The Use of Piezoelectric Washers for Feedback Combustion Control 2020-01-1146
The use of piezoelectric cylinder pressure sensors is very popular during engine testing, but cylinder pressure information is becoming mandatory also in several on-board applications, where Low Temperature Combustion (LTC) approaches require a feedback control of combustion, due to poor combustion stability and the risk of knock or misfire.
Several manufacturers showed the capability to develop solutions for cylinder pressure sensing in on-board automotive and aeronautical applications, and some of them have been patented. The most straight-forward approach seems the application of a piezo-electric washer as a replacement of the original part equipping the spark plug; the injector could also be used to transfer the cylinder pressure information to the piezoelectric quartz, in diesel or Gasoline Direct Injections (GDI) engines.
The paper describes the features of signals acquired using piezoelectric washers, discussing possible applications, highlighting the factors which impact the sensors accuracy, and proposing algorithms to compensate potential errors in the evaluation of combustion metrics. The sensors have been first tested on a press, then in two different gasoline engines: a naturally aspirated V12 and a turbocharged 2 cylinders with Variable Valve Lift system (VVL). Signals have been compared to those obtained with lab-grade cylinder pressure sensors, with particular attention to peak pressure, combustion phase and knock intensity.
The main issue affecting the accuracy of cylinder pressure measurement using the piezoelectric spark plug washer is the effect of temperature variations both on the force transmitted by the thread to the washer and piezoelectricity properties.