Study on Combustion Monitoring System for Formula One Engines Using Ionic Current Measurement 2004-01-1921
Formula One engines, which are the pursuit of the ultimate in performance, tend to be comparatively vulnerable to durability issues. These engines sometimes run under a state of unstable combustion as compensation for improved fuel economy. To cope with these issues, there have been strong demands in the racing field for a technology that will allow constant monitoring and prompt action to be carried out on system malfunctions and failures, as well as unstable combustion. The research program described in this paper deals with an onboard technology for monitoring combustion under all the operational conditions using ionic current measurement. The technology will possibly be applied to engine management and car-to-pit communications via telemetering. The scope of the control it offers includes; detection of misfire and hesitation, detection and management of detonation, and management of lean-burn combustion. With measurement accuracy and reliability maintained at a high level, these controls have been effectively utilized not only in the Formula One World Championship but also in the CART World Series.
This paper also briefly describes the relationship between the spark plug center electrode configuration and the amount of ionic current measurable.