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Lecture-16

Prepared under
QIP-CD Cell Project

Internal Combustion Engines

Ujjwal K Saha, Ph.D.

Department of Mechanical Engineering

Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati


1

Introduction
The

combustion in a spark ignition


engine is initiated by an electrical
discharge across the electrodes of a
spark plug, which usually occurs from 100
to 300 before TDC depending upon the
chamber geometry and operating
conditions.
The ignition system provides a spark of

sufficient intensity to ignite the air-fuel


mixture at the predetermined position in
the engine cycle under all speeds and
load conditions.
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Introduction contd.
In a four-stroke, four cylinder engine
operating at 3000 rpm, individual cylinders
require a spark at every second revolution,
and this necessitates the frequency of firing
to be (3000/2) x 4 = 6000 sparks per minute
or 100 sparks per second. This shows that
there is an extremely short interval of time
between firing impulses.

Introduction contd.
The internal combustion engines are

not capable of starting by themselves.


Engines fitted in trucks, tractors and other
industrial
applications
are
usually
cranked by a small starting engine or by
compressed air.
Automotive

engines
are
usually
cranked by a small electric motor, which
is better known as a starter motor, or
simply a starter. The starter motor for SI
and CI engines operates on the same
principle as a direct current electric
motor.
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Ignition System -Requirements


It should provide a good spark between the
electrodes of the plugs at the correct timing

The duration of the spark must be long enough


with sufficient energy to ensure that ignition of the
mixture has a high chance of occurring

The system must distribute this high voltage to


each of the spark plugs at the exact time in
every cycle, i.e., it must have in it a distributing
device

It should function efficiently over the entire


range of engine speed

It should be light, effective and reliable in


service

Glow plug ignition


One of the early ignition system employed

was the glow plug ignition used in some


kinds of simple engines like model aircraft.

A glow plug is a coil of nichrome wire that

will glow red hot when an electric current is


passed through it. This ignites the air-fuel
mixture upon contact. The coil is electrically
activated from engine starting, and once it
runs, it will retain sufficient residual heat on
each stroke due to heat generated on the
previous stroke. Glow plugs are also used to
aid starting of diesel engines.
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Contact ignition
The other method used was the contact

ignition. It consisted of a copper or brass


rod that protruded into the cylinder, and
was heated using an external source.
Heat conduction kept the end of the rod
hot, and ignition takes place when the
combustible mixture comes into its
contact. Naturally this was very inefficient
as the fuel would not be ignited in a
controlled
manner.
This
type
of
arrangement was quickly superseded by
spark ignition.
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Modern ignition systems


The development of high speed, high

compression internal combustion engine


requires a reliable high-speed ignition
system. This is met by a high-tension ignition
system that uses a spark plug as the source
of ignition. The electrical energy to the spark
plug is supplied by one of the following
systems and is termed accordingly.
1.
2.
3.

Battery ignition system


Magneto ignition system
Electronic ignition system
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Battery ignition system


Coil
ignition
switch

Ammeter

Secondary
winding
Distributor contacts

Primary
winding

1
2

Contact
breaker

3
capacitor
Distributor

Battery

4
Spark plugs

Contact-breaker
operating cam

Battery ignition system


The primary circuit consists of the battery,

ammeter, ignition switch, primary coil


winding, capacitor, and breaker points. The
functions of these components are:
Battery

: provides the power to run the system

Ignition switch

: allows the driver to turn the system on and off

Primary coil

: produces the magnetic field to create the


high voltage in the secondary coil

Breaker points

: a mechanical switch that acts as the


triggering mechanism
: protects the points from burning out

Capacitor

10

Battery ignition system


The

secondary circuit converts magnetic


induction into high voltage electricity to jump
across the spark plug gap, firing the mixture at the
right time. The functions of the components are:
Secondary
coil
Coil wire
Distributor
cap

: the part of the coil that creates the high voltage


electricity
: a highly insulated wire to take the high voltage to
the distributor cap
: a plastic cap which goes on top of the distributor,
to hold the high tension wires in the right order

Rotor

: spins around on the top of the distributor shaft,


and distributes the spark to the right spark plug

Spark plug
leads
Spark plugs

: another highly insulated wire that takes the high


voltage from the cap to the plugs
: take the electricity from the wires, and give it an
air gap in the combustion chamber to jump across,
to light the mixture

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Magneto ignition system


The

high powered, high speed spark


ignition engines like aircraft, sports and
racing cars use magneto ignition system.
The basic components of a magneto ignition
system consist of a magneto, breaker points,
capacitor, ignition switch, distributor, spark
plug leads, and spark plugs.
Magneto can either be rotating armature

type or rotating magneto type. In the former,


the armature consisting of the primary and
secondary windings all rotate between the
poles of a stationary magneto, while in the
second type, the magneto revolves and the
windings are kept stationary.
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Magneto ignition system


