Combustion Cycles

Revision Course

IN TR OD U C TION

During the operating cycle of an engine, events must take place at t h e c o r r e c t t i m e a n d w i th t h e c o r r e c t r e l a t i o n s h i p t o e a c h o t h e r . The relationship between all the various events is known as the E N G IN E T IM IN G . The engine timing covers when in the cycle a particular thing should happen. This includes:

• • •

The opening and closing of the intake valve. The opening and closing of the exhaust valve. The injection of the fuel on a diesel engine.

If

the

timing

of

any

of

the

above

is

not

as

set

out

in

the

manufacturer’s manual, the engine will not perform at its most efficient.

T h i s m o d u l e w i l l e xp l a i n e n g i n e c y c l e s a n d h o w t h e c o r r e c t t i m i n g is achieved on a 2 -Stroke cycle and 4 -Stroke cycle engine.

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D IE S E L E N GIN E OP E R AT IN G C YC L E S

2 - S tr o k e C yc le

A s i t s n a m e s u g g e s t s , a d i e s e l e n g i n e w o r k i n g o n t h e 2- s t r o k e principle uses two strokes of the piston (one upward stroke and one downward stroke) to complete its cycle.

A cycle is complete when the piston has finished one full duty operation and has returned back to the starting point to begin another.

T o e x p l a i n h o w t h e 2- s t r o k e d i e s e l e n g i n e w o r k s , w e m u s t p i c k a point in the cycle and follow the progress of the piston from that point.

We will consider, for our example that the piston is at the very bottom of its stroke. This position is known in all types of engines

a s B OTTOM D E A D C E NTRE and often referred to as B D C .

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I n 2- s t r o k e e n g i n e c o n s t r u c t i o n , t h e a i r f o r c o m b u s t i o n e n t e r s t h e cylinder through holes in the side of the cylinder liner. These

P ORTS are connected to the air box that is supplied with air from a charger. The exhaust leaves the cylinder unit through valves in See figure 1.

the cylinder head.

EXHAUST VALVE EXHAUST VALVE

PORTS IN CYLINDER WALL

BLOWER

AIR BOX

Figure 1

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Figure 2
• • • • • With the piston at BDC, the intake ports and the exhaust valves are open. Air is blown from the charger into the air box and through the ports in the liner. T h e a i r e n t e r i n g i s a t a h i g h e r p r e s s u r e th a n t h e g a s e s i n the cylinder. Exhaust gases from the previous cycle are pushed out

through the exhaust valves. Eventually, the cylinder is filled with clean, fresh air.

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Figure 3
• As the piston moves up the cylinder, the exhaust valves close and the piston covers the inlet ports. •

The clean air in the cylinder is compressed as the piston continues to move up the cylinder.

The air that is squeezed into a very small volume increases in temperature, to around 450°C (850°F).

Just before the piston reaches the very top of its stroke (a position known as TOP D E A D C E NTRE and often referred to a s TD C ) the fuel injector sprays diesel into the cylinder.

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Figure 4

• •

The fuel mixes with the hot air and starts to burn.

As

the

burning

continues,

the

pressure

in

the

cylinder

increases. •

The pressure pushes down on the piston, which turns the crankshaft.

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Figure 5
• When the piston is about three-quarters of the way down, the exhaust valves begin to open. • •

Exhaust gases begin to leave the cylinder.

When

the

piston

moves

lower,

the

intake

ports

are

uncovered and fresh air is again blown into the cylinder. • •

“ S C A V E N G IN G ” o f t h e e x h a u s t g a s e s t a k e s p l a c e .

When the piston is at BDC, the cycle is complete.

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You

will

see

from

the

diagrams and each

that

each

upward stoke is

stroke

is

a

C O M P R E S S IO N s t r o k e stroke.

downward

a P OWE R

To charge the cylinder with air and to remove the exhaust gases from the cylinder requires the use of air under pressure. charger takes care of both of these requirements. The

Two -stroke engines do not breathe very well.

