Diesel Engine Support Systems

6 Jun

A diesel engine requires five supporting systems in order to operate: cooling, lubrication, fuel injection, air intake, and exhaust.  Depending on the size, power, and application of the diesel, these systems vary in size and complexity.

E ngine C ooling

Nearly all diesel engines rely on a liquid cooling system to transfer waste heat out of the block and internals as shown in Figure 11. The c o o l i n g sy st e m consists of a closed loop similar to that of a car engine and contains the following major components: water pump, radiator or heat exchanger , water jacket (which consists of coolant passages in the block and heads), and a thermostat.

E ngine L ubrication

An internal combustion engine would not run for even a few minutes if the moving parts were allowed to make metal-to-metal contact.  The heat generated due to the tremendous amounts of friction would melt the metals, leading to the destruction of the engine.  To prevent this, all moving parts ride on a thin film of oil that is pumped between all the moving parts of the engine.

Once between the moving parts, the oil serves two purposes.  One purpose is to lubricate the bearing surfaces.  The other purpose is to cool the bearings by absorbing the friction- generated heat.   The flow of oil to the moving parts is accomplished by the engine’s internal lubricating system.

Oil is accumulated and stored in the engine’s oil pan where one or more oil pumps take a suction and pump the oil through one or more oil filters as shown in Figure 12.  The filters clean the oil and remove any metal that the oil has picked up due to wear.  The cleaned oil then flows  up into the engine’s oil galleries.

A pressure relief valve(s) maintains oil pressure in the galleries and returns oil to the oil pan upon high pressure. The oil galleries distribute the oil to all the bearing surfaces in the engine.

Once the oil has cooled and lubricated the bearing surfaces, it flows out of the bearing and gravity-flows back into the oil pan.  In medium to large diesel engines, the oil is also cooled before being distributed into the block.  This is accomplished by either an internal or external oil cooler.  The lubrication system also supplies oil to the engine’s governor, which is discussed later in this module.

F uel System

All diesel engines require a method to store and deliver fuel to the engine.

Because diesel engines rely on injectors which are precision components with extremely tight tolerances and very small injection hole(s), the fuel delivered to the engine must be extremely clean and free of contaminants.

The fuel system must, therefore, not only deliver the fuel but also ensure its cleanliness. This is usually accomplished through a s e rie s of in-line filte rs . Commonly, the fuel will be filtered once outside the engine and then the fuel will pass through at least one more filter internal to the engine, usually located in the fuel line at each fuel injector.

In a diesel engine, the fuel system is much more complex than the fuel system on a simple gasoline engine because the fuel serves two purposes. One purpose is obviously to supply the fuel to run the engine; the other is to act as a coolant to the injectors. To meet this second purpose, diesel fuel is kept continuously flowing through the engine’s fuel system at a flow rate much higher than required to simply run the engine, an example of a fuel flowpath is shown in Figure 13. The excess fuel is routed back to the fuel pump or the fuel storage tank depending on the application.

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