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Applied Thermal Engineering 52 (2013) 62e68

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Applied Thermal Engineering

journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/apthermeng

Water injection in directly injected turbocharged spark ignition

Alberto Boretti
RMIT University, PO Box 71, Bundoora VIC 3083, Melbourne, Australia

h i g h l i g h t s
< Water injection may help further improve turbocharged spark ignited engines.
< Water injection reduces the temperature of gases to turbine.
< Water injection reduces the tendency to knock.
< Water injection reduces the heat losses.
< If directly rather than port injected, water may better enhance fuel conversion efciency.

a r t i c l e i n f o

a b s t r a c t

Article history:
Received 6 July 2012
Accepted 16 November 2012
Available online 26 November 2012

The paper explores the use of water injection in a turbocharged, direct injection, spark ignition engines
fuelled with ethanol where port injection of water numerically prove to be effective in increasing the
charge efciency, reducing the tendency to knock, and controlling the temperature of gases to turbine.
With injection of water in selected operating conditions, the engine may run higher compression ratios
and boost pressures and closer to maximum brake torque spark advances for improved top power output
and peak efciency as well as better part load efciencies. The paper suggests the introduction of this old
technique now used in aftermarket kits possibly evolved to direct water injection in the design stage of
novel turbocharged engines.
2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

SI engines
Water injection

1. Introduction
Water injection is not a novel concept. Introduced in aircraft
engines during the 40s, water injection was a key enabler of high
power density F1 engines during the turbo era of the 80s. These
days water injection is not proposed by any original equipment
manufacturers, but only offered for retrotting of old engines.
Return of interest for high power densities highly turbocharged
engines permitting major downsizing may bring back attention to
water injection as a simple but very efcient way to reduce the
engines susceptibility to detonation cooling the air in the mixture
forced up when it was compressed by the turbo.
In internal combustion engines, water injection, also known as
anti-detonant injection (ADI), is a method for cooling the combustion
chambers of engines by adding water to the cylinder or incoming
fueleair mixture, generally allowing for greater compression ratios
and essentially eliminating the problem of knock. This system was
originally introduced in aircraft engines [1e5] from the 40s.

E-mail address: a_boretti@yahoo.com.

1359-4311/$ e see front matter 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Many water injection systems use a mixture of water and

alcohol (approximately 50/50), with trace amounts of watersoluble oil. The water provides the primary cooling effect due to
its great density and high heat absorption properties. The alcohol is
combustible, and also serves as antifreeze for the water. The
purpose of the oil is to prevent corrosion of water injection and fuel
system components. The alcohol mixed into the injection solution
is often methanol (CH3OH), and the system is also known as
methanolewater injection (MW50).
The port injection of water cools the fueleair mixture signicantly, which increases its density and hence the amount of mixture
that enters the cylinder. An additional effect may come later during
combustion when the water absorbs large amounts of heat as it
vaporizes, reducing peak temperature and resultant NOx formation,
and reducing the amount of heat energy absorbed into the cylinder
walls. The alcohol in the mixture burns, but also increases the
resistance to knock of the fueleair mixture. The net result is
equivalent to have a higher octane number fuel that will support
much larger compression ratios before onset of detonation [6e10].
A limited number of road vehicles with large-displacement
engines from manufacturers such as Chrysler have included water