The scavenging of

the exhaust gases from the cylinder after the power stroke is not complete (there is always some exhaust gas left in the unit). This

is due to the very short time available during which the intake ports and the exhaust valves are open at the same time for the clean air to scavenge (clean out) the entire cylinder.

The time when the inlet port (or inlet valve) and exhaust valve are open at the same time is called the V A LV E OV E RLA P .

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4 - S tr o k e C yc le As its name would suggest, the cycle of events is completed in four strokes strokes). of the piston (two upward strokes and two downward

T o e x p l a i n h o w t h e 4- s t r o k e d i e s e l e n g i n e w o r k s , w e m u s t p i c k a point in the cycle and follow the progress of the piston from that point.

We will consider, for our example that the piston is at the very top o f i t s s t r o k e ( TD C ).

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The first stroke in the cycle is downwards from TDC to BDC. i s c a l l e d t h e IN T A K E o r IN D U C T IO N s t r o k e . • The piston moves down the

This

cylinder with the intake valve open and the exhaust valve

closed. •

Low pressure is created above the piston in the cylinder.

Air rushes in to fill the partial vacuum.

Figure 6
Piston at BDC

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The second stroke in the cycle is upwards from BDC to TDC. i s c a l l e d t h e C O M P R E S S IO N s t r o k e . • The piston moves up the

This

cylinder. •

The

intake

valve

and

the

exhaust valve are closed. •

The air trapped in the cylinder is compressed giving a rise in temperature.

Just before, and through TDC, fuel is injected into the

cylinder.

Figure 7
Piston Rising On Compression Stroke And Fuel Injection

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The third stroke in the cycle is downwards from TDC to BDC. is called the P OWE R stroke. •

This

The

highly

atomized

fuel

that

has been injected comes into contact with the very hot air in the cylinder. •

The

fuel

ignites

with

the

increase in its temperature. •

As

the

fuel

and of

air the

mixture gases

burn,

expansion

occurs and the piston is pushed down the cylinder. •

The

connecting

rod

turns

the

crankshaft.

Figure 8
Fuel Burning and Piston Moving Down Cylinder

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The fourth stroke in the cycle is upwards from BDC to TDC. is called the E X HA US T stroke. •

This

As the piston reaches BDC, the exhaust valve is opened.

• •

Exhaust gases start to flow out.

The upward stroke of the piston helps to clear the cylinder of exhaust gases.

Near closes

TDC, and

the the

exhaust intake

valve valve

opens. •

When the piston reaches TDC, the cycle is complete and the unit is ready to start another cycle.

Figure 9
Piston Moving Up The Cylinder Pushing Out Exhaust Gas

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Figure 10
4-Stroke Cycle

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D IE S E L E N GIN E T IMIN G D IAGR AMS

Y o u w i l l n o w u n d e r s t a n d t h e b a s i c o p e r a t i o n o f 2- s t r o k e a n d 4stroke engines and also realize that the timing of the events is very important for efficient operation of the engine. For example,

if the inlet or exhaust valve were to open during the compression stroke of the cycle, all the developed pressure, which is required to produce the heat needed for burning the fuel, would disappear. Or if the fuel were injected when the piston was at BDC there would be no heat to ignite it.

T h e m a n u f a c t u r e r , d u r i n g t h e d e ve l o p m e n t o f t h e e n g i n e , d e c i d e d that intake and exhaust valves should be opened and closed, and the fuel injected at particular times in the cycle for that particular engine.

Although the piston moves only up and down in the cylinder, its crank rotates in a circle. The position of the piston in the cylinder

can be related to the number of degrees the crank has turned. See figure 11.

