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QUESTIONS IN RECENT EXAMS: 3. a) Explain the combustion phenomenon in an S.I engine. b) Explain the effect of various engine variables on S.I engine knock. 3. a) Discuss the variables affecting flame speed in SI engines. b) Discuss about the basic requirements of SI engine combustion chambers 3. a) What is delay period and what are the factors which affect delay period b) Explain with simple sketches, combustion chambers for SI engines 3. a) What is abnormal combustion, explain with supportive figures the concept of abnormal combustion b) What are fuel requirements for a SI engine and what are

Combustion may be defined as a relatively rapid chemical

combination of hydrogen and carbon in fuel with oxygen in air resulting in liberation of energy in the form of heat. Following conditions are necessary for combustion to take place 1. The presence of combustible mixture 2. Some means to initiate mixture 3. Stabilization and propagation of flame in Combustion Chamber

Combustion in SI engine may roughly divided into two general types: Normal and Abnormal In Normal combustion the spark ignites the compressed fuel/air mixture and a smooth burn travels through the combustion chamber . In Abnormal combustion , certain conditions deviates the combustion from its normal course leading to loss of performance and possible damage to the engine. This is also known as knocking combustion.


A theoretical pressure-crank angle diagram, during the process of compression (ab), combustion (bc) and expansion (cd) in an ideal four-stroke spark-ignition engine is shown in Fig

In an actual engine the combustion process in an SI engine consists of Three stages


There is a certain time interval between instant of spark and instant where there is a noticeable rise in pressure due to combustion. This time lag is called IGNITION LAG. Ignition lag is the time interval in the process of chemical reaction during which molecules get heated up to self ignition temperature , get ignited and produce a self propagating nucleus of flame. The ignition lag is generally expressed in terms of crank angle (1). Ignition lag is very small and lies between 0.00015 to 0.0002 seconds. An ignition lag of 0.002 seconds corresponds

2. FLAME PROPAGATION STAGE: Once the flame is formed at b, it should be self sustained and must be able to propagate through the mixture. This is possible when the rate of heat generation by burning is greater than heat lost by flame to surrounding. After the point b, the flame propagation is abnormally low at the beginning as heat lost is more than heat generated. Therefore pressure rise is also slow as mass of mixture burned is small. Therefore it is necessary to provide angle of advance 30 to 35 deg, if the peak pressure to be attained 5-10 deg after TDC. The time required for crank to rotate through an angle 2 is known as combustion period during which propagation of flame takes place.

3.AFTER BURNING: Combustion will not stop at point c but continue after attaining peak pressure and this combustion is known as after burning. This generally happens when the rich mixture is supplied to engine. The flame velocity decreases during this stage. The rate of combustion becomes low due to lower flame velocity and reduced flame front surface.


The two important factors which determine the rate of

movement of the flame front across the combustion chamber are the reaction rate and the transposition rate. The reaction rate is the result of a purely chemical combination process . The transposition rate is due to the physical movement of the flame front relative to the cylinder wall and is also the result of the pressure differential between the burning gases and the un-burnt gases in the combustion chamber.

Figure. Shows the rate of flame propagation

In area I, (AB), the flame front progresses

relatively slowly due to a low transposition rate and low turbulence. The transposition of the flame front is very little since there is a comparatively small mass of charge burned at the start. The low reaction rate plays a dominant role resulting in a slow advance of the flame. As the flame front leaves the quiescent zone and proceeds into more turbulent areas (area II) where it consumes a greater mass of mixture, it progresses more rapidly and at a constant rate (BC). The volume of unburned charge is very much less towards the end of flame travel and so the transposition rate again becomes negligible thereby reducing the flame speed (CD)

FACTORS AFFCTING THE FLAME PROPAGATION Rate of flame propagation affects the combustion process in SI engines. Higher combustion efficiency and fuel economy can be achieved by higher flame propagation velocities. Unfortunately flame velocities for most of fuel range between 10 to 30 m/second. The factors which affect the flame propagations are 1. Air fuel ratio 2. Compression ratio 3. Load on engine 4. Turbulence 5.Engine speed 6. Engine size 7.Other factors

1. A : F ratio. The mixture strength influences the rate of combustion and amount of heat generated. The maximum flame speed for all hydrocarbon fuels occurs at nearly 10% rich mixture. Flame speed is reduced both for lean and as well as for very rich mixture. Very rich mixture results incomplete combustion Lean mixture releases less heat resulting lower flame temperature and lower flame speed.

2. Compression ratio: The higher compression ratio increases the pressure and temperature of the mixture and also decreases the concentration of residual gases. All these factors reduce the ignition lag and help to speed up the second phase of combustion.

