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Publication numberUS2331912 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateOct 19, 1943
Filing dateDec 9, 1940
Publication numberUS 2331912 A, US 2331912A, US-A-2331912, US2331912 A, US2331912A
InventorsHarry B. Holthouse
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Electrical system fob internal
US 2331912 A
Abstract  available in
Images(2)
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Oct 1943. H. B. HOLTHOUSE, JR, 2,331,912

ELECTRICAL SYSTEM FOR INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINES Filed Dec. 9, 1940 2 Shegts-Sheet l J i 6 15 five/22% JQ/Z Wuea/Z Oct. 19, 1943.

|- B. HOLTHOUSE, JR

ELECTRICAL SYSTEM FOR INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINES 2 sheets-sheet 2 Filed Dec. 9, 1940 Patented Oct. 19, 1943 UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE ELECTRICAL SYSTEIH FOR INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINES Harry B. Holthouse; Jr., Chicago, 111. Application December 9, 1940, Serial No. 369,169

27 Claims This invention relates to ignition systems and in particular to a combined electrical and fuel discharge unit for internal combustion engines which are adapted to operate on fuel oil or relatively low grade gasolines. This application contains matter which has been derived from application, Serial No. 208,236, filed May 16, 1938.

In the operation of light duty engines on low grade gasolines or of heavy duty engines burning low grade fuel oils considerable difficulty has been encountered in the incomplete breaking up and conditioning of the fuel for efiicient and positive combustion. This incomplete breaking up of the fuel results in the presence of free fuel in the engine cylinders which usually-accumulates in the engine crank case and excessively dilutes the engine lubricating oil. These various difliculties are also indicated in engines of these types by their high fuel,consumption, inability to operate under heavy load without excessive smoking or to idle at slow speed without jerkiness, and inability to positively start under cold weather conditions.

In the case of Diesel engines which utilize a high tension ignition system in their operation, these difliculties are evidenced by their inability to start on fuel oil; asoline or the like being used for starting purposes. Efforts to overcome these difficulties have resulted in complicated ignition and fuel systems which have given relatively satisfactory engine operation but which have also correspondingly increased the initial engine cost and the cost of service maintenance.

It is an object of this invention, therefore, to provide an improved ignition system for internal combustion engines.

Another object of this invention is to provide an improved electrical and fuel discharge unit 'for an internal combustion engine which is adapted to improve the operation of the engine.

Yet another object of this invention is to provide an electrical and fuel discharge unit for an internal combustion engine which electrically creates turbulence, ozonization and ionization of the air and fuel mixture in such engine, whereby to improve the operating efiiciency thereof.

A further object of this invention is to provide an improved electrical and fuel discharge unit which eliminates the very small fuel orifices generally required in fuel injection nozzles of high pressure type whereby to reduce manufactll'illg and servicing costs to a minimum.

A still further object of this invention is to provide an improved electrical and fuel discharge unit for an internal combustion engine, in which the fuel is admitted into the engine cylinder at low pressure and electrically conditioned for efficient combustion by an intimate and relatively prolonged contact with the electrical discharge.

Yet another object of this invention is to provide for the starting of combustion in the cylinder-of an internal combustion engine having an electrical discharge path therein, by controlling the resistance in such path to obtain a discharge excitation of a predetermined degree.

A feature of this invention is the provision of an electrical and fuel discharge unit for an internal combustion engine which is adapted to electrostatically charge the fuel mixture in the engine cylinder and to direct the electrical charge in a direction such as to provide for a maximum turbulence of the fuel mixture in the engine cylinder in accordance with any particular engine head and piston design.

