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THERMOGRAPHY

Fault detection in diesel engines using


infrared thermography
V Maci Martnez, B Tormos Martnez, P Olmeda Gonzlez and R W Peralta Ura

Infrared thermography is increasingly used in fields such


as medicine, construction and materials testing. It is a
particularly useful technique in maintenance activities due to
its versatility, data reading accuracy, measurement reliability
fast response. The main advantages of this technique are its
non-intrusive nature, autonomy and robustness, which make
infrared thermography ideal for fault diagnosis in diesel
engines.
This paper presents the results of an experimental
study for fault detection in diesel engines using infrared
thermography, analysing the surface temperature of the
exhaust manifold. The analysis is based on condition
monitoring of diesel engines used in transport vehicles,
which allows determination of faults caused by malfunctions
in the fuel injection system or compression leaks in the
combustion chamber.
Keywords: Infrared thermography, exhaust temperature, engine
diagnosis, diesel engine.

1. Introduction
It is very difficult to establish the performance of a diesel engine
by just analysing one or a few symptoms, due to its complex
operating mode. For this reason, new techniques, tools and methods
are being constantly developed to perform rapid and reliable fault
diagnosis. Additionally, there are practical difficulties, in particular
the intrusive nature of most diagnostic techniques, lack of robustness
Vicente Macin Martnez is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical
Engineering at the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain. He gained a
PhD in Industrial Engineering at the same university in 1984. He has been
head of the Maintenance Line in CMT-Motores Trmicos since 1987.
E-mail: vmacian@mot.upv.es
Bernardo Tormos Martnez is Assistant Professor in the Department of
Mechanical Engineering at the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain.
E-mail: betormos@mot.upv.es
Pablo Csar Olmeda Gonzlez is Assistant Professor in the Department of
Mechanical Engineering at the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain.
E-mail: pabolgon@mot.upv.es
Ramiro Willy Peralta Ura studied Mechanical Engineering at the
Universidad May de San Andrs, Bolivia and gained a PhD in Industrial
Engineering from the Polytechnic University of Valencia in 2001.
E-mail: rperalta@mot.upv.es
The authors are members of the maintenance line in the CMT-Motores
Trmicos at Polytechnic University of Valencia. The main objectives of
this research area are focused on: design and development of integral
maintenance plans for transport fleets; development and optimisation of
engine fault diagnosis techniques: oil analysis, thermography, vibrations
and performance analysis; development of management tools and computer
aided maintenance and development and implementation of diagnosis
expert systems applied to predictive maintenance.
Address for enquiries: II Edificio de Investigacin, Camino de Vera s/n,
E-46022 Valencia, Spain. Tel: +34 96 387 76 50; Fax: +34 96 387 76 59;
E-mail: pabolgon@mot.upv.es

Insight Vol 44 No 4 April 2002

for in-service applications, and lack of practical experience in


specific applications, which determine their implementation for
predictive maintenance in diesel engines.
Although the industrial application of infrared thermography
dates back to the late 70s, it is now being widely used in several
fields of engineering(1), (2). The technique of acquiring images
from the thermal radiation emitted by objects, using algorithms
to correct surrounding conditions and the performance of realtime measurements, is highly suitable for maintenance activities,
as Newport(3) and Rabjasz(4) showed. However, similar to other
techniques, it presents related difficulties with respect to the
procedure to follow in fault prediction, such as:
q Selection of the monitoring elements in order to obtain maximum
information
q Determination of the relationship between control variables and
functional faults
q Definition of the operating limits of the anomaly for a specific
fault.
Many research works have been carried out recently studying
infrared thermography for measuring temperatures(5), (6). In the case
of diesel engines, this method offers great possibilities, not only
in thermometry but also in transients and spatial and temporal
distributions(7), (8), and it can be used for fault detection, such as:
q Identification of overheated points caused by friction, abrasion,
poor lubrication or stress concentration
q Measurement of the temperature in difficult access places, even
in zones where it is not possible to determine it by contact
q Determination of temperature distribution by means of isothermal
curves.
Examples of these uses in vehicles are shown in Figures 1 and
2, which illustrate heat exchanger inspection showing different
efficiency around its surface, and intercooler tubes showing a
malfunction.
This work shows how the qualities and possibilities of infrared
thermography can be used to evaluate and assess in-operation diesel
engines through the analysis of the engine working performance,
and how this technique can be used as a diagnostic tool.

