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Common rail direct fuel injection is a modern variant of direct fuel injection system for petrol and diesel engines. On diesel engines, it features a high-pressure (over 1,000 bar/15,000 psi) fuel rail feeding individual solenoid valves, as opposed to low-pressure fuel pump feeding unit injectors (Pumpe/Dse or pump nozzles). Thirdgeneration common rail diesels now feature piezoelectric injectors for increased precision, with fuel pressures up to 1,800 bar/26,000 psi. In gasoline engines, it is used in gasoline direct injection engine technology. Solenoid or piezoelectric valves make possible fine electronic control over the fuel injection time and quantity, and the higher pressure that the common rail technology makes available provides better fuelatomisation. In order to lower engine noise, the engine's electronic control unit can inject a small amount of diesel just before the main injection event ("pilot" injection), thus reducing its explosiveness and vibration, as well as optimising injection timing and quantity for variations in fuel quality, cold starting and so on. Some advanced common rail fuel systems perform as many as five injections per stroke. Common rail engines require very short (< 10 second) or no heating-up time at all, dependent on ambient temperature, and produce lower engine noise and emissions than older systems. Diesel engines have historically used various forms of fuel injection. Two common types include the unit injection system and the distributor/inline pump systems (See diesel engine and unit injector for more information). While these older systems provided accurate fuel quantity and injection timing control, they were limited by several factors: They were cam driven, and injection pressure was proportional to engine speed. This typically meant that the highest injection pressure could only be achieved at the highest engine speed and the maximum achievable injection pressure decreased as engine speed decreased. This relationship is true with all pumps, even those used on common rail systems; with the unit or distributor systems, however, the injection pressure is tied to the instantaneous pressure of a single pumping event with no accumulator, and thus the relationship is more prominent and troublesome. They were limited in the number and timing of injection events that could be commanded during a single combustion event. While multiple injection events are possible with these older systems, it is much more difficult and costly to achieve. For the typical distributor/inline system, the start of injection occurred at a pre-determined pressure (often referred to as: pop pressure) and ended at a pre-determined pressure. This characteristic resulted from "dummy" injectors in the cylinder head which opened and closed at pressures determined by the spring preload applied to the plunger in the injector. Once the pressure in the injector reached a predetermined level, the plunger would lift and injection would start.

In common rail systems, a high-pressure pump stores a reservoir of fuel at high pressure up to and above 2,000 bars (29,000 psi). The term "common rail" refers to the fact that all of the fuel injectors are supplied by a common fuel rail which is nothing more than a pressure accumulator where the fuel is stored at high pressure.

This accumulator supplies multiple fuel injectors with high-pressure fuel. This simplifies the purpose of the high-pressure pump in that it only has to maintain a commanded pressure at a target (either mechanically or electronically controlled). The fuel injectors are typically ECU-controlled. When the fuel injectors are electrically activated, a hydraulic valve (consisting of a nozzle and plunger) is mechanically or hydraulically opened and fuel is sprayed into the cylinders at the desired pressure. Since the fuel pressure energy is stored remotely and the injectors are electrically actuated, the injection pressure at the start and end of injection is very near the pressure in the accumulator (rail), thus producing a square injection rate. If the accumulator, pump and plumbing are sized properly, the injection pressure and rate will be the same for each of the multiple injection events.


An engine has valves that let the air-fuel mixture into the combustion chamber to be burned and then draw out the exhaust gas after the combustion. A conventional engine has one intake valve to let in the air-fuel mixture and one exhaust valve to let out the exhaust gases. But the 4-valve engine has two intake and two exhaust valves. Just like having two doors lets more people enter and leave a room in a given amount of time than one door and more exits make for a more efficient flow of people, four valves is better than two. Four valves give an engine steadier low-speed performance and a better acceleration feeling. Thats why most race engines and high-performance engines have four valves. For example, Yamahas YZR-M1 MotoGP race machine has four valves.


