after fuel injection for
evaporation and mixing to occur, it is essential that port injectors spray very tiny
droplets of fuel.

Fuel Injectors
Ideally, droplet size could be varied with engine speed, smaller at higher speeds,
when real time is shorter.
Because little or no air-fuel mixing occurs in most of the intake manifold, high
velocity is not as important, and larger diameter runners with less pressure loss
can be used. There is also no displacement of incoming air with fuel vapor in the
Some systems have a single fuel pump (common rail) supplying all cylinders or a
bank of cylinders.
Other systems have a fuel pump for each cylinder, with the pump sometimes
built as a single unit with the injector.

Fuel Injectors
Time average of fuel flow into an engine at different operating conditions can
vary by as much as a factor of 50.
The amount of fuel injected for each cycle can be adjusted by injection time,
which is of the order of 1.5 to 10 ms.
Various kinds of fuel injectors are available. Most operate by trapping a small
amount of fuel behind the nozzle orifice.
The nozzle is closed by a needle valve held against its seat by a spring or magnetic
force. On lower pressure nozzles, injection is initiated by increasing pressure and
pushing open the valve, allowing flow to occur.
On high-pressure nozzles, flow is initiated by lifting the valve needle off its seat by
action of an electric solenoid. Spray duration, and sometimes pressure, is
generally controlled electronically.

Fuel Injectors

Ref: R. Stone, J.K. Ball, Automotive Engineering Fundamentals, SAE International, 2004. ISBN 0-7680-0987-1

Fuel Injectors
Some fuel injection systems, including most very early ones, consist of throttle
body injection.
This consists of one or more injectors mounted near the inlet of the intake
manifold, usually just downstream of the throttle plate.
This injector or set of injectors supplies fuel for all cylinders, allowing the
distribution to be controlled by the intake manifold.
This is simpler technology than multipoint injection and a fair amount cheaper to
Fewer injectors are needed and coarser nozzles can be used, as there is a longer
flow duration to evaporate and mix the larger fuel droplets.

For several decades,
carburetors were used
on most SI engines as
the means of adding
fuel to the intake air.
carburetors are being
replaced with fuel
injectors as pollution
laws become more
Some Small engines lawn mowers, few
automobiles and model

The basic carburetor is a

venturi tube (A) mounted
with a throttle plate (B)
(butterfly valve) and a
capillary tube to input fuel
It is usually mounted on the
upstream end of the intake
manifold, with all air
entering the engine passing
first through this venturi
Most of the time, there will
be an air filter mounted
directly on the upstream
side of the carburetor.

Other main parts of the carburetor are the fuel

reservoir (D), main metering needle valve (E), idle
speed adjustment (F), idle valve (G), and choke
As air enters the engine due to the pressure
atmospheric air and the partial vacuum in the
cylinders during intake strokes, it is accelerated to
high velocity in the throat of the venturi.
By Bernoulli's principle, this causes the pressure
in the throat P2 to be reduced to a value less than
the surrounding pressure P1, which is about one

The pressure above the fuel in the fuel reservoir is
equal to atmospheric pressure as the reservoir is
vented to the surroundings (P3 = P1 > P2).
There is, therefore, a pressure differential through the
fuel supply capillary tube, and this forces fuel flow into
the venture throat.
As the fuel flows out of the end of the capillary tube, it
breaks into very small droplets which are carried away
by the high-velocity air.
These droplets then evaporate and mix with the air in
the following intake manifold.
As engine speed is increased, the higher flow rate of air
will create an even lower pressure in the venture

This creates a greater pressure differential through
the fuel capillary tube, which increases the fuel flow
rate to keep up with the greater air flow rate and
engine demand.
A properly designed carburetor can supply the correct
AF at all engine speeds, from idle to WOT. There is a
main metering valve (E) in the fuel capillary tube for
flow rate adjustment.
The level in the fuel reservoir is controlled by a float
shutoff. Fuel comes from a fuel tank supplied by an
electric fuel pump on most modern automobiles, by a
mechanical-driven fuel pump on older automobiles,
or even by gravity on some small engines (lawn

The throttle controls the air flow rate and thus the engine speed. There is an idle
speed adjustment (throttle stop) which sets the closed throttle position such that
some air can flow even at fully closed throttle.
This adjustment, which is usually about 50-150 of throttle plate rotation, controls
how fast the engine will run at idle conditions.
Because the air flow rate through the venturi throat will be minimal at idle
conditions when the throttle is closed, the pressure in the throat will only be
slightly less than atmospheric pressure.
The pressure differential through the fuel capillary tube will be very small,
resulting in a low fuel flow rate and very poor flow control.
An idle valve is added (G) which gives better fuel flow control at idle and almost
closed throttle position.

