Engine downsizing is considered an effective method to reduce emissions and improve fuel efficiency. The basic concept is simple: replace a larger engine with something that displaces less and, typically, packs a turbocharger to make up for any lost power. One impediment to engine downsizing is low-speed preignition (LSPI). Preignition occurs when the combustion chambers ignites prior to the spark event. This causes advanced combustion timing which can lead to heavy engine knock and catastrophic engine damage. By using cooled exhaust gas recirculation and advanced ignition systems, Southwest Research Institute (SWRI) has demonstrated that LSPI can be suppressed in downsized, turbo'd engines. That's not all, though: SWRI hopes to focus on fuels and lubricants to quell LSPI entirely.

SWRI will launch a consortium – the Preignition Prevention Program – focused on eliminating LSPI through advancements in fuels and lubricants. Joining the consortium comes at a cost, but it's open to a wide range of companies including, original equipment manufacturers ($225,000), engine component suppliers ($175,000) and those in the fuel and lubricants industries ($225,000). The consortium's initial meeting is scheduled for January 2011 and any patents developed throughout the course of the program will be accessible to all consortium members. Hit the jump for more on LSPI and its effect on engine downsizing.

[Source: Southwest Research Institute]


PRESS RELEASE

SwRI to launch Preignition Prevention Program (P3) Consortium


San Antonio - Oct. 6, 2010 - Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) will launch a new consortium focusing on fuels and lubricants to discover ways to suppress low-speed preignition (LSPI), a condition that causes heavy engine knock and can seriously damage engine parts or cause complete engine failure.

"The P3 Consortium will help us gain an understanding of fundamental issues of low-speed preignition. We are going to investigate interactions of fuels and lubricants to understand what role physical and chemical properties play in low-speed preignition," said Chris Chadwell, senior research engineer in the Advanced Combustion and Emissions Section in SwRI's Engine, Emissions and Vehicle Research Division. The consortium will develop control solutions and guidelines to prevent or reduce incidences of LSPI.

In LSPI, the fuel in the combustion chamber is ignited before the spark event, causing significantly advanced combustion phasing. Low-speed preignition events are random, infrequent occurrences that happen at low speed and high torque. Under these conditions, a preignition event leads to very heavy knock, which can cause catastrophic damage in only a few engine cycles. The consortium will study the interaction of fuels and lubricants and how they interact and contribute to LSPI.

"When you ignite the fuel too early, you have very high knock. These early ignition occurrences are very infrequent and random but can be quite destructive. The current solutions to get around the problem are very costly," Chadwell said. The consortium will look at the root causes and work to develop new lubricants and lubricant testing methods. The presence of low-speed preignition is considered a major impediment to automobile manufacturers' efforts to aggressively downsize engines to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

As an independent R&D laboratory, SwRI has extensive experience in managing consortia. The HEDGE-II consortium is developing high efficiency spark ignition engine technologies, and the Clean Diesel V consortium, now in its 19th consecutive year of research, is developing efficiency and emissions solutions for future diesel engines.

Cost to join the P3 Consortium is $225,000 for original equipment manufacturers and those in the fuels and lubricants industry. For engine component suppliers the fee is $175,000.

An advantage of consortium membership is that the impact of the yearly contribution is multiplied by the number of participants, providing substantially more research than would be possible through funding from a single member. Additionally, consortium members will have the right to access any patents that are produced from the consortium's work.

The initial meeting for the Preignition Prevention Program Consortium is scheduled for January 2011.