A particular feature of this invention is th provision. of an electrical and fuel discharge unit for an internal combustion engine which operates to electrostatically charge the fuel in .the cylinder of such engine, the fuel being ad- Further objects, advantages and features of this invention will be apparent from the following description-when taken in connection with the accompanying drawings in which:

Fig. 1 illustrates in schematic form an ignition system embodying the improved electrical and fuel discharge unit of this invention;

Fig. 2 is illustrated similarly to Fig. 1 and shows an engine piston in'coacting relation with the discharge electrode of the improved unit to form a complete discharge path;

Fig. 3 illustrates schematically an electrical system wherein 'two coil systems and a corresponding improved electrical and fuel discharge unit and spark.plug are provided to assure a proper conditioning and ignition of the fuel mixture in each cylinder of an engine;

Fig. 4 shows the electrical and fuel discharge unit of Figs. 1, 2, and 3, with a plurality of fuel outlets at the end of the discharge electrode;

Figs. 5 and 6 illustrate somewhat schematically modified forms of the electrical and fuel discharge unit of Fig. 1, with Fig. 6 being a fragmentary showing;

Fig. '7 is illustrated similarly to Fig. 1 and shows a ground electrode arranged in a spaced relation with respect to the discharge electrode of the improved unit to form a discharge path of a defined length, and

Fig. 8 is a fragmentary sectional view of the unit of Fig. showing the arrangement thereon of a discharge path of a defined length.

Referring to the drawings, similar numerals of reference designate similar parts throughout the various views. In Fig. 1 there is illustrated as one means of excitation for use with the electrical and fuel discharge unit of this invention, a high frequency battery system such as is described in-application, Serial No. 208,236, filed May 16, 1938, and comprising a storage battery l0, generator II for the battery, ignition switch 12, and timer contacts l5 and I! which coact with a breaker cam 18 for moving the contact l1 to make and break the ignition circuit. The coil circuit is a high frequency circuit including a kick coil l3 and a high frequency coil including a primary l4 appropriately connected into a circuit with the condenser I8 and timer points 15 and I! to provide a high frequency oscillating circuit. The condenser I6 is connected between the primary M of the high frequency coil and the ground to complete the high frequency circuit. The coil I3 is formed with a single winding and an iron core and may be described as a self inducing transformer with a high impedance which takes its maximum current at very slow speed of the engine such as may be provided in starting the engine, and this of course improves the normal starting of the engine. The efiectiveness of the coil l3 decreases somewhat as the engine speed increases. A secondary winding l9 for the high frequency coil is connected in series with the primary l4, the condenser 16 and with the electrical and fuel discharge unit 2| to form another high frequency oscillating circuit. The kick coil l3 serves to step up or boost the voltage in the primary of the high frequency coil to thereby provide a much greater output from the secondary l9 which is connected to the unit 2| providing a secondary discharge electrode.

The unit 2 I includes an insulator body 22 hav- 3 ing a single hollow tubular discharge electrode 23 supported centrally and longitudinally thereof. A terminal 24 near the top of the electrode receives a lead from a distributor 26. Two metal retaining glands or collars 21 and 28 are provided in the usual manner, the gland 28 for supporting the unit in the cylinder head 29 of an internal combustion engine and the gland 21 for tightening the unit in its supported position. The top of the electrode 23 is connected with a fuel supply line 3| from a fuel pump 32, so that fuel is admitted into the engine cylinder through the discharge electrode.

As is well known, the usual spark plug is provided with a second electrode mounted on a shell or gland corresponding to the shell 28 and formed in a manner to provide a secondary spark gap with a center electrode in an insulator. The engine itself is grounded so that the battery circuit return is accomplished through common ground connections for the battery and engine. The usual second electrode is therefore connected to the ground, and the spark discharge in the complete ignition circuit through the battery passes across the gap provided by such two electrodes. In the system of Fig. 1, however, there is no second discharge electrode and the insulator 22 and the single discharge electrode 23 are of such dimensions that the exposed end 33 of the electrode 23 is spaced as far away as possible from the bottom of the shell 28 and the cylinder head 29 as mechanical and insulation limitations in the material and configuration of these elements will permit. Where the normal gap setting for the spark plug in an ignition system of the prior art is approximately .018 inch particularly for heavy duty engines, there is no limitation in the length of the discharge path at the electrode end 33 so far as obtaining the desired results of the invention is concerned, except in the mechanical and insulation limitations in the design of the electrode and the engine.

In the operation of the electrical system of Fig. 1 it was found that turbulence and agitation of the fuel mixture was produced electro statically with either high potential D. C. or A. C.

