231 Engine Control

Contemporary electronic control technology performs six basic functions:

1. Monitoring — sensor technology enables close, precise, automatic monitoring of all major engine systems. Sensors continuously measure starting air pressure, oil pressure, oil temperature, coolant level and temperature, crankcase pressure, fuel temperature, inlet air temperature, engine speed, cylinder temperature, ignition timing, detonation, and other parameters. Control systems can display these values for operator information and record them in memory as part of an ongoing engine history.

2. Protection — controls are programmed to prevent engine damage by shutting down the engine if sensor readings indicate that key parameters are outside acceptable limits. Typical safety shutdown parameters are low oil pressure, high oil or coolant temperature, high exhaust stack temperature, low coolant level, and overspeed.

3. Diagnosis — advanced controls have self-diagnostics that speed troubleshooting and service, enabling repairs to be made quickly before a costly breakdown occurs. Fault LEDs commonly indicate problems with gauges, fluid levels, fuel supply, air intake, exhaust, ignition, and starting systems. Some controls signal problems in the interface with driven equipment. Fault indicators are also generally included for control system components, such as sensors, actuators, modules, and wiring.

4. Sequence Automation — control systems automate engine startup and shutdown, following procedures either built into the system or custom programmed by the user. Startup sequences include prelubrication, cranking, ignition, disengagement of the starting motor cranking, and acceleration to rated speed. Shutdown typically includes a programmed cooldown period.

5. Combustion Control — electronic feedback systems automatically regulate air-fuel ratio, ignition timing, and engine power to compensate for changes in ambient air temperature, barometric pressure, fuel heating value, engine load, and other operating variables. Some combustion controls are available as add-on modules; others are fully integrated with the engine. Timing control generally includes protection against detonation, a form of uncontrolled, explosive fuel combustion that can severely damage cylinder components. If in-cylinder sensors detect detonation, the control automatically retards the timing. If detonation persists after timing has been retarded to the full extent available, the control triggers a safety shutdown.

6. Remote Capability — engine monitoring and control from off-site is essential to efficient distributed generation on a large scale (see VPP discussion in Chapter 7). Routine operating parameters and fault indicators are displayed at a central control center. More importantly, remote control also enables centralized dispatching of multiple distributed power sources.

Solar Stirling Engine Basics Explained

Solar Stirling Engine Basics Explained

The solar Stirling engine is progressively becoming a viable alternative to solar panels for its higher efficiency. Stirling engines might be the best way to harvest the power provided by the sun. This is an easy-to-understand explanation of how Stirling engines work, the different types, and why they are more efficient than steam engines.

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