2. Methodology applied for diesel engine


diagnosis
2.1 Measurement considerations
The radiation reaching the thermographic camera is affected
not only by the temperature and emissivity of the object being
measured but also by the influence of the radiation generated around
the object: atmosphere (temperature and humidity), measurement
distance and the thermal energy of the optical device and internal
components of the camera. Surrounding conditions affecting the
total radiation detected by the infrared sensor can be corrected
using proper algorithms. As can be seen in the equation on
Figure 3, the first term is related to object emissions affected by
atmospheric transmissivity; the second term represents surround
radiation reflection on the objects surface, and the third term

Figure 3. Thermal radiation detected by the camera


Figure 1. Overheated points in a heat exchanger

measurement points were established in a specific study(12). With


this study, areas with less thermal inertia (those areas which react
faster to temperature changes) were found and subsequent analysis
was carried out at these points.

3. Experimental set-up
Figure 4 shows schematically the set-up used. The tests were
conducted on a four stroke, six cylinder, naturally aspirated direct
injection diesel engine, with a fuel pump mechanically regulated,
a displacement of 10,500 cm3 and a maximum power rating of
175 kW at 2000 rpm, used on a public transport vehicle.

Figure 2. Overheated points in intercooler tubes

is the radiation generated by the atmosphere. Internal factors


concerning the radiation emitted by the thermographic camera itself
(both optical device and internal components) are compensated
automatically and continuously in order to avoid effects on data
reading.
Previous and complementary works(9), (10) developed the measurement methodology applied to diesel engine diagnosis. These studies
showed that the main drawbacks of this technique are:
q The most critical factor in measurement accuracy is emissivity.
q It is necessary to correct for the effect of the surrounding
conditions.
2.2 Methodology
In the case of internal combustion engines, the temperature of the
exhaust gases is one of the most important parameters for fault
diagnosis due to its relation to the combustion process(11). Exhaust
manifolds can reflect the temperature variations of the combustion
gases flowing inside, depending on wall thickness. Main variations
in the exhaust gas temperature are produced by changes in the
engine working conditions, such as malfunctions of air management
or injection systems. Therefore, exhaust manifold temperature
measurements will be used as symptoms for diagnosis.
The target will be to obtain an exhaust manifold thermal
signature in order to compare it in both normal condition operation
and with simulated failures. Fault diagnosis will be based on the
analysis of deviations over the thermal signature defined when
engine runs under normal condition.
In order to obtain this thermal signature, and due to the
differences in temperature along the exhaust manifold, control

Figure 4. Schematic diagram of the set-up

In addition, other non-intrusive methods were used to evaluate the


influence of different failures. These methods were: determination
of engine power by means of free acceleration, relative compression
between cylinders using starter current measurement, smoke test
and injection pressure curves by AVL clamp-on transducer.
Measurements have been taken at two operating limits: idle and
maximum engine speed under no-load conditions. The engine has
been tested in both normal conditions and with intentional faults (in
the injection system and compression leaks), in order to compare
the results. The data obtained from all the tests was collected while
the temperature of the selected points was stable.

4. Results
4.1 Thermal signature
Figure 5 shows the exhaust manifold configuration and the points
defined in the previous analysis.
Table 1 shows the characteristic values obtained under normal
working conditions for the tested engine.
4.2 Combustion faults
The air-fuel ratio is one of the most critical parameters that affect
the combustion processes, and by varying the amount of air and/or