.or a. combination of both, the fuel being electrostatically charged by its passage through the zone of intense electrostatic flux at the end 33 of the discharge electrode 23. A maximum charging of the fuel, therefore, occurs when the fuel travels in the zone of intense electrostatic flux for the longest possible period of time. This is'accomplished in the present invention by passing the fuel through the hollow electrode 23 for injection into the cylinder, so that all of the fuel for combustion passes through the zone of intense electrostatic flux at the electrode end 33. The electrical charging of the fuel in this manner assures a high degree of fuel'ionization and consequent fuel agitation by the electrostatic discharge. One theory as to this action of the electrostatic discharge on the fuel is that a high potential source of D. C. serves to electrically charge the air and fuel particles with like polarity, so that these particles are evenly spaced in a somewhat suspended state within the engine cylinder. When a high potential A. C. is used in the electrical system it appears that the fuel particles are charged with unlike polarities to effect a repelling and attracting action between the particles and hence a high turbulence of the mixture within the cylinder. Where a combinatio of 0th A. C. and D. C. is used both of the above described actions of the fuel particles are present to a degree corresponding to the proportional amounts of high potential D. C. and A. C. used in the system.

When using A. 0., good results were obtained with a frequency of between and 1500 kilocycles and an operating voltage of from 5000 to 50,000 volts. Most satisfactory engine operation, however, was obtained with a frequency of approximately 500 kilocycles and an output of approximately 30,000 volts. Due to the high velocity of the electrical discharge at the electrode end 33 the air and fuel mixture in the engine cylinder is highly agitated, which agitation is even greater than that which can be obtained by a mechanical agitation or turbulence of the air and fuel mixture. In an internal combustion engine of the solid injection type, this improved agitation is apparent in a material-1y reduced idling speed .of the engine. For instance, in one application of the invention, a heavy-duty engine of solid injection type was operated from cold start tems was approximately only /2 of its maximum speed, it is readily apparent that the improved idling speed accomplished by the improved electrical and fuel discharge unit 2! effected an appreciable saving in the fuel consumed during idling periods. The inability of engines of this type to idle slowly with the conventional systems is largely due to the reduction in the fuel injection pressure, which pressure at idling speeds falls below a value which is suflicient to properly atomize the fuel for efficient combustion. Thus at the present time it is necessary to provide rather complicated and expensive fuel injection systems for injecting the fuel into the cylinder under pressures as high as 4000 pounds per square inch to supplement the engine head design itself in the obtaining of a desired turbulence for fuel and air mixing. During the above noted idling tests, the fuel passing through the electrode 23 was of substantially droplet form so that it practically dribbled into the cylinder. Even with this low fuel pressure the engine operating results were much improved over those found when using a conventional ignition system and fuel pressures of several thousand pounds. Also with the unit 2| all smoking and objectionable exhaust odors under heavy load were substantially eliminated and at full load a much leaner fuel mixture was used without in any way affecting the power rating of the engine.

In the operation of the unit 2| let it be assumed that the engine is of two-cycle type, and that fuel is injected into the cylinder through the electrode 23 at some predetermined time during the compression stroke of the piston. In this instance the distributor 26 can be eliminated from the electrical system so that the electrode 23 is continuously excited on closing of the ignition switch I2. The fuel admitted into the engine cylinder for combustion is thus immediately ionized and agitated by the electrical discharge from the electrode end 33. This fuel and the fuel entering the cylinder is continuously charged throughout the fuel injection period, which terminates shortly before peak compression has been reached in the engine cylinder. Since the fuel particles ionized by the discharge electrode 23 becomes more concentrated as the piston moves upward, the agitation and also the ionization of the particles becomes correspondingly greater by virtue of their being more closely packed or grouped about the electrode 23. Actual ignition or burning of the fuel mixture occurs at substantially the top dead center position of the piston, the timing of this ignition being dependent upon the intensity of excitation of theelectrical discharge, as will be later explained. The elec'- trostatic discharge acting upon the fuel, however, not only agitates the fuel for a more thorough mixing with the air in the engine cylinder, but also serves to electrically condition the air and fuel into a more readily combustible mixture without the necessity of first finely atomizing the fuel. A low pressure fuel pump can thus be used, which need furnish only such pressure as will inject the fuel into the cylinder against the compression pressure therein. In engines of Diesel type, this compression pressure may be about 300 to 500 pounds per square inch. The pumps presently used in these engines operate with pressures of from 2000 to 4000 pounds per square inch due to the necessity of atomizing the fuel b mechanical means to assure it being thoroughly mixed with the air in the engine cylinder. The turbulence and ionization of the combustible vide for a proper conditioning of the air and fuel for combustion purposes. Also the electrical discharge at the end 33 of the electrode serves to keep such end from becoming dirty or carbonizing so that the fuel opening in the electrode is always clean. Clogging of the opening and the resultant operating and servicing difliculties are thus entirely eliminated. v

