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Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering–Engineering Mechanics (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

First Advisor

Jeffrey Donald Naber


The capability to detect combustion in a diesel engine has the potential of being an important control feature to meet increasingly stringent emission regulations, develop alternative combustion strategies, and use of biofuels. In this dissertation, block mounted accelerometers were investigated as potential feedback sensors for detecting combustion characteristics in a high-speed, high pressure common rail (HPCR), 1.9L diesel engine. Accelerometers were positioned in multiple placements and orientations on the engine, and engine testing was conducted under motored, single and pilot-main injection conditions. Engine tests were conducted at varying injection timings, engine loads, and engine speeds to observe the resulting time and frequency domain changes of the cylinder pressure and accelerometer signals. The frequency content of the cylinder pressure based signals and the accelerometer signals between 0.5 kHz and 6 kHz indicated a strong correlation with coherence values of nearly 1.

The accelerometers were used to produce estimated combustion signals using the Frequency Response Functions (FRF) measured from the frequency domain characteristics of the cylinder pressure signals and the response of the accelerometers attached to the engine block. When compared to the actual combustion signals, the estimated combustion signals produced from the accelerometer response had Root Mean Square Errors (RMSE) between 7% and 25% of the actual signals peak value. Weighting the FRF’s from multiple test conditions along their frequency axis with the coherent output power reduced the median RMSE of the estimated combustion signals and the 95th percentile of RMSE produced from each test condition. The RMSE’s of the magnitude based combustion metrics including peak cylinder pressure, MPG, peak ROHR, and work estimated from the combustion signals produced by the accelerometer responses were between 15% and 50% of their actual value. The MPG measured from the estimated pressure gradient shared a direct relationship to the actual MPG. The location based combustion metrics such as the location of peak values and burn durations were capable of RMSE measurements as low as 0.9°. Overall, accelerometer based combustion sensing system was capable of detecting combustion and providing feedback regarding the in cylinder combustion process