City Research Online

Cavitation in the cylinder-liner and piston-ring interaction in internal combustion engines

Vasilakos, I. (2017). Cavitation in the cylinder-liner and piston-ring interaction in internal combustion engines. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


The emissions control regulations introduced by governments are set to improve the quality of the engines and reduce the impact automobiles have on the planet. The regulations imposed on the manufactures have proven very difficult to meet, with some of the leading names in the industry investing significant part of their funding in research and development. Their goal is to reduce the fuel consumption and exhaust emissions while increasing the engine performance and durability. The piston-ring and cylinder-liner interaction is the major source of frictional losses for reciprocating internal combustion engines. The failure of the piston-rings to effectively control the transportation of oil from the sump onto the cylinder walls results among others to lubricant consumption.

The objective of this project is to assist with the investigation of phenomena that occur in the cylinder liner and piston ring interaction under different operating conditions. To achieve these the following investigations have been carried, flow and cavitation visualisation in a model lubricant rig, and cavitation visualisation in a newly designed optical engine. The main focus of the project was the design, manufacturing and assembly of an optical internal combustion reciprocating engine. The new engine has been based on the design of a 450cc Ricardo Hydra, where many parts had to be redesigned or modified. The engine was fitted with a custom cylinder liner designed to accommodate custom made windows that covers almost the full length of the liner over a width of 25mm; this visibility allows access not only into the contact point over the entire length of the liner, but also provides access to the combustion chamber to allow for flow visualisation and flow field measurements. The cooling system was modified to allow for the accurate control and maintaining of the engine temperature. The control of the engine is performed with a new custom engine management system build in LabView which allowed for the precise control of the engine and of all the auxiliary systems such as fuel, ignition, sensors and optical equipment. The new control system and the optical engine were tested successfully up to 3000 RPM with the same specification as the unmodified engine in terms of in cylinder pressure and maintaining the original engine tolerances. The design of the new optical engine was a great success and it would offer a useful and valuable testing device that would allow further investigation to be carried out.

In parallel to the design of the engine, a parametric experimental study was undertaken and performed on 6 lubricant samples of different formulations at two lubricant flow rate of 0.02 and 0.05 L/min, three speeds at 100, 300 and 600 RPM, and two different temperatures at 30oC and 70oC. The study was performed on an existing test-rig to visualise lubricants cavitation using two high speed cameras coupled with three ARRI high intensity light sources. This optical test device is a quick, efficient and effective way to test different lubricant samples and compare their in-between performance. The captured video images were processed through a custom build algorithm designed around the lubrication rig. This algorithm allowed for the extraction of matrices such as cavity length, cavity width, area of cavitation and number of cavities present in the area between the piston ring and the cylinder liner interaction. This parametric study offered a set of valuable results from which the performance of each lubricant can be assessed and a direct link between the lubricant formulation and the operating conditions can be established.

Cavitation visualisation of the lubricant in the new optical engine was performed under motorised and firing condition up to an engine speed of 300 RPM and produced high quality images from the usually inaccessible piston ring and cylinder liner interaction. This unique design allowed to investigate a number of phenomena around that specific area like cavitation, blow-by, fuel spray, flame propagation and oil transportation. The parametric study results investigated in the test-rig have been linked with those obtained in the conventional internal combustion engines while providing a very useful and very powerful piece of software.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: T Technology > TJ Mechanical engineering and machinery
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Science & Technology > Engineering
School of Science & Technology > School of Science & Technology Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of Vasilakos, Ioannis.pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
Download (15MB) | Preview


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login