when .the unit 2| is used with a four-cycle engine, the distributor 26 is arranged in the electrical circuit to stop the excitation of the electrode 23 substantially concurrently with the ignition of trode being closed at the start of the intake stroke of the piston. Apart from this function of the distributor 28 the operation of the unit 2| with a four-cycle engine is the same as that above described in connection with a two-cycle engine.

It has been mentioned that the occurrence of combustion in the engine cylinder is dependent upon the intensity of the electrical discharge. Where a single electrode is excited in a completely insulated space, it is well known that a brush discharge is emitted therefrom, which does not follow a defined discharge path, but which is gradually dissipated as itprogresses further away from the electrode. In the operation of an engine, however, it is practically impossible to have the engine cylinder completely insulated, since the electrical discharge always flows to some capacity ground such as the head or block of the engine. A single electrod used in an engine cylinder, may, therefore, give four or five discharge paths to various parts of the engine block. In controlling the start of combustion by excitation, the intensity of excitation of the electrical discharge across the discharge path is determined by the voltage input at the electrode, the resistance in the discharge path and the size of the combustion space. In other words, when an electrical discharge first starts to flow from. the electrode to a portion of the engine block, this necessarily does not mean that the discharge is of sufiicient intensity to effect ignition. Thus where the voltage input is constant the excitation is controlled by a variation in the resistance in the discharge path, or where this resistance is constant by an increase in the voltage input. In the efficient operation of the electrical and fuel discharge unit 2|, a visible spark, therefore, is not necessary to accomplish efiicient combustion. In other words, the charging of the fuel by the electrical discharge may be sufiiciently intense to start ignition, and a visible spark be apparent only after the fuel has already been ignited. This occurrence of the spark after ignition is due to the fact that the resistance in the discharge path between the discharge elec-- trode and the ground capacity is reduced sufficiently by the occurrence of combustion to permit an arc to pass from the electrode to the ground.

In all cases of engine operation, whether this operation is on light or heavy fuels,. the ignition of the fuel can be started by the degree of excitation alone of the fuel. Thus assume that a heavy fuel is being used andthat an input of- 100,000 volts is necessary at thedischarge electrode 23 to sufficiently excite the fuel for ignition.

If the mechanical limitations, relative to insulation, are such that this heavy potential cannot be used in the engine, then, of course, changes must be made to ignite the fuel with a lower voltage input. This change, as above noted, might include a reduction in the space to be charged, namely, the combustion chamber, so that the excitation at a lower input is more concentrated in said space, .and an actual arc might occur at this lower input. Also a spark at a lower input can be obtained by varying the resistance of the discharge path. However, whenever it is possible to get insulation characteristics such that a high potential can be used, ignition of the fuel can b started alone by the excitation thereof. It is known, of course, that heavier fuels are more diflicult t ignite than lighter fuels, and for this reason the heavier fuels generally require a higher potential than the lighter fuels. However, since the charging of the fuel particles admitted into the engine cylinder serves to reduce the resistance in the discharge path of the discharge electrode 23, the excitation across this path becomes progressively more intense as the resistance of the path is progressively decreased by the packing of the fuel particles therein; thi packing resulting from the usual operation of the engine piston. For a certain type engin operating on a particular grade of fuel, therefore, sufficient adjustment is possible in the electrical discharge system and engine construction to provide for the ignition of fuel either through the occurrence of an actual spark or through a predetermined intensity of fuel excitation alone.

