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Engine Test for Accelerated Fuel Deposit Formation on Injectors Used in Gasoline Direct Injection Engines
Paul S. Von Bacho, Jay K. Sofianek, Julie M. Galante-Fox and Charles J. McMahon
Delphi Powertrain Systems
Copyright 2009 SAE International

An accelerated fuel injector deposit formation test was developed to understand fuel deposit formation on fuel injectors for Gasoline Direct injection engines. As part of the test development, both a side mount and a central mount Gasoline Direct injection style 4 cylinder engines were operated in homogeneous mode. Initial attempts to form plugging deposits by running the engine continuously resulted in significant deposits forming on the exterior surface of the Gasoline Direct injection fuel injector tip; however, these deposits did not impact fuel flow. Ultimately, Gasoline Direct injection injector plugging was successfully accomplished using a test similar to the Port Fuel Injector test cycle presented in SAE 2005-01-3841 (1), Development of a Robust Injector Design for Superior Deposit Resistance. Test cycles included run time to reach operating temperature followed by engine soak and cool-down. Engine soak and injector tip temperatures were determined to be the most important factors contributing to injector plugging. This engine test, used in conjunction with Delphis gasoline deposit-forming fuel, resulted in an accelerated, repeatable test that formed fuel deposits resulting in fuel injector lean flow shift. Fuel deposit location and chemistry replicated deposits found on fuel injectors operated in the real world.

have been moved from the intake manifold or cylinder head into the higher temperature combustion chamber. The higher temperatures and the exposure to the combustion environment increase the risk of forming fuel injector deposits that can affect vehicle performance. The increased risk, however, does not outweigh the significant advantages of the GDi engine (2). The Coordinating Research Council USA (CRC), Coordinating European Council (CEC) and Oil and Automobile Cooperation for International Standards Japan (OACIS) published a report (3) summarizing extensive work done to develop an industry accepted GDi injector plugging engine test to evaluate fuel quality and the effectiveness of fuel additives. Papers have also been published reporting GDi injector deposit formation mechanisms (4, 5, 6, 7). Notable conclusions from these papers are summarized below. 1. GDi plugging deposits can form during continuous engine operation. 2. The maximum injector tip temperature should be more than the T90 of the fuel to accelerate deposit formation. In other words, volatilization of 90% of the fuel volume at the injector tip is needed to form deposits. 3. Injector tip temperature is one of the most important parameters in injector plugging. Temperatures ranging from 80 C (7) to 150 C (5) have been reported to be required for deposit formation. 4. Central mount engine injectors are exposed to higher temperatures compared to injectors located beneath the intake port. Central mount engine yields 10-15 C higher injector tip temperatures compared

Fuel deposits forming on Port Fuel Injector (PFI) spray orifices have been an ongoing issue for many years. In Gasoline Direct injection (GDi) engines, the fuel injectors

The Engineering Meetings Board has approved this paper for publication. It has successfully completed SAEs peer review process under the supervision of the session organizer. This process requires a minimum of three (3) reviews by industry experts. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of SAE. ISSN 0148-7191 Positions and opinions advanced in this paper are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of SAE. The author is solely responsible for the content of the paper. SAE Customer Service: Tel: 877-606-7323 (inside USA and Canada) Tel: 724-776-4970 (outside USA) Fax: 724-776-0790 Email: *9-2009-01-1495* SAE Web Address: Printed in USA

to systems with additional tip cooling from intake air and when the injector is located far from the exhaust valves. 5. To be useful, the accelerated engine test must be severe enough to produce significant (> 5%) injector flow loss. In order to test these conclusions and obtain a deeper understanding of the GDi injector deposit phenomenon, an accelerated GDi injector plugging test was developed. This paper summarizes the engine parameters and conclusions made based on the test results.

Engine Parameters Speed MAP Coolant

Units RPM kPa C

Typical Value 1500 40 110

Table 1: Typical Engine Operating Parameters.