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TDC

PISTON STROKE

A

B

C

D

Figure 11
If the position of the piston in the liner is not at TD C or B D C but somewhere in between, it is termed as a number of degrees of the crankshaft rotation with reference to TD C or B D C . For example:
• • • • A – Piston at TDC B – Piston “X” degrees after TDC C – Piston 90 degrees after TDC D – Piston at BDC

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A s t h e p i s t o n s t a r t s t o m o v e up t h e c y l i n d e r , t h e p o s i t i o n o f t h e piston in the liner can be termed as: • •

A number of degrees after BDC or

A number of degrees before TDC

In the cycle, the full listing of positions of the piston are as follows:

Top Dead Centre

TDC

After Top Dead Centre

ATDC

Before Bottom Dead Centre

BBDC

Bottom Dead Centre

BDC

After Bottom Dead Centre

ABDC

Before Top Dead Centre

BTDC

By using this terminology, a graphical representation of the valve timing can be made.

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2 - S tr o k e C yc le Ti m i ng D i a g r a m

FUEL INJECTION STARTS

TDC

C OMP R E S S ION

P OWE R

103°

EXHAUST VALVE CLOSES

EXHAUST VALVE OPENS
61° 77°

45°

45°

AI R INTAKE PORTS OPEN

AIR INTAKE PORTS CLOSE

BDC

Figure 12
2-Stroke Timing Diagram

The table in Figure 13 shows the timing of the valves and injection of fuel.

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Item
Piston Inlet Valve Exhaust Valve

Operation
Stopped Open

Position
BDC BDC

Comment
Scavenging/Charging Scavenging/Charging Scavenging/Charging

Open

BDC

Piston

Moving up cylinder

Scavenging/Charging

Inlet Valve Exhaust Valve Fuel Injector

Closed

45

0

ABDC

Scavenging

Closed

61

0

ABDC

Compression

Injection

25

0

BTDC

Combustion begins

Piston

Stopped Moving down cylinder

TDC

Combustion continues Power Stroke

Piston

Exhaust Valve Inlet Valve Piston Open 77

0

BBDC

Exhaust leaving cylinder Air enters cylinder Scavenging

Open Stopped

45

0

BBDC

BDC

Figure 13
Different engines, even models from the same Manufacturer may have timing different from that laid out in the table above.

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The numbers chosen are only indications of the timing to be found. T h e M a n u f a c t u r e r ’ s m a n u a l w i l l h a ve t h e v a l v e a n d i n j e c t i o n t i m i n g listed for each particular engine.

4 - S tr o k e C yc le Ti m i ng D i a g r a m A four -stroke cycle engine requires four strokes of the piston to complete each combustion cycle. See Figure 14.

TDC 1

EXHAUST

3
INDUCTION

COMPRESSION

4

POWER

2

BDC

Figure 14

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Duri ng the four strokes of the combustion cycle, various events occur. These are shown in Figure 15.
TDC

BDC

Figure 15

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From the diagram shown in Figure 15, you will notice that the inlet valve is opened before the piston reaches TD C . cylinder scavenging. The period when the By opening the

inlet valve before the exhaust valve closes helps to give good inlet and exhaust

valves are open is called V A LV E OV E RLA P . When the piston moves down the cylinder on the induction stroke, we would expect that the amount of air coming into the cylinder would equal the space available above the piston.

However, because the air has weight, it needs to have a force exerted on it to start it moving into the cylinder. The piston

moving down the cylinder and creating a partial vacuum in the cylinder produces the force needed. The air at a higher

atmospheric pressure now moves into the lower pressure area of the cylinder.

The air cannot start moving until the vacuum has been produced, s o t h e r e i s a d e la y b e t w e e n t h e p i s t o n m o v i n g d o w n a n d t h e a i r entering the cylinder. This is known as GA S LA G.

At high piston speeds, the lag can have a serious effect on the amount of air entering the cylinder for combustion.

To help reduce the effect of gas lag, the inlet valve is kept open for a period after BDC. Figure 16 shows a typical timing diagram for a four -stroke engine.

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Figure 17

Figure 17 lists the timing of the valves and injection of the fuel for the diagram shown in figure 1 5.