Although combustion is started equally well either from a spark or from the intensity of the electrical discharge, it has been found that a more efllcient and complete burning of the fuel is obtained when intensity of excitation is utilized for starting combustion. As a by-product of the electro-static discharge at the electrode end 33 there is a substantial generation of ozone. The maximum ozone generation appears to correspond to' the most desired frequency of discharge, namely, approximately 500 kilocycles. The generation of ozone with a frequency below come necessary to use a spark'plug and hence a second energizing circuit which is adapted to time the ignition of the fuel in the engine. Such a system is shown in Fig. 3 in which the unit 2| is used to condition the fuel mixture only and is connected into a high frequency circuit or other high potential source identical with that illustrated in Fig. 1 previously described. The fuel is ignited by a spark at a spark plug 34 which is connected into an ignition circuit which includes an ignition coil 36 energized from the storage battery l0 common to the high frequency circuit. A second timer unit with contacts l5 and I1 and a breaker I8 is connected into the ignition circuit and normally timed so that the igniting spark occurs slightly later than the electro-static discharge from the unit 2|. In this manner turbulence and ionization of the fuel and ozone generation precedes the occurrence of the spark, so that the fuel mixture is completely conditioned before it is ignited.

With a single fuel orifice in the electrode end 33 the electro-static discharge tends to follow a direction substantially parallel to the longitudinal axis of the electrode 23. However, the configuration of th electrode end 33 can be such as to direct the electro-static discharge in any desired 100 kilocycles is negligible and it appears that a there is a diminution of sufficient ozone generation above 1500 kilocycles. However, a substantial decrease in this generation of ozone has been found to occur when spark ignition is used as compared to ignition by intensity of excitation, by virtue of the fact that the sparktends to destroy or reduce the inherent capabilities of the ozone to support combustion. Thus in experiments in an open room and utilizing a spark jumping across an external gap, the odor of the ozone could be detected only in the immediate proximity 'of the spark. However, when the gap was extended so that a visible spark did not occur across the discharge path, the odor of the ozone could be detected at considerable distances from the discharge path almost immediately on the excitation thereof. Since the ozone generated as a result of the electro-static discharge acts upon the combustible fuel within the engine cylinder to oxidize the same and to make such fuel more highly combustible, it is, of course, more desirable to generate as much ozone as possible and to retain such ozone in its most active state.

In some instances, such as in the absence of such intensity of the electro-static flux as will cause combustion, due to insulation or mechanical limitations in the engine design, it might bedirection in correspondence with a particular en-.

gine design. Thus as is shown in Fig. 4, the end 33 of the electrode 2| may be closed and formed with apertures 31. Since-the fuel itself has conductive characteristics, the electrostatic discharge tends to follow the path of fuel flow so that the electrostatic flux appears to be more in-- tense at the apertures 31 whereby to provide for a high charging of the fuel passing therethrough. The fuel is thus injected into the cylinder in, a somewhat spray form without in any way affecting the extent of fuel ionization and agitation by the electro-static discharge.

Further directioning of the electrically charged fuel in the engine cylinder can be obtained by the modified forms of the unit 21- shown in Figs. 5 and 6. Referring to Fig. 5, the unit 38 is seen to include a hollow insulator body 39 having a discharge electrode 4| extending longitudinally therethrou'gh, the electrode being maintained in .the insulator by threaded engagement therewith as at 42. The unit 38 is maintained in the cylinder head 29 by a mounting collar 43 threadably secured in the head and a holding gland 44. The chamber 46 formed about the electrode 4| is provided with an inlet 41 for receiving fuel from a suitable supply source (not shown). After passing about the electrode and through the chamber 46 the fuel is injected into the engine cylinder through a ring-like orifice 48 which is formed at the lower end of the unit 38 between a differential spring valve 49 and the insulator 42, as is clearly shown. The valve 49 is of substantially mushroom shape and has its leg portion suitably mounted in the lower end of the electrode 4|, the dome portionthereof being in a covering relation with respect to the orifice 48. The valve 49 is opened in response to the fuel pressures occurring in the chamber 46, the upper edge of the dome portion being formed with serrations 5i. Since the electrostatic flux tends to be more intense at point or corner formations, the fuel passing through the orifice 48 is contacted by a plurality of electro-static discharges of high intensity as it passes from the orifice across the serrations 5|, with the direction of the electrostatic discharge being upwardly and about the lower portion of the insulator 39. The fuel is properly conditioning the fuel for combustion,

