How a water injection system works
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  1. #1
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    How a water injection system works

    How a water injection system works

    Water injection systems are predominantly useful in forced induction (turbocharged or supercharged), internal combustion engines. Only in extreme cases such as very high compression ratios, very low octane fuel or too much ignition advance can it benefit a normally aspirated engine. The system has been around for a long time since it was already used in some World War II aircraft engines.
    A water injection system works similarly to a fuel injection system with the difference that it injects water instead of fuel. Water injection is not to be confused with water spraying on the intercooler's surface; water spraying is much less efficient and far less sophisticated.
    A turbocharger essentially compresses the air going into the engine in order to force more air than it would be possible using the atmospheric pressure. More air into the engine means, automatically, that more fuel has to be injected in order to maintain the appropriate stoichiometric value of the air/fuel ratio (around 14:1). More air and fuel into the engine leads to more power. However by compressing the inlet air the turbocharger also heats it. Higher air temperatures lead to thinner air and therefore an altered stoichiometric ratio which results to richer mixtures. Over-heated air intake temperatures can cause detonation.
    Detonation, an effect also known as engine knocks or pinging occurs when the air/fuel mixture ignites prematurely or burns incorrectly. In normal engine operation the flame front travels from the spark plug across the cylinder in a predefined pattern. Peak chamber pressure occurs at around 12 degrees after TDC and the piston is pushed down the bore.

    In some cases and for reasons such as a poor mixture, too high engine or inlet temperatures, too low octane fuels, too much ignition advance, too much turbo boost, etc., the primary flame front initiated by the spark plug may be followed by a second flame front. The chamber pressure then rises too rapidly for piston movement to relieve it. The pressure and temperature become so great that all the mixture in the chamber explodes in an uncontrolled manner. If the force of that explosion is severe some of the engine's moving parts (pistons, rods, valves, crank) will be destroyed.
    Detonation, in any engine, should always be avoided by either lowering inlet temperatures, using higher octane fuel, retarding ignition (hence lowering engine output), lowering engine blow-by (a situation in which high crankcase pressure sends oil fumes back inside the combustion chamber), running the engine a little richer than at the stoichiometric ratio, lowering the compression ratio and/or boost pressure, ... .



    Water injection is used to lower in-cylinder temperatures and burn the air/fuel mixture more efficiently thus helping avoid detonation.
    In high pressure turbocharged engines the air/fuel mixture that enters the cylinders can, in some cases, explode prematurely (before the spark plug ignites) due to the extreme engine environment conditions. This situation is extremely destructive and results in severe engine damage (piston piercing). To avoid damaging the engine by detonation or pre-ignition phenomena, water is injected, along with fuel, in the combustion chambers in order to provide a water/air/fuel mixture which not only burns more efficiently and avoids detonation or pre-ignition but also provides additional inlet air cooling and, hence, denser air. The sole function of water injection is avoiding detonation.
    There are mainly three variations of water injection systems. They are dependent of the location of the water injectors. The first technique consists of injecting water at the entrance of the intake manifold. The second injects water at the exit pipe of the intercooler. The third technique injects water at the entry of the intercooler and is only used in competition vehicles. In this latter variation most of the in-cylinder detonation prevention is done by injecting additional fuel which is then used as coolant (i.e. is not burned) and runs the engine above the stoichiometric ratio (i.e. rich).
    How water injection works
    The system is, usually, made up of 3 elements:
    A water injector (similar to a fuel injector)
    A high pressure pump (capable of attaining at least 3 to 4 bar pressure and sometimes even more)
    A pressure sensor connected to the inlet manifold
    An inlet air temperature sensor
    Usually a water injection system is engaged when the inlet air temperature is exceeding a certain value, typically 40 degrees Celsius, and the engine is on boost. The most advanced systems add to the above electronic circuitry that provides 3D cartography similar to the one used in fuel injection systems. Cartography based devices take into account many more parameters such air/fuel ratio, throttle position and so on.
    This refers to http://www.rallycars.com/Cars/WaterInjection.html

  2. #2
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    Water injection is a technology that is nearly as old as the car itself. However, like many automotive technologies, it has waxed and waned as fashion has dictated. Water injection has the ability to suppress detonation, allowing the use of higher cylinder pressures. It is easy to control and relatively simple to install. In times of tight emission controls, decreasing fuel octane and rising petrol costs, water injection is one of the best ways of controlling detonation. And it has another major advantage over taking other approaches - the 'fuel' is available at almost zero cost!
    How it Works
    Water injection is used to suppress detonation. Detonation occurs when the flame front does not burn progressively across the combustion chamber but instead explodes into action. This causes a massive and sharp increase in combustion pressures which can damage pistons, rings and even heads. Detonation can sometimes be heard as a 'tink, tink' sound coming from the engine. The piston and head shown here has suffered severely from detonation.

    Water injection works in three ways. Firstly, when the water is injected into the intake system prior to the cylinder head, the small droplets absorb heat from the intake air. Water has a very high specific heat rating (it can absorb lots of energy while only slowly increasing in temperature) and so the intake air is initially cooled. Next, the small drops of water start to evaporate. Water has a very high latent heat of evaporation (its change of state absorbs a lot of heat) and so the intake air charge is cooled still further. Finally, when the remaining water droplets and water vapour reach the combustion chamber, steam is produced. This acts as an anti-detonant and also keeps the interior of the engine very clean, so preventing the build-up of carbon "hot spots".
    Water injection was first experimented with in the 1930s. At the time it was discovered that detonation could initially be prevented by enriching the air/fuel ratio. As cylinder pressures raised still further and that approach ceased being effective, the injection of water into the intake air stream was found to prevent detonation. Interestingly, the detonation remained suppressed, even if the air/fuel ratio was then leaned-out. This occurred because the excess fuel was being used to cool the combustion process. When water replaced fuel in performing this function, less fuel was then required.
    This has major implications for both emissions and fuel economy at high engine loads. In fact Saab on some of their recent turbocharged cars has used water injection at high loads in conjunction with leaner air/fuel ratios to reduce emissions output and improve fuel consumption. To put this another way, at high engine loads it is possible to reduce the amount of fuel being used, replacing it with water without sustaining any loss of power!
    Refers to http://autospeed.drive.com.au/cms/article.html?&A=0115&P=1

 

 
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