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Technical Paper

Comparison of an On-Board, Real-Time Electronic PM Sensor with Laboratory Instruments Using a 2009 Heavy-Duty Diesel Vehicle

EmiSense Technologies, LLC ( is commercializing its electronic particulate matter (PM) sensor that is based on technology developed at the University of Texas at Austin (UT). To demonstrate the capability of this sensor for real-time PM measurements and on board diagnostics (OBD) for failure detection of diesel particle filters (DPF), independent measurements were performed to characterize the engine PM emissions and to compare with the PM sensor response. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling was performed to characterize the hydrodynamics of the sensor's housing and to develop an improved PM sensor housing with reproducible hydrodynamics and an internal baffle to minimize orientation effects. PM sensors with the improved housing were evaluated in the truck exhaust of a heavy duty (HD) diesel engine tested on-road and on a chassis dynamometer at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) using their Mobile Emissions Laboratory (MEL).
Technical Paper

Railplug Ignition Operating Characteristics and Performance:A Review

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

Electronic Particulate Matter Sensor – Mechanisms and Application in a Modern Light-Duty Diesel Vehicle

An electronic particulate matter sensor (EPMS) developed at the University of Texas was used to characterize exhaust gases from a single-cylinder diesel engine and a light-duty diesel vehicle. Measurements were made during transient tip-in events with multiple sensor configurations in the single-cylinder engine. The sensor was operated in two modes: one with the electric field energized, and the other with no electric field present. In each mode, different characteristic signals were produced in response to a tip-in event, highlighting the two primary mechanisms of sensor operation. The sensor responded to both the natural charge of the particulate matter (PM) emitted from the engine, and was also found to create a signal by charging neutral particles. The characteristics of the two mechanisms of operation are discussed as well as their implications on the placement and operation of the sensor.
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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Effects of Fuel Volatility, Load, and Speed on HC Emissions Due to Piston Wetting

Piston wetting can be isolated from the other sources of HC emissions from DISI engines by operating the engine predominantly on a gaseous fuel and using an injector probe to impact a small amount of liquid fuel on the piston top. This results in a marked increase in HC emissions. In a previous study, we used a variety of pure liquid hydrocarbon fuels to examine the influence of fuel volatility and structure on the HC emissions due to piston wetting. It was shown that the HC emissions correspond to the Leidenfrost effect: fuels with very low boiling points yield high HCs and those with a boiling point near or above the piston temperature produce much lower HCs. All of these prior tests of fuel effects were performed at a single operating condition: the Ford World Wide Mapping Point (WWMP). In the present study, the effects of load and engine speed are examined.
Technical Paper

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

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

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

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

Fractal Analysis of Turbulent Premixed Flame Images from SI Engines

Researchers in the field of turbulent combustion have found fractal geometry to be a useful tool for describing and quantifying the nature of turbulent flames. This paper describes and compares several techniques for the fractal analysis of two dimensional (2-D) turbulent flame images. Four methods of fractal analysis were evaluated: the Area Method, the Box Method, the Caliper Method, and the Area-Caliper Method. These techniques were first applied to a computer-generated fractal image having a known fractal dimension and known cut-offs. It was found that a “window” effect can cause the outer cut-off to be underestimated. The Caliper Method was found to suffer from noise arising from the statistical nature of the analysis. The Area-Caliper Method was found to be superior to the other methods. The techniques were applied to two types of flame images obtained in a spark ignition engine: Mie scattering from particles seeded in the flow and laser induced fluorescence of OH.
Technical Paper

Initial Studies of a New Type of Ignitor: The Railplug

Initial investigations of a new type of high energy ignitor for I.C. engines are described. The ignitor is a miniaturized railgun, or “railplug.” The railplug produces a relatively large mass of high velocity plasma. These characteristics may be advantageous for initiating combustion in a number of different applications. Unlike a plasma jet ignitor, the railplug plasma is driven not only by thermodynamic expansion, but by electromagnetic forces as well. Four experimental railplug designs were evaluated using schlieren and shadowgraphy visualization to examine plasma movement and shape. Railplug current and voltage were also measured. One railplug consisting of two unenclosed parallel rails was used to demonstrate the electromagnetically induced motion of the plasma at ambient conditions. Schlieren photos showed that the plasma plume moves strongly in the direction of the electromagnetic Lorentz forces.
Technical Paper

Intake and ECM Submodel Improvements for Dynamic SI Engine Models: Examination of Tip-In/Tip-Out

Improved submodels for use in a dynamic engine/vehicle model have been developed and the resulting code has been used to analyze the tip-in, tip-out behavior of a computer-controlled port fuel injected SI engine. This code consists of four submodels. The intake simulation submodel is similar to prior intake models, but some refinements have been made to the fuel flow model to more properly simulate a timed port injection system, and it is believed that these refinements may be of general interest. A general purpose engine simulation code has been used as a subroutine for the cycle simulation submodel. A conventional vehicle simulation submodel is also included in the model formulation. Perhaps most importantly, a submodel has been developed that explicitly simulates the response of the on-board computer (ECM) control system.
Technical Paper

Fuel Spray Dynamics and Fuel Vapor Concentration Near the Spark Plug in a Direct-Injected 4-Valve SI Engine

The mixture preparation process was investigated in a direct-injected, 4-valve, SI engine under motored conditions. The engine had a transparent cylinder liner that allowed the fuel spray to be imaged using laser sheet Mie scattering. A fiber optic probe was used to measure the vapor phase fuel concentration history at the spark plug location between the two intake valves. The fuel injector was located on the cylinder axis. Two flow fields were examined; the stock configuration (tumble index 1.4) and a high tumble (tumble index 3.4) case created using shrouded intake valves. The fuel spray was visualized with the engine motored at 750 and 1500 RPM. Start of injection timings of 90°, 180° and 270° after TDC of intake were examined. The imaging showed that the fuel jet is greatly distorted for the high tumble condition, particularly at higher engine speeds. The tumble was large enough to cause significant cylinder wall wetting under the exhaust valves for some conditions.
Technical Paper

Liquid Film Evaporation Off the Piston of a Direct Injection Gasoline Engine

An optical access engine was used to image the liquid film evaporation off the piston of a simulated direct injected gasoline engine. A directional injector probe was used to inject liquid fuel (gasoline, i-octane and n-pentane) directly onto the piston of an engine primarily fueled on propane. The engine was run at idle conditions (750 RPM and closed throttle) and at the Ford World Wide Mapping Point (1500 RPM and 262 kPa BMEP). Mie scattering images show the liquid exiting the injector probe as a stream and directly impacting the piston top. Schlieren imaging was used to show the fuel vaporizing off the piston top late in the expansion stroke and during the exhaust stroke. Previous emissions tests showed that the presence of liquid fuel on in-cylinder surfaces increases engine-out hydrocarbon emissions.