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Item
Piston Inlet Valve Exhaust Valve Piston Exhaust Valve Piston Inlet Valve Piston Injector Piston Exhaust Valve Piston Inlet Vale Piston

Operation
Stopped Open Open Moving down Closes Moving up Closes Moving up Starts injection Moving down Opens Moving up Opens

Position
TDC TDC TDC

Comment
Scavenging Scavenging Scavenging Induction stroke

10

0

ATDC

Induction Compression stroke begins Induction complete Compression starts

BDC 43
0

ABDC

29

0

BTDC

Fuel enters unit Power stroke

46

0

BBDC

Exhaust starts to leave cylinder Exhaust stroke

13

0

BTDC

Scavenging begins Scavenging

TDC

Figure 17
The maximum push on the crankshaft is when the crank is at 900 to t h e co n n e c t i n g r o d . The piston stroke is 90% complete when the crank is 450 BBDC, so by opening the exhaust valve at 460 BBDC does not cause a great loss in power, as the effective stroke is nearly complete. See figure 18.

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TDC

APPROXIMATELY 90% OF PISTON STROKE IS COMPLETE WHEN CRANK IS 0 45 BBDC

1

2

3

PISTON STROKE

4

CONNECTING ROD
5 6 7 8 BDC 1 2 3

MAXIMUM CRANK EFFORT AT THIS POINT

4

5

6 7 8

Figure 18

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FU E L IN JE C TION

Compressing the air charge inside the cylinder of the diesel engine raises the temperature of the air. At the TD C , the pressure and

the temperature will be at the maximum value.

I f t h e f u e l i s i n j e c t e d a t T D C , i t w i l l n o t st a r t t o i g n i t e u n t i l t h e piston is already moving down on the power stroke, since it will take time to come up to a temperature high enough to ignite it.

If the fuel is injected too early, ignition will occur before the piston has reached TD C . This early ignition will cause heavy knocking

and may cause severe mechanical damage to the engine.

The P OIN T OF IN JE C T ION (P OI) is a carefully chosen position in the combustion cycle when the fuel is injected into the cylinder.

Two main factors that will determi ne the point of injection are: • •

s e lf i g ni ti o n te mp e ra ture

delay peri od

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S elf-Ignition Temperature (S IT)

If a mixture of air and fuel is heated gradually in a container, a certain temperature will be reached at which the reaction speed will become so fast that some of the mixture will sel f-i gni te. This is called the i gni ti on tem perature of the mixture. For diesel fuel, the SIT is approximately 3000C. It

will burst into flame and cause the entire mixture to burn rapidly.

For a specific fuel, the SIT always has the same value.

D elay P eriod

The delay period is the time taken from when the fuel is injected into the cylinder until the SIT is reached.

The engine manufacturer takes all these factors into account and then calculates the most efficient point of injection. usually between 200 and 250 BTDC. This is

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T IMIN G MAR K S

To ensure that the valves open and close and that the fuel is injected at the right moment in the operating cycle, the valves and the fuel pump are TIMED by gearing to the crankshaft.

CAMSHAFT GEAR

FUEL INJECTION PUMP AND GOVERNOR DRIVE

IDLER GEAR

CRANKSHAFT GEAR

Figure 19

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Figure 20

To ensure that the timing is always reassembled in the correct relationship after maintenance, each of the gearwheels is marked with T IMIN G MAR K S (ME S H MAR K S ).

To assist in maintenance during valve tappet setting and fuel pump timing, the flywheels of most engines are marked with the position of No.1 cylinder TDC.

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The timing marks are found on the outer circumference of the flywheel. A pointer is fixed to the flywheel housing. When the

pointer lines up with the flywheel timing mark, No.1 piston is at TDC.

Note An engine working on the four -stroke cycle has the piston at TDC twice in the cycle, once on the compression stroke a n d o n c e a t t h e e n d o f t h e e xh a u s t s t r o k e .

FLYWHEEL MARKING

Figure 21

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On some Caterpillar engines, TDC is found by inserting a bolt through the f l y w h e e l- h o u s i n g and into a specially drilled and

tapped hole in the flywheel. No.1 piston is at TD C.

When the bolt can be screwed in,

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