120oC 110 C Temperature (C)


Injector Tip

Coolant Temperature Soak Run


TEST DEVELOPMENT Preliminary test development was completed on a 4 cylinder side mount GDi engine mounted on an engine dynamometer. Testing was conducted to determine the optimum engine operating parameters to maximize injector tip temperature. Engine speeds were varied from 1500 to 3000 RPM while the engine coolant was held at a constant 110 C. The manifold absolute pressure (MAP) varied from 40 to 80 kPa. GDi injector tip temperature of 118 C was achieved at 1500 RPM and 40 kPa MAP. See Figure 1.

Time (Min) Coolant Temperature Injector Tip Temperature

Figure 2: Typical GDi Injector Temperature during Test Cycle.

Tip and Coolant

Delphis proprietary PFI gasoline plugging fuel (1) was chosen for its consistent fuel properties. See Table 2 for fuel properties.
Property Distillation IBP T10 T50 T90 FBP Units deg C deg C deg C deg C deg C vol % vol % vol % ppm (wt) minutes NA NA Typical Value 36 52 103 179 193 30 25 45 385 190 10 None

120 115 Inj. Temp. (C) 110 80 105 60 1500 2000 2500 Speed (RPM) 40 MAP (kPa)

Aromatics Olefins Saturates Sulfur Oxidation Stability Peroxide number Deposit Control Additive

Figure 1: Injector Tip Temperature versus Engine Speed and MAP on 4 cylinder Side Mount GDi engine. ACCELERATED TEST The GDi injector deposit forming test was moved from the dynamometer to a free running engine to both simplify the test and reduce the overall operating costs. A 4 cylinder central mount GDi engine, the same base engine as the previously tested side mount engine, was used in the first series of free running tests. Run time was optimized to achieve engine coolant temperature of 110 C based on the optimum engine speed from the side mount engine dynamometer test. Table 1 details engine operating parameters. A hot soak (engine off) was added to the test cycle and the time was optimized to reduce engine coolant temperatures to levels similar to those previously determined for PFI deposit formation tests (1). Figure 2 shows the typical GDi injector tip and coolant peak temperatures.

Table 2: Typical Fuel Properties.


BASELINE TESTING A series of tests were performed on the central mount engine at a fuel pressure of 5 MPa to measure the variability of the test and to develop a baseline to be used as a test reference. This test reference is critical to confirming that the engine, GDi fuel injectors and fuel properties have not changed over time. The GDi fuel injectors were audited using calibration fluid at several dynamic flow points and static flow prior to each start of test. These audits were performed on flow bench using weight time measurement at 10 MPa fuel pressure. At the end of the test (200 test cycles), the GDi injectors were audited on the flow bench and the results were

compared to start of test flow audits. Injector flow shifts were repeatable with a variation less than approximately +/- 2.5%. To eliminate any influence of normal dynamic flow shift over time, the static flow values were used to calculate Injector flow shifts. Results are shown in Figure 3.
0.0% -1.0% -2.0% -3.0% -4.0%

China. These vehicles were run on commercially available gasoline obtained in-region. Infrared spectral comparisons showing comparable chemistries are shown in Figures 4 and 5. SEM/EDS analysis confirmed the presence of carbon, oxygen and sulfur in all three deposits. This confirms that the deposits on the accelerated test represent real world deposits.
90 Delphi accelerated GDI injector plugging test deposit 88 GDi injector 6 from China vehicle using commercial gasoline (China) 86 84 82 80 78 76

Flow Shift (%)



-5.2% -6.0% -7.0% -8.0% -9.0% -10.0% -11.0% -12.0% 1 2 3 4 Average -9.5% -7.4% -6.8% -6.6% -7.8%

