Small-displacement, single-cylinder, diesel engines employ mechanically actuated fuel injection systems. These mechanically governed systems, while robust and low-cost, lack the ability to fully vary injection parameters, such as timing, pulse duration, and injection pressure. The ability of a particular injection system to vary these injection parameters impacts engine efficiency, power, noise, and emissions. Modern, multi-cylinder automotive engines employ some form of electronically controlled injection to take advantage of the benefits of fully variable injection, including advanced strategies such as multi-pulse injections and rate shaping. Modern diesel electronic fuel injection systems also operate at considerably higher injection pressures than mechanical fuel systems used in small-bore industrial engines. As the cost of electronic fuel systems continues to decrease and the demand for high-efficiency engines increases, electronic fuel injection becomes a more viable option for incorporation into small industrial diesel engines. In particular, this technology may be well-suited for demanding and critical applications such as military power generation.

In this study, a small-bore, single-cylinder diesel was retrofit with a custom, four-hole, high-pressure electronic fuel system. Compared to the mechanical injector, the electronic, common-rail injector had a 50% smaller orifice diameter and was designed for a 4x higher injection pressure. The mechanical governor was also replaced with an electronic speed controller. The baseline and modified engines were installed on a dynamometer, and measurements of exhaust emissions, fuel consumption, brake torque, and in-cylinder pressure were made. The electronic injector led to lower smoke opacity and NOx emissions, while CO and hydrocarbon emissions were observed to increase slightly, likely due to some wall wetting of fuel with the initial prototype injector. Testing with low ignition quality fuels was also performed, and the electronic fuel system enabled the engine to operate with fuel having a cetane number as low as 30.

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