A. Boretti / Applied Thermal Engineering 52 (2013) 62e68

injection. Saab offered water injection for the Saab 99 Turbo. With
the introduction of the intercooler the interest in water injection
disappeared. The most common use of water injection today is in
vehicles with aftermarket forced induction systems, such as
turbochargers or superchargers. Such engines are commonly tuned
with a narrower margin of safety from detonation and hence
benet greatly from the cooling effects of vaporized water.
However, water injection may improve not just the power output,
but also the fuel economy if carefully included in the design of the
Control over the water injection is important. It needs to be
injected only when the engine is heavily loaded and the throttle is
wide open. Direct injection of water is also possible, and this can be
done late in the power stroke or during the exhaust stroke.
The paper resumes the water injection technology as it was
thought during the turbo era in the 90s as a very straight and
efcient way to permit higher compression ratios and boosts and
therefore better power densities and better conversion efciencies
without knock. The technology is considered for new design of high
performance engines rather than just retrotting of old engines as
done these days. Some preliminary simulations are proposed here
by using the GT-POWER code [11]. These simulations are used to
generate new ideas more than to accurately reproduce the operation of an engine with novel water injection that clearly requires an
experimental campaign.
Port water injection in Diesel and gasoline engines application is
also covered in [12e18]. The use of fuelewater mixtures proposed
in [19e25] is not considered here. Direct water injection in Diesel
engines is numerically studied in [26]. Direct water injection in
a novel 2 stroke engine with direct injection also of fuel and oxygen
is considered in [27]. In this case, the directly injected water
vaporization and steam expansion increases signicantly the
pressure work done by the gases on the piston increasing the fuel
conversion efciency.
2. Preliminary computational results
Engine performance simulations have been performed with the
GT-SUITE code [11] for a 2 l in-line four cylinder turbocharged
direct injection gasoline engine converted to pure ethanol E100.
The engine parameters are presented in Table 1. The engine has
a direct injection of ethanol within the combustion chamber.
Simulations are performed modelling combustion with a Wiebe
function [11] having parameters unchanged with airefuel equivalence ratio. This simplication may affect the quality of results when
Table 1
2 L in-line four spark ignition engine parameters.
Displacement per cylinder [l]
Number of cylinders
Engine layout
Compression ratio
Bore [mm]
Stroke [mm]
Connecting rod length [mm]
Wrist pin offset [mm]
Clearance vol. [l].
Engine type
No. of intake valve per cylinder
Intake valve dia. [mm]
Intake valve max. lift [mm]
No. of exhaust valve per cylinder
IVO [deg]
IVC [deg]
Exhaust valve dia. [mm]
Exhaust valve max. lift [mm]
EVO [deg]
EVC [deg]

619 (79)
131 (49)
384 (24)


operating very rich mixtures. The Wiebe function parameters are

unchanged with injection of water. This simplication may affect the
quality of results when operating with very large amounts of water.
The injection of water changes the combustion evolution. For
small percentages of water as those adopted here, the slower rate of
combustion is compensated by an advance of the spark discharge
and the use of a constant Wiebe function is not expected to change
too much the predicted trends. Modelling of the actual combustion
evolution is difcult to set up, because many of the sub model
needed with water are missed, not tuned and/or not sufciently
validated. This may be done at a later stage as part of an experimental campaign supported by some modelling activity.
The simple knock model is based on the Douaud and Eyzat
induction time correlation [11]. The induction time (ignition delay)
in seconds is calculated at every time step using the equation:

0:018869 ON 3:4107 1:7


where Ap is a user-entered pre-exponential multiplier, ON the userentered fuel octane number (95 in the particular application to
gasoline), P the cylinder pressure [kgf/cm2], AT the user-entered
activation temperature multiplier and T the unburned gas
temperature [K]. In general, this induction time continually
decreases as combustion progresses and the unburned zone
temperature rises. The end-gas auto-ignites (knocks) if the induction time is less than the ame arrival time. The model assumes
that auto-ignition occurs when:




Where t0 is the start of end-gas compression, ti the time of autoignition and t the induction time, dened above. This model is used
just for a rst computational assessment of the advantages of the
knock controlled variable compression ratio operation. The model
represents major factor affecting knock. At high compression ratios,
even before spark ignition, the fueleair mixture may be compressed
to a high pressure and temperature which promotes auto-ignition. At
low engine speeds the ame velocity is slow and thus the burn time is
long, and this results in more time for auto-ignition. At high engine
speeds, there is less heat loss so the unburned gas temperature is
higher which again promotes auto-ignition. All these competing
effects are included in the Douaud and Eyzat induction time correlation [11] despite their description is quite simplied.
Only upstream fuel injection of water is considered. Different
injection locations are possible in a turbocharged engine. For aftermarket wateremethanol injectors, the most popular locations are
pre-turbocharger/centrifugal injection, pre-intercooler injection,
post intercooler injection, pre throttle body/carburettor injection,
post throttle body/carburettor injection, direct port injection or
staggered injection usually combining two of the locations above
[12]. When tted to an existing engine, the option to use one single
injector in an area where it is easy to locate is a very interesting
option that guides the design. However, in the design of a new
engine, the port injection with one injector per cylinder and
eventually the direct injection are the ones that certainly permit
a much better control of the temperature to turbine as well as of the
occurrence of knock within the cylinder.
Ethanol has a heat of vaporization at 298 K of 923.84 kJ/kg and
density of 785 kg/m3. Water has a heat of vaporization at 298 K of
244.23 kJ/kg and density 1002.5 kg/m3. Enthalpy vs. Temperature
relations for liquid and vapour ethanol and water are also different