72 70 68 66 64 62 60 58 56 54 52 50 48

-7.0% -7.2%



Cylinder Test 1 Test 2



2500 Wavenumbers (cm-1)




Figure 3: Central Mount Baseline test results. DEPOSIT ANALYSIS Microscopic Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) / Electron Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS) techniques were used to analyze the injector deposits. Analyzing the fuel injector deposits and monitoring the deposit chemistry is important when running accelerated plugging tests. The primary objective is to confirm that the deposits are chemically similar to those formed in the field. A secondary objective is to ensure that there are no unusual deposits forming that could result in erroneous conclusions. For example, early in the test development, engine oil contamination on the injector tips resulted in significant injector plugging and lean flow shifts. Although this plugging mechanism is possible in the field, for the purposes of this investigation, it was not desirable. FTIR analysis of the deposit detected the presence of polyisobutylene (PIB) infrared absorbance bands at 1230, 1366 and 1389 wavenumbers. Replacement of the head gasket, cylinder rings and bearing eliminated the PIB contamination on the injector tips, proving that the PIB deposits were from engine oil contamination. Another example of the importance of monitoring the deposit chemistry was when commercial road fuel was used in the accelerated plugging test. Significant amounts of deposit formed on the injector tips; however PIB absorbance bands were again detected in the infrared spectrum. PIB was absent in subsequent tests using unadditized fuel, suggesting that the PIB-type deposit was likely from deposit control additive in the commercial gasoline. Infrared spectra of GDi injector deposits from the accelerated plugging test were compared to GDi injector deposits from a U.S. vehicle and a vehicle tested in

Figure 4: FTIR spectra comparing GDi Engine Test and China Vehicle GDi Injector Deposits.
90 GDI injector deposit from U.S. vehicle running on commercial gasoline 88 Delphi accelerated GDI injector plugging test deposit 86 84 82 80 78 76 74 %Transmittance 72 70 68 66 64 62 60 58 56 54 52 50 48 3500 3000 2500 Wavenumbers (cm-1) 2000 1500 1000

Figure 5: FTIR spectra comparing GDi Engine Test and U.S. Vehicle GDi Injector Deposits. DISCUSSION OF THE TEST RESULTS At this point it is appropriate to consider the findings of this deposit test and to compare and contrast them to prior published work on the subject. Test Cycle: A test cycle consisting of a run and soak was required to form the fuel deposits that were significant to cause a flow shift. Continuous running of a homogeneous GDi engine (4) in good physical condition and with properly calibrated fuel rates, fuel timing and spark for emissions compliance and commercial drivability did not produce fuel deposits that caused flow shifts. Certainly engines with worn piston rings or valve guide seals that allow crankcase oil into the combustion chamber can cause deposit to form on the injector tips during continuous operation. As previously noted, deposit formed from this condition can be identified with FTIR analysis.

Fuel Type: A gasoline with low T90 is not necessary to form fuel deposits. In fact, after more than 200 cycles using a low T90 fuel, negligible flow shifts were observed. The Delphi proprietary plugging fuel has a T90 temperature of 179 C while the injector tip temperatures during the soak (where in the cycle the deposits are formed) were typically equivalent to the engine coolant temperature of 110 C. FUEL PRESSURE STUDY To understand both the test variation and the impact on fuel pressure, four tests were conducted. Two previously run tests at 5 MPa were compared to two tests that were run at 10 MPa for 200 cycles. Figure 6 details the average flow shift for all four injectors, along with the maximum lean and minimum lean flow shift of the GDi fuel injectors.
2.0% 1.0% 0.0% -1.0% -2.0%

Figure 7b: Typical Fuel Deposits at 10 MPa Fuel Pressure. INJECTOR MOUNTING LOCATION With the central mount engine test development complete, the cylinder head was changed over to the side mount cylinder head with the intent to understand mounting location impact on deposit formation. All of the engines operating parameters were held constant. Along with the cylinder head change, the GDi injector orifice design was changed to provide the proper skewed spray for the side mount application. Fuel pressure for this testing was maintained at 5 MPa to maximize deposit formation. Average lean flow shifts of 2% were observed after two tests on the side mount engine. Compared to the central mount tests, where all four injectors exhibited similar amounts of lean flow shifts, only one injector on the side mount tests exhibited the maximum lean flow shift and the other 3 exhibited lesser amounts of lean flow shift. The difference in the maximum to minimum lean shift is higher on the side mount (4 to 7%) than the central mount (2 to 3%). This resulted in a lower overall average lean shift for the side mount as compared to the central mount (average of two tests for each engine: -2.0% for side mount vs. -7.2% for central mount). At this time it is not known why there is a difference in the amount of deposit formation between central mount and side mount. Figure 8 details the lean flow shift comparison between the central mount and side mount engines.
2.0% 1.0% 0.0% -1.0% -2.0% -1.5%

Flow Shift (%)