3.Engine Output: The cycle pressure increases when the engine output is increased. With the increased throttle opening the cylinder gets filled to a higher density. This results in increased flame speed. When the output is decreased by throttling, the initial and final compression pressures decrease and the dilution of the working mixture increases. The main disadvantages of SI engines are the poor combustion at low loads

4. Turbulence : Turbulence plays very important role in combustion of fuel as the flame speed is directly proportional to the turbulence of the mixture. This is because, the turbulence increases the mixing and heat transfer rate between the burned and unburned mixture. The turbulence of the mixture can be increased at the end of compression by suitable design of the combustion chamber Insufficient turbulence provides low flame velocity and incomplete combustion and reduces the power output. But excessive turbulence is also not desirable as it increases the combustion rapidly and leads to detonation. Moderate turbulence is always desirable as it accelerates the chemical reaction, reduces ignition lag, increases flame

5. Engine Speed The turbulence of the mixture increases with an increase in engine speed. For this reason the flame speed almost increases linearly with engine speed. 6.Engine Size: The size of the engine does not have much effect on the rate of flame propagation. In large engines the time required for complete combustion is more because the flame has to travel a longer distance. This requires increased crank angle duration during the; combustion. This is one of the reasons why large sized engines are designed to operate at low speeds. 7. Other Factors. Among the other factors, the factors which increase the flame speed are supercharging of the engine, spark timing and residual gases left in the engine at the

In Normal combustion, the flame initiated by the

spark travels across the combustion chamber in a fairly uniform manner. Under certain operating conditions the combustion deviates from its normal course leading to loss of performance and possible damage to the engine. This type of combustion may be termed as an Abnormal combustion or Knocking combustion The consequences of this Abnormal combustion process are the loss of power, recurring preignition and mechanical damage to the engine

AUTO-IGNITION Heat-release due to combustion increases the temperature and consequently the pressure, of the burned part of the mixture above those of the unburned mixture The burned part of the mixture will expand, and compress the unburned mixture adiabatically thereby increasing its pressure and temperature. This process continues as the flame front advances through the mixture and the temperature and pressure of the unburned mixture are increased further. If the temperature of the un-burnt mixture exceeds the selfignition temperature of the fuel spontaneous ignition or auto ignition occurs at various pin-point knocking. This phenomenon is called knocking. The process of auto-ignition leads towards engine knock.


In the Normal combustion the flame travels across the combustion chamber from A towards D The advancing flame front compresses the end charge BB'D farthest from the spark plug, thus raising its temperature The temperature is also increased due to heat transfer from the hot advancing flame-front. In spite of these factors if the temperature of the end charge had not reached its self-ignition temperature, the charge would not auto-ignite and the flame will advance further and consume the charge BB'D. This is the normal combustion process which is illustrated by means of the pressure-time diagram, Fig.6(b). However, if the end charge BB'D reaches its auto ignition temperature and the charge will auto ignite, leading to knocking combustion

In Fig.6(c), it is assumed that when flame has reached the

position BB', the charge ahead of it has reached critical auto ignition temperature. During the pre-flame reaction period if the flame front could move from BB' to only CC then the charge ahead of CC would auto-ignite. Because of the auto-ignition, another flame front starts traveling in the opposite direction to the main flame front When the two flame fronts collide, a severe pressure pulse is generated. This disturbance can force the walls of the combustion chambers to vibrate The pressure-time trace of such a situation is shown in Fig.l2.6(d). The impact of knock on the engine components and structure can cause engine failure and in addition the noise


The harmful effects of detonation are as follows: 1. Noise and Roughness. Knocking produces a loud pulsating noise and pressure waves. These waves which vibrates back and forth across the cylinder. The presence of vibratory motion causes crankshaft vibrations and the engine runs rough. 2. Mechanical Damage. High pressure waves generated during knocking can increase rate of wear of parts of combustion chamber. Sever erosion of piston crown , cylinder head and pitting of inlet and outlet valves may result in complete wreckage of the engine. 3. Carbon deposits. Detonation results in increased carbon deposits.

4. Increase in heat transfer. Knocking is accompanied by an increase in the rate of heat transfer to the combustion chamber walls. The minor reason is that the maximum temperature in a detonating engine is about 150C higher than in a non-detonating engine, due to rapid completion of combustion 5. Decrease in power output and efficiency. Due to increase in the rate of heat transfer the power output as well as efficiency of a detonating engine decreases.


Any factor in the design or operation of an

engine which tends to reduce the temperature of the unburned charge should reduce the possibility of knocking The following parameters which are directly or indirectly connected with temperature, pressure and density factors on the possibility of knocking is discussed below.