thus thoroughly ionized and agitated prior to its passage into the engine cylinder, with the zone of heavy fuel charging being also about'the insulator 39. Referring to Fig. 6 the electrical and fuel discharge unit is seen to comprise a hollow insulator 52 of tubular form, and a discharge electrode 53 axially arranged within the insulator but spaced therefrom to form a fuel chamber 54. Fuel is admitted into the chamber 54 by any suitable means, in a manner'similar to that illustrated for the chamber 46 in Fig. 5. The cylinder end 56 of the insulator 52 is of substantially ball or dome shape and is formed with radially extending apertures or fuel orifices 51. The end 58 of the electrode is of arcuate contour corresponding to the shape of the domed end 56 and is provided with radially extending projections 59 which correspond to and are in alignment with the fuel orifices 51. On excitation of the discharge electrode 53, therefore, the electrical discharge at the points or projections 59 both charges the fuel passing through the orifices and ejects such fuel at high velocity through the orifices and into the engine cylinder, By virtue of the fact that the electrical discharge imparts the ejection velocity to the fuel particles a. very low pressure fuel pump may be used to'supply fuel to the chamber 54. It is apparent, of course, that the directioning'of the fuel may be changed to other than the radial discharge shown, merely by changing the location of the apertures 51 and the corresponding projections 59 on the discharge electrode.

The electrical system and discharge unit 2| illustrated in Fig. 2 are similar to the system and unit 2| of Fig. 1. However Fig. 2 includes further a. piston 60 which is arranged in operative association with a cylinder 6| for the head 29. As previously mentioned in connection with Fig. 1, the intensity of the excitation of the fuel particles increases as the engine piston approaches its top dead center position because of the increase in excitation for a given space. With only relatively pure air in the engine cylinder the discharge path between the electrode end 33 and the nearest metal ground may have a resistance such as to prevent a discharge flow of suflicient intensity to effect ignition to pass from the electrode to the ground. However, if the resistance of the path is lowered, as by increasing the amount of charged fuel therein, a point is' reached whereby the resistance is no longer sumcient to prevent an intense electro-static discharge flow from traveling across the entire path between the electrodes and the resultant excitation of the mixture in the path is sufficient to effect combustion. The ground electrode coacting with the electrode 23 to form a discharge path may be a part of either the engine block or the piston 60. In the utilization of the piston 60 as the ground electrode, the discharge path between the electrode 23 and the piston decreases in length concurrently with an increase in the ionization of the fuel discharge path as the piston approaches its top dead center position. Since the mixture in the discharge path at this time is at maximum excitation, combustion occurs in the engine cylinder. The degree of excitation of the fuel mixture is thus utilized to start ignition; the timing of ignition for any particular engine condition being simply determined by varying the degree of excitation in the discharge path. In this manner, the unit 2| serves not only as an electrical and fuel discharge unit for degree.

but also as -a means which, in conjunction with the piston 60, times the start of ignition or combustion. When the system is operated in this manner the distributor 26 and cam l8 operate only to provide for an electrical discharge from the unit 2| ,in correspondence with the fuel ad mission into the cylinder and are not adjusted relative to the cycle position of the piston to provide for any timing of the ignition.