A. Boretti / Applied Thermal Engineering 52 (2013) 62e68

[11]. Injection of water reduces the temperature of the charge and

dilutes the charge. While oxygenates ashes during injection, water
does not. The water injected immediately upstream of the
combustion chamber in the ports may be assumed to be fully
evaporated within a short time scale dropping down the charge
temperature before the start of the combustion event. Increasing
the amount of water, obviously the opportunity to have a lm of

water in the ports and within the cylinder and therefore a much
more complicated evaporation mechanism also increases.
Fig. 1 presents the temperature to turbine, brake torque and
brake efciency increasing the amount of ethanol fuel injected in the
cylinder. As soon as the mixture is made slightly fuel rich, the torque
increases (it is very well known that the best performances of a spark
ignition engine are obtained operating fuel rich in the power curve).

Fig. 1. Temperature to turbine, engine torque, engine brake efciency and air ow rate for different air-to-fuel equivalence ratios.

A. Boretti / Applied Thermal Engineering 52 (2013) 62e68

However, the excess fuel escapes combustion because of the

unavailability of oxygen and the fuel conversion efciency deteriorates. Results for temperatures inlet of turbine show this parameter
can not be controlled by increasing the amount of fuel injected
within the cylinder vs. the stoichiometric value, because these
temperatures still exceed the maximum allowable to turbine even
with large values as 40% fuel rich mixtures.


Fig. 2 presents the temperature to turbine, engine torque and

brake efciency and air ow rate for injection of 7% water in
different locations or no injection with stoichiometric air-to-fuel
ratio. The injection locations upstream of the port produce even
larger drops in inlet temperature to turbine but also larger penalties
in fuel conversion efciency. The air ow rate increases because of
the increased density of the intake air due to the vaporization of the

Fig. 2. Temperature to turbine, engine torque and brake efciency and air ow rate for injection of 7% water in different locations or no injection with stoichiometric air-to-fuel ratio.


A. Boretti / Applied Thermal Engineering 52 (2013) 62e68

injected water. Maximum ow rates are found when the water/

methanol injector is located upstream of the compressor. The
injection of 7% water enables control of temperatures to turbine
below the maximum allowable value except than operating at
2000 rpm when slightly larger values are due depending on the
injection location. Fig. 2 already shows the convenience to locate
a water injector in the port. This location also favours a faster
The ethanol fuel has a large 129 Road Octane Number rating. The
proposed application is not critical for knock with the selected
turbocharger and compression ratio. The closest to knock operating
point is 2000 rpm (obviously wide open throttle). The water
injection obviously also reduces the tendency to knock leaving
space for signicant compression ratio increases using the same
turbocharger. The major benet of the water injection is the ability
to run higher compression ratios and/or higher boost pressures
and/or spark advances closer to the maximum brake torque
injecting water locally controlling the knock occurrence and the
maximum temperature to turbine in the limited operating conditions where it is needed to guarantee the normal operation of the
The compression ratio is therefore increased from CR 13 to
CR 15. The value CR 15 is selected because above that value the
efciency increase is not large enough to motivate the increased
pressure levels more than the occurrence of knock. Fig. 3 presents
the temperature to turbine, brake torque and efciency and knock
index for injection of 7% water in port or no injection with stoichiometric air-to-fuel ratio with CR 13 and CR 15. Apart from
temperatures to turbine exceeding the maximum allowable values
of more than 200 K, the CR 13 operation without water/methanol
injection already show some sign of knock around 2000 rpm. These
signs increase with the increase in compression ratio. With water
injection there is no sign of knock with both CR. The ultimate result
of the availability of water injection when needed is a higher power
output and a higher efciency within the constraints of a set
maximum temperature of gases to turbine and a set maximum
knock index.
3. Discussion
The commercial software GT-POWER [11] is used to preliminarily model the engine operation with water injection upstream of
the engine cylinder. The expected trends are those measured by the
aftermarket suppliers of water injection systems for turbocharged
gasoline engines, for example [12]. This validation clearly does not
permit to enter more deeply into the details of the novel design of
water injection systems for turbocharged gasoline engines. The
very basic model proposed here is used only to develop new ideas
to be ultimately tested in an experimental campaign. No attempt is
made to make the model more sophisticated, because it is very well
understood than any further study should be based mostly on new
experiments being the application non conventional and the
additional relevant phenomena vs. the standard engine numerous
and complicated. The evaporation of water, the expansion of the
steam, the condensation of steam, the interaction with the walls,
the combustion evolution in presence of water and steam all need
accurate validated model.
A similarly mild validation of GT-POWER is proposed in Ref. [13]
for the case of water injection upstream of the cylinder of a Diesel
rather than a gasoline engine. The version of GT-POWER introduced
a feature in the pipe object to deal correctly with the evaporation
and condensation of water. This option takes into account the
respective enthalpies of evaporation/condensation, partial volume
(Amagats law) and the mass of injected water to determine the
dew points and humidity/saturation/precipitation/displacement of

