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Ionization Current Interpretation for Ignition Control in Internal Combustion Engines

Spark advance setting in spark-ignited engines is used to place the in-cylinder pressure curve relative to the top dead center. A feedback scheme, not a calibration scheme, based on ionization current is proposed here. It is thus related to pressure sensor feedback schemes, that have reported good results, but have not yet been proved cost effective, due to the cost of the pressure sensor. The method proposed here is very cost-effective, since it uses exactly the same hardware and instrumentation (already used in production cars) that is used to utilize the spark plug as a sensor to detect misfire and as a sensor for knock control. A key idea in the method is to use parameterized functions to describe the ionization current. These parameterized functions are used to separate out the different phases of the ionization current. Special emphasis is laid on getting a correct description of the pressure development. The results are validated on a SAAB 2.3 l production engine by direct comparison with an in-cylinder pressure sensor (used only for validation, not for control), but also by using a physical model relating the ionization current to the pressure.

Lars Eriksson and Lars Nielsen

Control Engineering Practice, 1997

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