Diesel Ignition Process
Diesel Ignition Process
Diesel engines and HCCI (Homogeneous charge compression ignition) engines, rely solely on heat and pressure created by the engine in its compression process for ignition. The compression level that occurs is usually twice or more than a gasoline engine. Diesel engines take in air only, and shortly before peak compression, spray a small quantity of diesel fuel into the cylinder via a fuel injector that allows the fuel to instantly ignite. HCCI type engines take in both air and fuel, but continue to rely on an unaided auto-combustion process, due to higher pressures and heat. This is also why diesel and HCCI engines are more susceptible to cold-starting issues, although they run just as well in cold weather once started. Light duty diesel engines with indirect injection in automobiles and light trucks employ glowplugs (or other pre-heating: see Cummins ISB#6BT) that pre-heat the combustion chamber just before starting to reduce no-start conditions in cold weather. Most diesels also have a battery and charging system; nevertheless, this system is secondary and is added by manufacturers as a luxury for the ease of starting, turning fuel on and off (which can also be done via a switch or mechanical apparatus), and for running auxiliary electrical components and accessories. Most new engines rely on electrical and electronic engine control units (ECU) that also adjust the combustion process to increase efficiency and reduce emissions.
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The necessary high voltage
The necessary high voltage, typically 10,000 volts, is supplied by an induction coil or transformer. The induction coil is a fly-back system, using interruption of electrical primary system current through some type of synchronized interrupter. The interrupter can be either contact points or a power transistor. The problem with this type of ignition is that as RPM increases the available of electrical energy decreases. This is especially as problem since the amount of energy needed to ignite a more dense fuel mixture is higher. The result was often a high rpm misfire.
Capacitor discharge ignition was developed. It produces a rising voltage that is sent to the spark plug. CD system voltages can reach 60,000 volts.19 CD ignitions use step-up transformers. The step-up transformer uses energy stored in a capacitance to generate electric spark. With either system, a mechanical or electrical control system provides a carefully timed high-voltage to the proper cylinder. This spark, via the spark plug, ignites the air-fuel mixture in the engine's cylinders.
While gasoline internal combustion engines are much easier to start in cold weather than diesel engines, they can still have cold weather starting problems under extreme conditions. For years the solution was to park the car in heated areas. In some parts of the world the oil was actually drained and heated over night and returned to the engine for cold starts. In the early 1950s the gasoline Gasifier unit was developed, where, on cold weather starts, raw gasoline was diverted to the unit where part of the fuel was burned causing the other part to become a hot vapor sent directly to the intake valve manifold. This unit was quite popular until electric engine block heaters became standard on gasoline engines sold in cold climates.20