water under resulting temperature and prevailing pressure in the

charge gas mixture. Despite some issues, the in-cylinder results
show an expected slight increase in the heat transfer coefcient
with water injection, reduced exhaust gas temperature, peak
cylinder pressure and wall heat ux. Some indicators like
compression polytropic exponent, gas temperature and heat
transfer coefcient seem to suggest that GT-POWER captured the
physics correctly [13]. In memory of the author, a full validation of
GT-POWER vs. detailed experimental results with water injection is
still missed.
Water injection for Diesel engines (similarly to what is done in
gas turbines [28,29]) is used for pollution control during combustion, particularly of NOx [10]. In gasoline engines operating stoichiometric the emission control is through the three way catalytic
converter downstream of the cylinder. The major issue with water
injection in gasoline stoichiometric engines is the opportunity to
have an incomplete combustion when the water injected is
excessive resulting in a signicant amount of fuel escaping the
The port fuel injection of water has the benet of reducing the
incoming air temperature and therefore increasing the incoming
air density. The result is more air introduced within the cylinder as
well as a reduced temperature of the air and the fuel before the
start of combustion, of the premixed and burned mixture during
combustion and of the burned gases after combustion. Direct
injection of water has the disadvantage of not inuencing the
incoming air density and temperature, but is effective on the
temperature of the unburned and burned mixture even more than
in port fuel injection. In particular, large quantities of water may be
directly injected after the end of combustion thus not impacting the
combustion evolution and increasing the pressure work for the
reduced heat losses during the expansion stroke and the steam
expansion. While the port water injection is an after-market
measure, the direct water injection requires a novel design and it
is not considered here.
The port water injection was used in F1 because it was a simple
but very effective way to control knock and temperature of gases to
turbine. Charge coolers deliver about same benets with minor
downfalls except than the increase in weight and complexity not of
major concerns in street cars but the advantage of no risk to drown
the engine. Even if the simulation results are limited to port water
injection, the coupled port and direct water injections is certainly
the novel technology that may became popular in highly loaded
turbocharged engines.
Normal demineralised water may be used in the port (or the
port and the direct) water injector. This introduces the requirement
of a water tank that however is not a major issue because the
operation of a highly turbocharged engine close to the dangerous
points requiring the water injection is quite rare during normal
driving conditions considering the normal trafc and the regulatory constraints.
The port water injector does not require same pressure levels of
the fuel direct injector. A direct water injector eventually coupled to
the port direct injector may certainly require a larger pressure but
certainly not as high as the pressure of the fuel direct injector. More
than the pressure of the water, in this case it is the temperature that
possibly requires attention with a proper engine thermal
management to increase the water temperature upstream of the
water injector by using the otherwise waste heat thus facilitating
vaporisation. This helps especially for the direct water injection
Emissions are not expected to be an issue with the three way
catalytic converter, even if certainly some experiments are needed
to optimise the exhaust where the location of the turbocharger
turbine and the catalytic converter need attention. Combustion

A. Boretti / Applied Thermal Engineering 52 (2013) 62e68


Fig. 3. Temperature to turbine, brake torque and efciency and knock index for injection of 7% water in port or no injection with stoichiometric air-to-fuel ratio with CR 13 and
CR 15.

may certainly be much more delicate, but only detailed experiments may address the issue.
4. Conclusions
Injection of water upstream of the engine cylinder has numerically proved effective in drastically reducing the temperature of

gases within the combustion chamber and at the entry of the turbine
resulting in higher power densities and better fuel conversion efciencies for same limit to knock and same temperature to turbine.
Water injection is particularly efcient. Same compression ratio,
spark advance and pressure boost combinations are not possible
with different techniques. Water injection should be included in
the design of high power densities highly turbocharged engines.


A. Boretti / Applied Thermal Engineering 52 (2013) 62e68

The port water injector coupled to a water direct injector or

a water direct injector only is possibly the best solution for novel
designs. The direct injector does not affect the density of the air
entering the cylinder, but permits to introduce water before, during
and after the combustion event. This further reduces the heat losses
and increases the steam expansion process.
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