(with rotating magnets)
Distributor

Spark plugs

Coil

Cam
Primary winding
Secondary winding
Rotating magnet (two-pole)
Contact- breaker

Capacitor

Ignition
switch

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Electric Circuit
Uses a changing
magnetic field to
generate current
in primary and
secondary
circuits

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Magnetic Flux
As magnet
approaches,
induces magnetic
flux in armature
Breaker points close
and current
dissipates through
primary circuit

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Spark Fires
After magnet rotates
past armature flux
reverses direction,
and the breaker
points open
Change in magnetic
flux produces 170
volts in primary circuit
Induces 10,000 volts
in secondary circuit,
firing spark plug
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Breaker Points

Crankshaft rotation
causes mechanical
actuation of breaker
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Electronic ignition system


The disadvantage of the mechanical

system is that it requires regular


adjustment to compensate for wear, and
the opening of the contact breakers,
which is responsible for spark timing, is
subject to mechanical variations.
In addition, the spark voltage is also

dependent on contact effectiveness,


and poor sparking may lower the engine
efficiency. Electronic ignition system has
solved these problems.

18

Electronic ignition system


Ignition coil

Electronic
control unit
Spark plugs

Switch

1
2
Sensor coil

3
4

Battery
Armature

Distributor

19

Electronic ignition system contd.


In this system, the contact breaker points

are replaced by an angular sensor of some


kind - either optical, where a vaned rotor
breaks a light beam, or more commonly
using a hall effect sensor, which responds to
a rotating magnet mounted on a suitable
shaft.
The sensor output processed by a suitable

circuitry is then used to trigger a switching


device such as a thyristor, which switches a
large flow of current through the coil.

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Electronic ignition system contd.


The rest of the system (distributor and spark

plugs) remains the same as that of the


mechanical system. The lack of moving parts
compared with the mechanical system leads
to greater reliability and longer service
intervals. In some older cars, it was usually
possible to retrofit an electronic ignition system
in place of the mechanical one.
Ignition coil

Electronic
control unit
Spark plugs

Switch

1
2
Sensor coil

3
4

Battery
Armature

Distributor

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Spark Plugs
The spark plug ignites
the
air-fuel
mixture
inside the cylinder. This
occurs
when
high
voltage, triggered at
precisely
the
right
instant, bridges the gap
between the center
and
the
ground
electrodes.
It
also
provides a secondary
purpose of helping to
channel some heat
away from the cylinder.

Terminal

Insulator
Electrode

Shell

Reach
Gap
Ground
electrode
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A cold plug has the


advantage of quicker heat
transfer. It has a shorter
insulator,
and
thereby
allowing heat to travel a
shorter distance.

(a) Cold plug

A hot plug has a longer


insulator, and therefore, heat
travel path from firing tip to
electrode is longer. This
enables it to operate at
higher
temperature
to
compensate for the cooler
running engine.

(b) Ho t plug

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Firing Order
Firing order indicates the sequence or
order in which the firing impulses occur in a
multi-cylinder spark ignition engine. It is
chosen to give a uniform torque, and
hence a uniform distribution of firing per
revolution of the engine.

This is naturally dictated by the engine


design, the cylinder arrangement and the
crankshaft design. The firing order be such
that there must always be a proper
balance so as to minimize the engine
vibration.

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Firing Order
As for example, in a four-stroke, four-

cylinder engine, the firing or the ignition in


all the cylinders has to be completed in
two revolutions of the crankshaft. With
crank throws at 1800, the cylinders 1 and
4 will reach TDC at the same time. Now, if
the firing interval is made by 1800, the
firing in cylinder-1 cannot be followed by
cylinder-4. For the same reason, the firing
of cylinder-2 cannot be followed by
cylinder-3. As such, the possible
sequence is 1-2-4-3 or 1-3-4-2.
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Firing Order
Consider another example of four-

stroke, six-cylinder inline engine, where


cranks are set at 1200, and with the
cylinders 1-6, 2-5 and 3-4 will reach TDC
simultaneously. Here, the possible
sequence is 1-5-3-6-2-4 or 1-4-2-6-3-5.
For radial engines, the cylinders are
usually numbered consecutively. Thus,
for a seven-cylinder radial engine, the
sequence is 1,3,5,7,2,4,6.

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References
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YR (1992), Engineering Thermodynamics, Addison
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Wisley.

13. Srinivasan S, (2001), Automotive Engines, Tata McGraw Hill.


14. Stone R, (1992), Internal Combustion Engines, The Macmillan Press Limited, London.
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