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Technical Paper

Railplug Ignition Operating Characteristics and Performance:A Review

2007-07-23
2007-01-1832
The basic process of spark ignition in engines has changed little over the more than 100 years since its first application. The rapid evolution of several advanced engine concepts and the refinement of existing engine designs, especially applications of power boost technology, have led to a renewed interest in advanced spark ignition concepts. The increasingly large rates of in-cylinder dilution via EGR and ultra-lean operation, combined with increases in boost pressures are placing new demands on spark ignition systems. The challenge is to achieve strong and consistent ignition of the in-cylinder mixture in every cycle, to meet performance and emissions goals while maintaining or improving the durability of ignitor. The application of railplug ignition to some of these engine systems is seen as a potential alternative to conventional spark ignition systems that may lead to improved ignition performance.
Technical Paper

Development of the Texas Drayage Truck Cycle and Its Use to Determine the Effects of Low Rolling Resistance Tires on the NOX Emissions and Fuel Economy

2009-04-20
2009-01-0943
Trucks operating in inter-modal (drayage) operation in and around port and rail terminals, are responsible for a large proportion of the emissions of NOX, which are problematic for the air quality of the Houston and Dallas/Ft. Worth metro areas. A standard test cycle, called the Texas Dray Truck Cycle, was developed to represent the operation of heavy-duty diesel trucks in dray operations. The test cycle reflects the substantial time spent at idle (~45%) and the high intensity of the on-road portions. This test cycle was then used in the SAE J1321 test protocol to evaluate the effect on fuel consumption and NOX emissions of retrofitting dray trucks with light-weight, low-rolling resistance wide-single tires. In on-track testing, a reduction in fuel consumption of 8.7% was seen, and NOX emissions were reduced by 3.8% with the wide single tires compared to the conventional tires.
Technical Paper

Further Development of an On-Board Distillation System for Generating a Highly Volatile Cold-Start Fuel

2005-04-11
2005-01-0233
The On-Board Distillation System (OBDS) extracts, from gasoline, a highly volatile crank fuel that enables simultaneous reduction of start-up fuel enrichment and significant ignition timing retard during cold-starting. In a previous paper we reported reductions in catalyst light-off time of >50% and THC emissions reductions >50% over Phase I of the FTP drive cycle. The research presented herein is a further development of the OBDS concept. For this work, OBDS was improved to yield higher-quality start-up fuel. The PCM calibration was changed as well, in order to improve the response to intake manifold pressure transients. The test vehicle was tested over the 3-phase FTP, with exhaust gases speciated to determine NMOG and exhaust toxics emissions. Also, the effectiveness of OBDS at generating a suitable starting fuel from a high driveability index test gasoline was evaluated.
Technical Paper

Analysis of Factors that Affect the Performance of Railplugs

2005-04-11
2005-01-0252
As natural gas engines are designed to operate leaner and with increased boost pressure, durability of the spark plugs becomes problematic. Among the various new ignition devices that have been considered to solve some of the problems facing spark plugs, railplugs appear to hold clear advantages in some areas. There are two types of railplugs: coaxial rail and parallel rail. This paper reports the results of an experimental study of various parameters that affect the performance of parallel railplugs. Their performance was quantified by the distance that the arc traveled along the rails from the initiation point. Travel along the rails is thought to be an important performance metric because rail-travel limits excessive local wear and produces a distributed ignition source which can potentially reduce mixture inhomogeneity induced ignition problems.
Technical Paper

A New Ignitior for Large-Bore Natural Gas Engines - Railplug Design Improvement and Optimization

2005-04-11
2005-01-0249
It is a very challenging problem to reliably ignite extremely lean mixtures, especially for the low speed, high load conditions of large-bore natural gas engines. If these engines are to be use for the distributed power generation market, it will require operation with higher boost pressures and even leaner mixtures. Both place greater demands on the ignition system. The railplug is a very promising ignition system for lean burn natural gas engines with its high-energy deposition and high velocity plasma arc. It requires care to properly design railplugs for this new application, however. For these engines, in-cylinder pressure and mixture temperature are very high at the time of ignition due to the high boost pressure. Hot spots may exist on the electrodes of the ignitor, causing pre-ignition problems. A heat transfer model is proposed in this paper to aid the railplug design. The electrode temperature was measured in an operating natural gas engine.
Technical Paper

From Spark Plugs to Railplugs – The Characteristics of a New Ignition System

2004-10-25
2004-01-2978
Ignition of extremely lean or dilute mixtures is a very challenging problem. Therefore, it is essential for the engine development engineer to understand the fundamentals and limitations of existing ignition systems. This paper presents a new railplug ignition concept, a high-energy ignition system, which can enhance ignition of very lean mixtures by means of its high-energy deposition and high velocity jet of the plasma. This paper presents initial results of tests using an inductive ignition system, a capacitor discharge ignition system, and a railplug high-energy ignition system. Discharge characteristics, such as time-resolved voltage, current, and luminous emission were measured. Spark plug and railplug ignition are compared for their effects on combustion stability of a natural gas engine. The results show that railplugs have a very strong arc-phase that can ensure the ignition of very dilute mixtures.
Technical Paper

Direct Measurement of Powertrain Component Efficiencies for a Light-Duty Vehicle with a CVT Operating Over a Driving Cycle