-3.0% -4.0% -5.0% -6.0% -7.0% -8.0% -9.0% -10.0% Fuel Pressure: 5 mPa -11.0% -12.0% 1 2 3 4 Fuel Pressure: 10 mPa -6.6% -7.8% -3.7% -3.8%

Maximum Lean Flow Shift

Test # Average Flow Shift

Minimum Lean Flow Shift

Figure 6: Central Mount Lean Flow Shift Test Variation at Two Fuel Pressures. Increasing fuel pressure from 5 to 10 MPa resulted in approximately 50% reduction in the lean flow shift (average of two tests for each pressure: -7.2% at 5 MPa vs. -3.8% at 10 MPa) as tested on the central mount engine. Figure 7a and b are microscopic photographs of typical fuel deposits from the two fuel pressures. Deposits exist in both the counter bore on the exit face of the orifice and in the orifice.

Flow Shift (%)

-3.0% -4.0% -5.0% -6.0% -7.0% -8.0% -9.0% -10.0% Fuel Pressure: 5 mPa -11.0% Central Mount style Engine -12.0% 1 2 -6.6% -7.8%


Fuel Pressure: 5 mPa Side Mount style Engine 5 6

Test #

Figure 7a: Typical Fuel Deposits at 5 MPa Fuel Pressure.

Maximum Lean Flow Shift

Average Flow Shift

Minimum Lean Flow Shift

Figure 8: Side Mount vs. Central Mount Test Results.

1. Maximum GDi fuel injector tip temperatures were obtained at lower engine speed and load when varied between 1500 to 3000 RPM and 40 to 80 MAP for the specific 4 cylinder GDi engine detailed in this paper. 2. Increasing fuel pressure from 5 to 10 MPa resulted in approximately 50% reduction in the average lean flow shift (-7.2% vs. -3.8%) as tested on the central mount 4 cylinder GDi engine. 3. Central mount 4 cylinder engine had a approximately 3.5 times increase in average injector lean flow shift (-7.2% vs. -2.0%) as compared to a similar side mount 4 cylinder GDi engine tested under the same conditions (fuel pressure, rpm, MAP, and fuel). 4. Deposit chemistry was similar to deposit analyzed on GDi fuel injectors obtained off vehicles driven in the United States and China.

The authors would like to acknowledge the following people for their technical expertise and commitment to this project: Eric Marshall, Eugene Kobos, Justin Brosseau, Charles Braun and Jason Short.

3. CEC, OACIS, CRC, Report on the Work of the CEC/CRC/OACIS Task Force on the Development of a Test Method to Evaluate Fuel Quality with respect to Injector Fouling in Direct Injection Gasoline Engines, 3 April, 2007. 4. Fuquan Zhao, David L. Harrington, Ming-Chia Lai, Automotive Gasoline Direct-Injection Engines, SAE Book No. R-289. 5. Masao Kinoshita, Akinori Saito, Souichi Matsushita, Hitoshi Shibata, Yuyaka Niwa, A Method for Suppressing Formation of Deposits on Fuel Injector for Direct Injection Gasoline Engines, SAE Paper No. 1999-01-3656. 6. Allen A. Aradi, Bill Imoehl, Noyes L. Avery, Paul P. Wells, Richard W. Grosser, The Effect of Fuel Composition and Engine Operating Parameters on Injector Deposits in a High-Pressure Direct Injection Gasoline (DIG) Research Engine, SAE Paper No. 1999-01-3690. 7. Paul W. Guthrie, A Review of Fuel, Intake and Combustion System Deposit Issues Relevant to 4Stroke Gasoline Direct Injection Engines, SAE Paper No. 2001-01-1202.

Paul S. Von Bacho Sr. Project Engineer Delphi Powertrain Systems Technical Center Rochester 5500 West Henrietta Road West Henrietta, NY 14586-9701 USA Phone: (585) 359-6178 E-mail: Web:

1. Paul S. Von Bacho, Julie Galante-Fox, David W. Sant, Development of a Robust Injector Design for Superior Deposit Resistance, SAE Paper No. 200501-3841. 2. Zhao, F-Q., Lai, M-C, and Harrington, D. L., A Review of Mixture Preparation and Combustion Control Strategies for Spark-Ignited Direct Injection Gasoline Engines, SAE Technical Paper 970627 (1997),and references therein.