Argonne, Ill. – In the swirling, churning fireball at the heart of every internal combustion engine, complexity reigns supreme.
Valves and pistons lunge up and down at thousands of feet per second, pressure spikes to peak levels in an instant and sprays of fuel spread throughout the maelstrom in impossibly intricate patterns.
That complexity is a daunting task for anyone trying to understand the interacting forces at work in an engine. But a team of researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory has stepped up to the challenge by creating integrated modeling of one key element of that mechanical mayhem: the fluid dynamics of fuel injectors in modern engines.
Partnering with industry leaders Cummins, Inc., and Convergent Science, Inc. (CSI), and using the unique facilities and massive computing resources available at Argonne, the team hopes to take one step closer to the Holy Grail of engine design: cleaner and more efficient engines simulated, designed and optimized in virtual space before production ever begins.
“Fuel injection is the first step toward the type of simulation we want to do someday,” said Sibendu Som, principal investigator and principal mechanical engineer at Argonne’s Center for Transportation Research. “It’s like running a marathon. It’s a long race, and you have to train for it over time, taking it piece by piece.”