2003-10-27
2003-01-3202
In order to determine the factors that affect fuel economy quantitatively, the power flows through the major powertrain components were measured during operation over transient cycles. The fuel consumption rate and torque and speed of the engine output and axle shafts were measured to assess the power flows in a vehicle with a CVT. The measured power flows were converted to energy loss for each component to get the efficiency. Tests were done at Phase 1 and Phase 3 of the FTP and for two different CVT shift modes. The measured energy distributions were compared with those from the ADVISOR simulation and to results from the PNGV study. For both the Hot 505 and the Cold 505, and for both shift modes, the major powertrain loss occurs in the engine, including or excluding standby losses. However, the efficiency of the drivetrain/transmission is important because it influences the efficiency of the engine.
Technical Paper

Impact of Railplug Circuit Parameters on Energy Deposition and Durability

2003-10-27
2003-01-3135
A railplug is a new type of ignitor for SI engines. A model for optimizing energy deposition in a railplug ignition system is developed. The model is experimentally validated using a low voltage railplug ignition circuit. The effect of various ignition circuit parameters on the energy deposition and its rate are discussed. Durability of railplugs is an important factor in railplug circuit design. As for all spark ignitors, durability of a railplug decreases as energy deposition is increased. Therefore recommendations are made to minimize wear and increase durability, while depositing sufficient energy to attain ignition, using a railplug.
Technical Paper

An On-Board Distillation System to Reduce Cold-Start Hydrocarbon Emissions

2003-10-27
2003-01-3239
An On-Board Distillation System (OBDS) was developed to extract, from gasoline, a highly volatile crank fuel that allows the reduction of startup fuel enrichment and significant spark retard during cold starts and warm-up. This OBDS was installed on a 2001 Lincoln Navigator to explore the emissions reductions possible on a large vehicle with a large-displacement engine. The fuel and spark calibration of the PCM were modified to exploit the benefits of the OBDS startup fuel. Three series of tests were performed: (1) measurement of the OBDS fuel composition and distillation curve per ASTM D86, (2) measurement of real-time cold start (20 °C) tailpipe hydrocarbon emissions for the first 20 seconds of engine operation, and (3) FTP drive cycles at 20 °C with engine-out and tailpipe emissions of gas-phase species measured each second. Baseline tests were performed using stock PCM calibrations and certification gasoline.
Technical Paper

Refinement of a Dedicated E85 1999 Silverado with Emphasis on Cold Start and Cold Drivability

2001-03-05
2001-01-0679
The University of Texas 2000 Ethanol Vehicle Challenge team remains focused on cold start, cold drivability, fuel economy, and emissions reduction for our 2000 Ethanol Vehicle Challenge entry. We used the stock PCM for all control functions except control of an innovative cold-start system our team designed. The primary modifications for improved emissions control involved ceramic coating of the exhaust manifolds, use of close-coupled ethanol-specific catalysts, use of a moddified version of the California Emissions Calibrated PCM, and our cold-start system that eliminates the need to overfuel the engine at the beginning of the FTP. Additionally, we eliminated EGR at high load to improve power density. Major modifications, such as increasing the compression ratio or pressure boosting, were eliminated from consideration due to cost, complexity, reliability, or emissions penalties.
Technical Paper

Conversion of a 1999 Silverado to Dedicated E85 with Emphasis on Cold Start and Cold Driveability

2000-03-06
2000-01-0590
The University of Texas Ethanol Vehicle Challenge team focused upon cold start/driveability, fuel economy, and emissions reduction for our 1999 Ethanol Vehicle Challenge entry. We replaced or coated all fuel system components that were not ethanol compatible. We used the stock PCM for all control functions except control of a novel cold-start system our team designed. The primary modifications for improved emissions control involved ceramic coating of the exhaust manifolds, use of close-coupled ethanol-specific catalysts, increased EGR for the operating conditions of the five longest cruises on the FTP, and our cold-start system that eliminates the need to overfuel the engine at the beginning of the FTP. This EGR control scheme should also benefit urban fuel economy. Additionally, we eliminated EGR at high load to improve power density.
Technical Paper

Effects of Railplugs on the Dilution Tolerance of a Spark Ignition Engine

1993-08-01
931800
The results of continuing investigations of a new type of ignitor, the railplugs are reported. Previous studies have shown that railplugs can produce a high velocity jet of plasma. Additionally, railplugs have the potential of assuring ignition under adverse conditions, such as for very dilute mixtures, because the railplug plasma is both hotter and has a larger mass than the plasma generated by a spark plug. In this paper, engine data are presented to demonstrate the improved dilution tolerance obtainable with railplugs. Data acquired using a railplug are compared to results obtained using a conventional spark plug and a spark plug with a wide spark gap, both using an inductive ignition system. The present results affirm earlier, preliminary findings that railplugs can extend the dilution limit and produce faster combustion.
Technical Paper

Initial Study of Railplugs as an Aid for Cold Starting of Diesels

1994-02-01
940108
The results of continuing investigations of a new type of ignitor, the railplug, are reported. Previous studies have shown that railplugs can produce a high velocity jet of plasma. Additionally, railplugs have the potential of assuring ignition under adverse conditions, such as cold start of an IDI diesel engine, because the railplug plasma can force ignition in the combustion chamber rather than relying on autoignition under cold start conditions. In this paper, engine data are presented to demonstrate the improved cold starting capability obtainable with railplugs. Data acquired using a railplug are compared to results obtained using no assist and using glow plugs. The engine used for this investigation will not start without glow plugs (or some starting aid) at temperatures below O°C, and the manufacturer's specification of the cold start limit for this engine using glow plugs is -24°C. Railplugs are able to initiate combustion at -29°C in one to two seconds with no preheating.
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