Density Factors

a)Compression Ratio:
Compression ratio of an engine is an

important factor which determines both the pressure and temperature at the beginning of the combustion process. Increase in compression ratio increases the pressure and temperature of the gases at the end of the compression stroke. This decreases the ignition lag of the end gas and thereby increasing the tendency for knocking

b) Mass of Inducted Charge:

A reduction in the mass of the inducted charge into the cylinder of an engine by throttling reduces both temperature and density of the charge at the time of ignition. This decreases the tendency of knocking. c) Inlet Temperature of the Mixture: Increase in the inlet temperature of the mixture makes the compression temperature higher thereby, increasing the tendency of knocking

d) Temperature of the Combustion Chamber

Walls: Temperature of the combustion chamber walls plays a predominant role in knocking. In order to prevent knocking the hot spots in the combustion chamber should be avoided. Since, the spark plug and exhaust valve are two hottest parts in the combustion chamber, the end gas should not be compressed against them

Time Factors Increasing the flame speed or increasing the duration of the ignition lag or reducing the time of exposure of the unburned mixture to autoignition condition will tend to reduce knocking
The following factors, reduce the possibility of knocking: a) Turbulence: Increasing turbulence increases the

flame speed and reduces the time available for the end charge to attain autoignition conditions thereby decreasing the tendency to knock. b) Engine Speed: An increase in engine speed increases the turbulence of the mixture considerably resulting in increased flame speed.


Travel Distance: The knocking tendency is reduced by shortening the time required for the flame front to traverse the combustion chamber

d) Engine Size: The flame requires a longer time to travel across the combustion chamber of a larger engine. Therefore, a larger engine has a greater tendency for knocking than a smaller engine since there is more time for the end gas to auto ignite e) Combustion Chamber Shape: Generally, the more compact the combustion chamber is, the shorter is the flame travel and the combustion time and hence better antiknock characteristics. Therefore, the combustion chambers are made as spherical as possible to minimize the length of the flame travel for a given volume f) Location of Spark Plug: In order to have a


The design of the combustion chamber for an SI

engine has an important influence on the engine performance and its knocking tendencies. The design involves the shape of the combustion chamber, The location of spark plug and The location of inlet and exhaust valves.


I) Smooth engine operation The aim of any engine design is to have a smooth operation and a good economy. These can be achieved by the following: a. Moderate Rate of Pressure Rise Limiting the rate of pressure rise as well as the position of the peak pressure with respect to TDC affect smooth engine operation b) Reducing the Possibility of Knocking Reduction in the possibility of knocking in an engine can be achieved by reducing the distance of the flame travel by centrally locating the spark plug . Satisfactory cooling of the spark plug and of

II. High Power Output and Thermal Efficiency This can be achieved by considering the following factors: a) A high degree of turbulence is needed to achieve a high flame front velocity. Turbulence is induced by inlet flow configuration or squish Squish is the rapid radial movement of the gas trapped in between the piston and the cylinder head . Squish can be induced in spark-ignition engines by having a bowl in piston or with a dome shaped cylinder head b. High Volumetric Efficiency More charge during the suction stroke, results in an increased power output. This can be achieved by providing ample clearance around the valve heads, Large diameter valves and straight passages with minimum pressure drop. c. Improved anti-knock characteristics Improved anti-knock characteristics permits the use of a higher compression ratio resulting in increased output and efficiency d. A Compact Combustion Chamber


Different types combustion chambers have been developed Some of them are T-Head Type L-Head Type I-Head Type or Overhead Valve F-Head Type

T-Head Type: The T-head combustion chambers were used in the early stage of engine development. This configuration provides two valves on either side of the cylinder , requiring two camshafts. Since the distance across the combustion chamber is very long, knocking tendency is high in this type of engines. From the manufacturing point of view, providing two camshafts is a disadvantage.

A modification of the T-head type of combustion chamber is the L-head type which provides the two valves on the same side of the cylinder and the valves are operated by a single camshaft. In this type , the air flow has to take two rigt angle turns to enter the cylinder. This causes a loss of velocity head and loss in turbulence level resulting in a slow combustion process.


In which both the valves are located on the cylinder head. The over head valve engine is superior to a side valve or

an L-head engine at high compression ratios. Some of the important characteristics of this type of valve arrangement are : less heat loss Less flame travel length and hence greater freedom from knock Higher volumetric efficiency from larger valves or valve lifts

The F-head type of valve arrangement is a compromise

between L-head and I-head types. Combustion chambers in which one valve is in the cylinder head and the other in the cylinder block are known as Fhead combustion chambers The main disadvantage of this type is that the inlet valve and the exhaust valve are separately actuated by two cams mounted onto camshafts driven by the crankshaft through gears.