Detection of combustion-related phenomena such as misfire, knock, and sporadic preignition is very important for the development of electronic controls needed for the gasoline direct injection engines to meet the production goals in power, fuel economy, and low emissions. This paper applies several types of combustion ionization sensors, and a pressure transducer that directly senses the in-cylinder combustion, and the knock sensor which is an accelerometer that detects the impact of combustion on engine structure vibration. Experimental investigations were conducted on a turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline direct injection engine under operating conditions that produce the above phenomena. One of the cylinders is instrumented with a piezo quartz pressure transducer, MSFI (multi-sensing fuel injector), a stand-alone ion current probe, and a spark plug applied to act as an ion current sensor. A comparison is made between the capabilities of the pressure transducer, ion current sensors, and the knock sensor in detecting the above phenomena. The signals from in-cylinder combustion sensors give more accurate information about combustion than the knock sensor. As far as the feasibility and cost of their application in production vehicles, the spark plug sensor and MSFI appear to be the most favorable, followed by the stand-alone mounted sensor which is an addition to the engine.

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