Insight Vol 44 No 4 April 2002

Table 1. Characteristic values under normal working conditions


for the tested engine
Cylinder number
Point

Multiple 1 Multiple 2 Manifold


5

7.1

7.2

Idle

Figure 5. Selected points for the analysis

fuel supplied, combustion faults can be simulated in the engine and


engine performance monitored by thermography measurements.
Consequently, for the two rotational speeds selected (idle and
maximum revolutions), several tests were conducted in order to
simulate combustion faults. Points with a lower thermal inertia,
as defined previously, were analysed and the magnitude of the
simulated combustion fault was quantified using effective engine
power measurements.
4.2.1 Simulated fault: Decrease in the amount of fuel supply
A fault in cylinder number five is simulated by decreasing the
amount of fuel supplied and obtaining, as a consequence, a decrease
of 19% in effective engine power.
Figure 6 and 7 show the differences between thermal signatures
in normal conditions and with this simulated fault. As it can be seen, a
decrease in temperature is observed in both regimes, being greater
at maximum speed than at idle. A decrease in the temperatures, at
the points in the same manifold line of the faulty cylinder, are also
observed. This reduction is greater downstream.

Figure 6. Surface temperatures in the exhaust manifold, with


partial decrease in the fuel injected for cylinder number five at
idle

Figure 7. Surface temperatures in the exhaust manifold, with


partial decrease in the fuel injected for cylinder number five at
maximum speed

Insight Vol 44 No 4 April 2002

Tmean(oC)

70.4

80.7

84.4

84.8

83.6

82

79.5

81.8

80

Tmax(oC)

73.3

83.8

87.9

90

87.3

84.8

81.5

84.7

83.3

Tmin(oC)

66.8

77.2

80.7

81.1

80

79.1

76.9

79.2

77.5

Tmax-min(oC)

6.4

6.5

7.2

8.9

7.3

5.7

4.5

5.5

5.8

est

2.2

2.6

2.4

1.6

1.3

1.4

1.4

%var

2.9

2.5

2.5

3.1

2.9

1.6

1.7

1.8

Maximum speed
Tmean(oC)

159.1 200.9 221.9 199.6 210.6

209.9

202.6

204.4

202.6

Tmax(oC)

162.3 203.1 224.9 203.1 215.2

213.9

210.6

212.6

211.4

Tmin(oC)

154.4 196.1 219.8 194.4 205.6

207.1

198.5

199.5

197.2

Tmax-min(oC)

7.9

5.1

8.7

9.6

6.8

12.1

13.1

14.2

est

2.3

1.9

1.5

2.5

2.6

3.3

3.8

%var

1.4

0.7

1.2

1.2

1.6

1.8

Note: In Figures 5-9 the legend is:


-n- Thermal signature of manifold 1, under normal condition
-l- Thermal signature of manifold 2, under normal condition
Thermal signature of manifold 1, with a specific failure
Thermal signature of manifold 2, with a specific failure
When no fuel mass is injected in cylinder number five, the
thermal signature at idle remains practically constant, compared
with the previous test, presenting an important variation at
maximum speed (Figures 8 and 9).
Thus, it can be concluded that in order to detect this kind
of failure, an analysis at maximum engine speed is suggested,
bearing in mind that: thermal signature variation at this regime is

Figure 8. Surface temperatures in the exhaust manifold, without


fuel injected for cylinder number five at idle

Figure 9. Surface temperatures in the exhaust manifold, without


fuel injected for cylinder number five at maximum speed

proportional to the diminution of fuel supply and remains almost


constant for all the range of fuel supply reductions at idle.
The results obtained with other techniques show the following:
q Engine power is also reduced gradually with fuel amount
supplied.
q As might be expected, the injection line curve shows a
qualitative decrease.
q The equipment used for the measurement of the engine speed
stability, relative compression measurements and the smoke test
do not show variations with this failure.

reason, a decrease in the injection pressure of 23% of its nominal


value was simulated. Figures 12 and 13 show the thermographic
measurements obtained on the manifold, showing that at idle,
manifold surface temperature of the affected cylinder increases,
while at maximum speed, the surface temperature of the exhaust
manifold remains almost constant.

