Automotive Systems

Formerly Automotive Systems I

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Engine Performance


The compression ratio of an engine is a measurement of how much the air-fuel charge is compressed in the engine cylinder. It is calculated by dividing the volume of one cylinder with the piston at BDC by the volume with the piston TDC (fig. 2-25). One should note that the volume in the cylinder at TDC is called the clearance volume.

For example. suppose that an engine cylinder has a volume of 80 cubic inches with the piston at BDC and a volume of 10 cubic inches with the piston at TDC. The compression ratio in this cylinder is 8 to 1, determined by dividing 80 cubic inches by 10 cubic inches; that is, the air-fuel mixture is compressed from 80 to 10 cubic inches or to one eighth of its original volume.

Two major advantages of increasing compression ratio are that power and economy of the engine improve without added weight or size. The improvements come about because with higher compression ratio the air-fuel mixture is squeezed more. This means a higher initial pressure at the start of the power stroke. As a result. there is more force on the piston for a greater part of the power stroke; therefore, more power is obtained from each power stroke.

Increasing the compression ratio, however, brings up some problems. Fuel can withstand only a certain amount of squeezing without knocking. Knocking is the sudden burning of the air-fuel mixture that causes a quick increase in pressure and a rapping or knocking noise. The fuel chemists have overcome knocking by creating antiknock fuels. (Antiknock fuels are described in a later module).

Oxygen must be present if combustion is to occur in the cylinder, and since air is the source of the supply of oxygen used in engines, the problem arises of getting the proper amount of air to support combustion. This factor is known as the air-fuel ratio. A gasoline engine normally operates at intermediate speeds on a 15 to 1 ratio; that is, 15 pounds of air to 1 pound of gasoline.

Figure 2-25.—Compression ratio.
Published by SweetHaven Publishing Services
Based upon a text provided by the U.S. Navy

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