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Technical Paper

Reducing Energy Losses from Automotive Engine Lubricants by Thermal Isolation of the Engine Mass

The thermal efficiency of an internal combustion engine at steady state temperatures is typically in the region of 25-35%[1]. In a cold start situation, this reduces to be between 10% and 20% [2]. A significant contributor to the reduced efficiency is poor performance by the engine lubricant. Sub optimal viscosity resulting from cold temperatures leads to poor lubrication and a subsequent increase in friction and fuel consumption. Typically, the engine lubricant takes approximately twenty minutes [3] to reach steady state temperatures. Therefore, if the lubricant can reach its steady state operating temperature sooner, the engine's thermal efficiency will be improved. It is hypothesised that, by decoupling the lubricant from the thermal mass of the surrounding engine architecture, it is possible to reduce the thermal energy loss from the lubricant to the surrounding metal structure in the initial stages of warm-up.
Technical Paper

The Use of Vehicle Drive Cycles to Assess Spark Plug Fouling Performance

Spark plug fouling is a common problem when vehicles are repeatedly operated for very short periods, particularly at low temperatures. This paper describes a test procedure which uses a series of short, high-load drive cycles to assess plug fouling under realistic conditions. The engine is force cooled between drive cycles in order to increase test throughput. Spark plug resistance is shown to be a poor indicator of the effect of fouling on engine performance and the rate of misfiring is given as an alternative measure. An automated technique to detect misfires from engine speed data is described. This has been used to investigate the effect of spark plug type, fuelling level and spark timing on fouling. Spark plugs which are designed to run hotter are found to be more resistant to plug fouling. Isolated adjustments to fuelling level and spark timing calibrations within the range providing acceptable performance have a weak effect on susceptibility to plug fouling.