4.2.2 Simulated fault: Increase in the amount of fuel supply


In this case, the injected fuel mass was greater than in normal
operating conditions, and the temperatures were registered as in
the previous test. The results in Figures 10 and 11 show that fault
detection is possible at the two different engine speeds, observing
that the surface temperature of the affected manifold increases
significantly.
The results obtained with other techniques show the following:
q Engine power remains almost constant, with the usual variation
within the tolerance margins defined for usual operation.
q The injection line pressure curve is qualitatively higher at
cylinder number five.
q The smoke test shows a slightly increase, but it can be
considered within the limits defined for this technique.

Figure 12. Surface temperatures in the exhaust manifold, with


imbalanced fuel injector at idle

Measurements of engine speed stability and relative compression


measurements do not show any sensitivity with this type of
failure.
4.2.3 Simulated fault: Imbalanced fuel injector
Since this is one of the most common anomalies in diesel engines,
its monitoring and detection are particularly important. For this

Figure 13. Surface temperatures in the exhaust manifold, with


imbalanced fuel injector at maximum speed

Figure 10. Surface temperatures in the exhaust manifold, with


partial increase in the fuel injected for cylinder number five at
idle

These results can be explained taking into account that, at


idle, the increase of temperature is due to the advance of start
of injection. This fact increases the delay time, causing a greater
premixed combustion. At maximum speed, the differences between
the delay time in normal condition and with a failure are less
significant due to the high speed.
The results obtained with other techniques show the following:
q Power engine measurements decrease slightly from its nominal
value.
q The injection line pressure curve is qualitatively lower in
cylinder five.
q Smoke test increases, although the new values can be considered
acceptable.
q Measurements of engine speed stability and relative compression
measurements do not show sensitivity with this failure.
4.2.4 Simulated fault: Reduction of air mass supplied
Previous and additional experience in this work have showed that
thermographic measurements in exhaust manifolds cannot detect
failures related to a reduction in air mass supplied (even in cases
of severe air filter obstruction) when the tests were made under
no-load conditions.
4.3 Compression leaks

Figure 11. Surface temperatures in the exhaust manifold, with


partial increase in the fuel injected for cylinder number five at
maximum speed

Obviously, when a compression leak is present in one cylinder,


engine performance will be affected. As long as this fault affects
the combustion process, the temperature of the exhaust gases will

Insight Vol 44 No 4 April 2002

also be influenced. In order to simulate this fault, a compression


leak was created inside cylinder number five (a 29% decrease of the
nominal value in the relative compression test), and the results are
shown in Figures 14 and 15 .

Figure 14. Surface temperatures in the exhaust manifold with a


29% reduction of relative compression on cylinder number five
at idle

Figure 15. Surface temperatures in the exhaust manifold with a


29% reduction of relative compression on cylinder number five
at maximum speed

It can be observed that:


q At idle speed the surface temperature of the affected cylinder
rises.
q At maximum speed, this temperature drops.
The results obtained with other techniques show the following:
q The engine power decreases by 8% from its nominal value.
q The injection line curves remain invariable during this test.
q Neither engine speed stability nor the smoke tests are affected
by this kind of failure.

5. Summary and conclusions


Table 2 summarises the results of this work and compares them
with the results obtained with other non-intrusive techniques.
From this work, the following conclusions can be drawn:
n Infrared thermography is confirmed as an effective technique in
order to detect combustion and compression failures in a diesel
engine, even better than other techniques employed nowadays.
n The thermal difference between test points on the exhaust
manifold can be analysed through thermal curves, making
thermographic analysis easier and diagnosis faster.
n The detection of small changes in radiation, due to incipient

Insight Vol 44 No 4 April 2002

Table 2. Summary of the results


Simulated fault

Infrared
thermography

Engine Engine Injection Relative Smoke


power speed pressure compres. test

Id l e

Max

Reduction in air
mass

Increase in the
amount of fuel
supply

Decrease in the
amount of fuel
supply

Unbalanced fuel
injector

Compression
leak

faults, is possible but complex, especially if it is necessary to


relate it to a specific failure.
n The methodology developed before can be applied to any general
diesel engine, although its application will be conditioned by
the specific features of the engine design.
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