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The fuel is delivered by the fuel pumps to the fuel injectors or fuel

valves. For the fuel to burn completely at the correct time it must
be broken up into tiny droplets in a process known as atomisation.
These tiny droplets should penetrate far enough into the
combustion space so that they mix with the oxygen. The
temperature of the droplets rise rapidly as they absorb the heat
energy from the hot air in the cylinder, and they ignite and burn
before they can hit the relatively cold surface of the liner and
piston.

Fuel injectors achieve this by making use of a spring loaded


needle valve. The fuel under pressure from the fuel pump is fed
down the injector body to a chamber in the nozzle just above
where the needle valve is held hard against its seat by a strong
spring. As the fuel pump plunger rises in the barrel, pressure
builds up in the chamber, acting on the underside of the needle as
shown. When this force overcomes the downward force exerted
by the spring, the needle valve starts to open. The fuel now acts on
the seating area of the valve, and increases the lift.
As this happens fuel flows into the space under the needle and is
forced through the small holes in the nozzle where it emerges as
an "atomised spray".
At the end of delivery, the pressure drops sharply and the spring
closes the needle valve smartly.
Older loop scavenged engines may have a single injector mounted centrally in the cylinder
head. Because the exhaust valve is in the centre of the cylinder head on modern uniflow
scavenged engines the fuel valves (2 or 3) are arranged around the periphery of the head.
The pressure at which the injector operates can be adjusted by adjusting the loading on the
spring. The pressure at which the injectors operate vary depending on the engine, but can be as
high as 540bar.
Some injectors have internal cooling passages in them extending into the nozzle through
which cooling water is circulated. This is to prevent overheating and burning of the nozzle tip.
Injectors on modern 2 stroke crosshead engines do not have internal water cooling passages.
They are cooled by a combination of the intensive bore cooling in the cylinder head being
close to the valve pockets and by the fuel which is recirculated through the injector when the
follower is on the base of the cam or when the engine is stopped.
As well as cooling the injector, recirculating the fuel
when the engine is stopped keeps the fuel at the correct
viscosity for injection by preventing it from cooling
down.
The animation opposite shows the principle on which one
system operates.

Fuel injectors must be kept in good condition to maintain optimum efficiency, and to prevent
conditions arising which could lead to damage within the cylinder. Injectors should be
changed in line with manufacturers recommendations, overhauled and tested. Springs can
weaken with repeated operation leading to the injector opening at a lower pressure than
designed. The needle valve and seat can wear which together with worn nozzle holes will lead
to incorrect atomisation and dribbling.