A critical study of various types of exhaust gas analyzers for gasoline engines

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Virginia Tech


It is quite common practice in automotive and aircraft engine maintenance, operation, and research to employ any one of several types of instruments now on the market for determining the air-fuel ratio by exhaust gas analysis. It was the purpose of this investigation to determine the most important operating characteristics, especially range and accuracy, of each of these types of instruments.

The theory underlying the operation of this kind of apparatus was studied critically, and certain tests were performed on representative makes in order to observe the operation of each type under service conditions. These tests consisted essentially of connecting the analyzers to the exhaust pipe of a single-cylinder engine and comparing the analyazer readings with the true air-fuel ratio determined by accurately measuring the air and fuel supplied to the engine while the instruments were being observed. This procedure was repeated for a number of different carburetor settings, all other factors being kept as nearly constant as possible during a given series of runs. The effect of variations in engine spark advance and the pressure of the gas supplied to the instruments was also investigated.

The test revealed several interesting facts. Study of the operating principles of the several instruments indicated that they were limited te air fue1 ratios below about 14 to 1, and this has been conclusively proved by these experiments. This limitation applies to thermal conductivity, hot-wire catalytic, and relative density types. W While the most expensive makes of instruments were not tested, it was found that, in general, the limit of accuracy is not greater than one-half of one air-fue1 ratio, regardless of the operating principle employed. Large variations in the pressure and rate of flow of the exhaust supplied to the analyzers were found to cause considerable deviations in those instruments which did not employ some kind of device to insure a steady and uniform supply.

Certain features of design and construction which effect the reliability of the various types of exhaust gas analyzers are also reviewed in this thesis, and some of the more important chemical methods of analysis are treated briefly.