Overhead cam (OHC) valvetrain configurations place the engine camshaft within the cylinder heads, above the combustion chambers, and drive the valves or lifters in a more direct manner compared to overhead valves (OHV) and pushrods. Compared to OHV pushrod (or I-Head) systems with the same number of valves the reciprocating components of the OHC system are fewer and have a lower total mass. Though the system that drives the cams may become more complex, most engine manufacturers easily accept that added complexity in trade for better engine performance and greater design flexibility. Another performance advantage is gained as a result of the better optimized port configurations made possible with overhead camshaft designs. With no intrusive pushrods the overhead camshaft cylinder head design can use straighter ports of more advantageous crossection and length. The OHC system can be driven using the same methods as an OHV system, which include using a rubber/kevlar toothedtiming belt, chain, or in less common cases, gears. In conjunction with multiple (3, 4 or 5) valves per cylinder, many OHC engines today employ variable valve timing to improve efficiency and power. OHC also inherently allows for greater engine speeds over comparable cam-in-block designs, as a result of having lower valvetrain mass. There are two overhead camshaft layouts: single overhead camshaft ("SOHC"), and double (or dual) overhead camshaft ("DOHC").

Surface ignition is ignition of the fuel-air charge by any hot surface other than the spark discharge prior to the arrival of the normal flame front. It may occur before the spark ignites the charge (preignition) or after normal ignition (postignition) Surface Ignition is ignition of the fuel-air mixture by a hot spot on the combustion chamber walls such as an overheated valve or spark plug, or glowing combustion-chamber deposit: i.e., by any means other than the normal spark discharge. Following surface ignition, a flame develops at each surface-ignition location and starts to propagate across the chamber in an analogous manner to what occurs with normal spark-ignition


In a stratified charge engine, the fuel is injected into the cylinder just before ignition. This allows for higher compression ratios without "knock," and leaner air/fuel mixtures than in conventional internal combustion engines. Conventionally, a four-stroke (petrol or gasoline) Otto cycle engine is fuelled by drawing a mixture of air and fuel into the combustion chamber during the intake stroke. This produces a homogeneous charge: a homogeneous mixture of air and fuel, which is ignited by a spark plug at a predetermined moment near the top of the compression stroke. In a homogeneous charge system, the air/fuel ratio is kept very close to stoichiometric. A stoichiometric mixture contains the exact amount of air necessary for a complete combustion of the fuel. This gives stable combustion, but places an upper limit on the engine's efficiency: any attempt to improve fuel economy by running a lean mixture with a homogeneous charge results in unstable combustion; this impacts on power and emissions, notably of nitrogen oxides or NOx. If the Otto cycle is abandoned, however, and fuel is injected directly into the combustion-chamber during the compression stroke, the petrol engine is liberated from a number of its limitations. First, a higher mechanical compression ratio (or, with supercharged engines, maximum combustion pressure) may be used for better thermodynamic efficiency. Since fuel is not present in the combustion chamber until virtually the point at which combustion is required to begin, there is no risk of preignition or engine knock. The engine may also run on a much leaner overall air/fuel ratio, using stratified charge. Combustion can be problematic if a lean mixture is present at the spark-plug. However, fueling a petrol engine directly allows more fuel to be directed towards the spark-plug than elsewhere in the combustion-chamber. This results in a stratified charge: one in which the air/fuel ratio is not homogeneous throughout the combustion-chamber, but varies in a controlled (and potentially quite complex) way across the volume of the cylinder. A relatively rich air/fuel mixture is directed to the spark-plug using multi-hole injectors. This mixture is sparked, giving a strong, even and predictable flame-front. This in turn results in a high quality combustion of the much weaker mixture elsewhere in the cylinder. Direct fuelling of petrol engines is rapidly becoming the norm, as it offers considerable advantages over port-fuelling (in which the fuel injectors are placed in the intake ports, giving homogeneous charge), with the only drawbacks being increase injector cost and complexity, higher fuel pressure requirements, carbon build up on the back of the intake valve due to the lack of gasoline passing by the intake valve to act as a cleaning agent for the valve on traditional multiport injection designs. Powerful electronic management systems mean that there is not even a significant cost penalty. With the further impetus of tightening emissions legislation, the motor industry in Europe and North America has now switched completely to direct fuelling for the new petrol engines it is introducing. It is worth comparing contemporary directly-fuelled petrol engines with direct-injection diesels. Petrol can burn faster than diesel fuel, allowing higher maximum engine speeds and thus greater maximum power for sporting engines. Diesel fuel, on the other hand, has a higher energy density, and in combination with higher combustion pressures can deliver very strong torque and high thermodynamic efficiency for more 'normal' road vehicles.