When the throttle is closed or almost closed, there is a large pressure differential across
the throttle plate, and the pressure in the intake system downstream of the throttle (B) is
very low.
There is, therefore, a substantial pressure drop through the idle valve, allowing for
proper flow control and a greater flow rate of fuel.
Engines are usually run with a richer air-fuel mixture at low and idle speeds to avoid
misfires caused by a large exhaust residual resulting from valve overlap.
Another butterfly valve called the choke (H) is positioned upstream of the venturi throat.
This is needed to start cold engines.
It is not really the air-fuel ratio that is important for considering combustion, but the airvapor ratio; only fuel that is vaporized reacts in a combustion process.
When an engine is cold, a very small percent of fuel will vaporize in the intake and
compression processes.

When starting a cold engine, the first step is to close the choke. This restricts air
flow and creates a vacuum in the entire intake system downstream of the choke,
even at the very low air flow rates encountered in starting.
There is, therefore, a large pressure differential across both the fuel capillary tube
and the idle valve, causing a large fuel flow to mix with the low air flow.
This gives a very rich air-fuel mixture entering the cylinders, up to AF = 1:1 for
very cold starts. With only a small percent of fuel evaporating, a combustible airvapor mixture is created, combustion occurs, and the engine starts.
Only a few engine cycles are required before everything starts to heat up and
more normal operation occurs. As the engine heats up, the choke is opened and
has no effect on final steady-state operation.

Air and Fuel Flow in Carburetors

Example Problem 5.3

Supercharging and Turbocharging:

Superchargers and turbochargers are compressors mounted in the intake system
and used to raise the pressure of the incoming air.
This results in more air and fuel entering each cylinder during each cycle. This
added air and fuel creates more power during combustion, and the net power
output of the engine is increased.
Pressure increase can be anywhere from 20 to 250 kPa, with most engines on the
lower end of this scale.
Superchargers are mechanically driven directly off the engine crankshaft. They
are generally positive displacement compressors running at speeds about the
same as engine speed (Fig. 1-8).
The power to drive the compressor is a parasitic load on the engine output, and
this is one of the major disadvantages compared to a turbocharger.
Other disadvantages include higher cost, greater weight, and noise.

A major advantage of a supercharger is
very quick response to throttle changes.
Being mechanically linked to the
crankshaft, any engine speed change is
Some high-performance automobile
engines and just about all large CI
engines are supercharged.
All two-stroke cycle engines which are
not crankcase compressed (a form of
supercharged or turbocharged.

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The compressor of a turbocharger is powered by a turbine mounted in the
exhaust flow of the engine (Figs. 1-9 and 5-8). The advantage of this is that none
of the engine shaft output is used to drive the compressor, and only waste energy
in the exhaust is used. However, the turbine in the exhaust flow causes a more
restricted flow, resulting in a slightly higher pressure at the cylinder exhaust port.
This reduces the engine power output very slightly. Turbocharged engines
generally have lower specific fuel consumption rates. They produce more power,
while the friction power lost remains about the same.
Maximum pressure in an engine exhaust system is only very little above
atmospheric, so there can only be a very small pressure drop through the turbine.
Because of this, it is necessary to run the turbine at very high speeds so that
enough power is produced to run the compressor. Speeds of 100,000 to 130,000
RPM are common. These high speeds, and the fact that exhaust gas is a hot,
corrosive environment, demand special materials and concern for long-term



A disadvantage of turbochargers is turbo lag, which occurs with a sudden throttle
change. When the throttle is quickly opened to accelerate an automobile, the
turbocharger will not respond quite as quickly as a supercharger. It takes several
engine revolutions to change the exhaust flow rate and to speed up the rotor of
the turbine. Turbo lag has been greatly reduced by using lightweight ceramic
rotors that can withstand the high temperatures and that have very little mass
inertia. Turbo lag can also be reduced by using a smaller intake manifold.
Most turbochargers, like superchargers, are equipped with an aftercooler to again
lower the compressed air temperature. Many also have a bypass that allows the
exhaust gases to be routed around the turbocharger when an inlet air pressure
boost is not needed. Some modern turbines are being developed which have a
variable blade angle. As the engine speed or load is changed, the blade angle can
be adjusted to give maximum efficiency at each flow rate.

Radial flow centrifugal compressors, turning at high speed, are generally used on
automobile-size engines. On very large engines, axial flow compressors are used
because of their greater efficiency at the higher air flow rates. The isentropic
efficiency of a compressor is defined as:



Example Problem 5.3

Engineering Fundamentals of the Internal Combustion Engines, by W. W.
Pulkrabek, 2nd edition, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River (2004).