- A timing of the ignition by increasing the conductivity and hence excitation of the .discharge path may also be accomplished by the'unit 2| in conjunction with a stationary ground electrode such as that shown at 62 in Fig. 7, the electrode. 62 being secured in the metal holding gland 28/ In adjusting the length of the discharge path between the electrodes 23 and 62 the end 33 of the electrode 23 18 positioned a distance away from the electrode 62 such that when the engine piston is atv topv dead center and with only'relatively pure air under pressure in the cylinder 6|, only a small electricalflow occurs between the electrodes or between the electrode 23 and any adjacent metal part of the engine. However, upon the admission of fuel in the cylinder during engine operation the resistance of the path is lowered sufficiently by the fuel to permit a heavy electrical discharge to flow from the electrode end 33 to the electrode 62 which degree of excitation is sufficient to ignite the fuel.

The electrical and fuel discharge units 2|, 3B and 56 of Figs. 4,5, and 6, respectively, may be similarly operated in conjunction 'with their respective stationary ground electrodes. Thus in Fig. 4 a ground electrode 63 is secured in the metal holding gland 28 the discharge path being measured between the electrode 63 and the aperture 31 at the extreme end 33 of the electrode 23. It has been found that a concentration of electro-static flux suflicient for igniting purposes tends to beemitted from the edges of the above noted aperture. The ground electrode for the unit 38 in Fig. 5 is formed by extending the metal cap 43 downwardly about the insulator body portion 39 so that the ends 64 of the cap (Fig;

8) are near the serrations 5| formed on the differential spring valve 49. Since each serration 5| is a source of intense electro-static discharge the discharge flow occurs between one of the serrations and the nearest adjacentportion of the cap extension 64. With reference to Fig.6 the ground electrode 66 is connected to the gland 43. Since the intensity of the electro-static discharge from the electrode 53 appears to be equal at either of the apertures 51 the discharge path may be measured from one of such apertures to the ground 66'. It is thus seen that all of the above described electrical and fuel discharge units are readily applicable not only to provide for an increased agitation and ionization of the fuel for eflicient combustion purposes, but also to provide for a change in the conductive characteristics of the discharge path so that the occurence of ignition may be the result of either an actual spark across the path or by excitation I of the mixture in the path to a predetermined The invention thus provides an improved electrical and fuel discharge unit in which the discharge electrode is arranged in intimate contact with the fuel prior to its admission into the engine cylinder. By virtue of this arrangement all of the fuel is passed for a maximum period of time through a zone of intense elctro-static flux so as to be highly charged prior to its passage into the engine cylinder. Since the unit also operates to generate ozone in suflicient quantities to completely oxidize-the combustible mixture there is provided a maximum conditioning of the mixture for efficient burning and a consequent improved operation of the engine. In conjunction with. this conditioning of the mixture the fuel is also atomized by the action thereon of the intense electro-static charge at the discharge end of the electrode so that the need' for a high pressure fuel pump to atomize the fuel is entirely eliminated. The fuel pump, therefore, has only to be capable of developing a pressure sufiicient to overcome the pressure in the engine cylinder. The invention provides further for the variation in the resistivity of the discharge path in the engine cylinder by the fuel mixture so that the fuel is utilized directly in providing for the timing of ignition.

It is to be understood that only preferred embodiments of the present invention have been illustrated and described herein and that alterations thereof can be made which are within the scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.

I claim:

1. A fuel and electrical discharge unit in an ignition system for an internal combustion engine having a cylinder with a pressure therein, said unit including an insulating portion, and an electrode portion, with one of said two portions having a passage therein for the projection of fuel therethrough into said cylinder, means for injecting fuel into said cylinder against the pressure therein, said electrode portion extending through said insulating portion and having an extension at one end thereof for ejecting an electro-static discharge therefrom into said cylinder, said extension being so positioned with respect to said fuel passage that liquid fuel discharged from said passage into said cylinder is in intimate contact with the electro-static discharge from said electrode extension, with said electro-static discharge atomizing the fuel entering said cylinder.

2. A fuelnozzle for positioning within a cylinder of an internal combustion engine including an insulator element and an electrode element, said cylinder having a pressure therein, with one of said elements having a passage therein for the projection of fuel therethrough into said cylinder, means for injecting fuel into said cylinder against said pressure, said electrode element having a portion thereof adapted to direct an elec- -tro-static discharge therefrom into the fuel leaving said passage to atomize the same.

