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Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

First Advisor

Scott Andrew Miers


In-cylinder pressure transducers have been used for decades to record combustion pressure inside a running engine. However, due to the extreme operating environment, transducer design and installation must be considered in order to minimize measurement error. One such error is caused by thermal shock, where the pressure transducer experiences a high heat flux that can distort the pressure transducer diaphragm and also change the crystal sensitivity.

This research focused on investigating the effects of thermal shock on in-cylinder pressure transducer data quality using a 2.0L, four-cylinder, spark-ignited, direct-injected, turbo-charged GM engine. Cylinder four was modified with five ports to accommodate pressure transducers of different manufacturers. They included an AVL GH14D, an AVL GH15D, a Kistler 6125C, and a Kistler 6054AR. The GH14D, GH15D, and 6054AR were M5 size transducers. The 6125C was a larger, 6.2mm transducer. Note that both of the AVL pressure transducers utilized a PH03 flame arrestor. Sweeps of ignition timing (spark sweep), engine speed, and engine load were performed to study the effects of thermal shock on each pressure transducer. The project consisted of two distinct phases which included experimental engine testing as well as simulation using a commercially available software package. A comparison was performed to characterize the quality of the data between the actual cylinder pressure and the simulated results. This comparison was valuable because the simulation results did not include thermal shock effects.

All three sets of tests showed the peak cylinder pressure was basically unaffected by thermal shock. Comparison of the experimental data with the simulated results showed very good correlation.

The spark sweep was performed at 1300 RPM and 3.3 bar NMEP and showed that the differences between the simulated results (no thermal shock) and the experimental data for the indicated mean effective pressure (IMEP) and the pumping mean effective pressure (PMEP) were significantly less than the published accuracies. All transducers had an IMEP percent difference less than 0.038% and less than 0.32% for PMEP. Kistler and AVL publish that the accuracy of their pressure transducers are within plus or minus 1% for the IMEP (AVL 2011; Kistler 2011). In addition, the difference in average exhaust absolute pressure between the simulated results and experimental data was the greatest for the two Kistler pressure transducers. The location and lack of flame arrestor are believed to be the cause of the increased error.

For the engine speed sweep, the torque output was held constant at 203 Nm (150 ft-lbf) from 1500 to 4000 RPM. The difference in IMEP was less than 0.01% and the PMEP was less than 1%, except for the AVL GH14D which was 5% and the AVL GH15DK which was 2.25%. A noticeable error in PMEP appeared as the load increased during the engine speed sweeps, as expected.

The load sweep was conducted at 2000 RPM over a range of NMEP from 1.1 to 14 bar. The difference in IMEP values were less 0.08% while the PMEP values were below 1% except for the AVL GH14D which was 1.8% and the AVL GH15DK which was at 1.25%.

In-cylinder pressure transducer data quality was effectively analyzed using a combination of experimental data and simulation results. Several criteria can be used to investigate the impact of thermal shock on data quality as well as determine the best location and thermal protection for various transducers.