3. Means for creating electrical turbulence in the air and fuel mixture in an internal combustion engine having a cylinder, said means including a high potential electrical system, and a discharge unit adapted for mounting in said cylinder connected into said system, said unit including an insulator element and an electrode element, with one of said two elements having a passage therein for the projection of fuel therethrough into said cylinder, means for injecting fuel into said cylinder through said passage, said electrode element having a portion thereof adapted to direct an electro-static discharge into the fuel leaving said passage to agitate the same.-

4. An electrical circuit of high potential for an internal combustion engine having a cylinder and a piston normally connected to ground by said engine and operable in said cylinder, said circuit including a fuel discharge unit mounted in said cylinder and having a fixed electrode, with said piston acting as a ground to form an electrical discharge path in said cylinder with said fixed electrode, a fuel passage in said unit, said fixed electrode having a portion thereof adapted to direct an electro-static discharge therefrom into the fuel leaving said passage, with the electrical output from said circuit at said fixed electrode portion being such as to ionize the fuel between said fixed electrode and piston to vary the resistance of said electrical discharge path, such ionization of the fuel when the piston is at a substantially top dead center position providing for the flow of an electrical discharge across said discharge path of sufificient intensity to effect combustion of said fuel.

5. In a high potential electrical system for an internal combustion engine having a cylinder and a piston normally connected to ground by said engine and operable in said cylinder, the combination of an electrical discharge unit mounted in said cylinder and including a fixed electrode electrically connected in said system, with said piston acting as a ground to form a discharge path in said cylinder with said fixed electrode, and means forinjecting fuel into said cylinder at said discharge path, said fixed electrode having a portion arranged to direct an electrostatic discharge therefrom into intimate contact with the fuel entering said cylinder, with the electro-static discharge from said fixed electrode portion ionizing the injected fuel to vary the resistance of said discharge path, the resistance being such that when the piston is at a substantially top dead center position, the intensity of the electrical discharge across said discharge path is sufficient to effect the combgdstion of said fuel.

6. A method of igniting a combustible mixture at predetermined time intervals in the cylinder of an internal combustion engine having an electrical discharge path therein, which comprises directing an electro-static discharge from a high potential source into said mixture at said discharge path, generating ozone in said cylinder in a quantity sufficient to oxidize said mixture, and igniting said mixture by the timed occurrence of a predetermined excitation of the mixture at said discharge path.

7. A method of igniting a combustible mixture at predetermined time intervals in the cylinder of an internal combustion engine having a spark gap therein, which comprises directing an electrostatic discharge from a source of high potential into said mixture to agitate and ionize the mixture, and igniting said mixture by a spark, the timed occurrence of which is controlled by the intensity of the electrical charge in the mixture at said spark gap.

8. A method of igniting a combustible mixture at predetermined time intervals in the cylinder of an internal combustion engine having an electrical discharge path therein, which comprises directing an electro-static discharge from a high potential source into said mixture at said discharge path, and igniting said mixturev by the prises electrically conditioning the mixture in said cylinder by an ele'ctro-static charging thereof, and compressing said electrically conditioned mixture with said piston until the electrical discharge across said path is of sufllcient intensity to burn said mixture.

10. Means for creating electrical turbulence in the fuel mixture for an internal combustion engine having a cylinder, said means including an electrical ignition system having a discharge unit electrically connected therein, said discharge unit including an insulator portion mounted on said engine and extending toward the inside of said cylinder, an electrode portion supported in said insulator portion and adapted to project an electrostatic discharge from the cylinder end thereof, with one of said two portions having a passage therein for the projection of fuel therethrough into said cylinder, and means for projecting fuel through said passage, with said passage and the cylinder end of said electrode portion being in into said cylinder, the electro-static charge from inder end thereof, the cylinder end of said electrode being formed with a plurality 'of apertures, means for injecting fuel through said apertures said electrode being most intense at said apertures to agitate and electrically condition the fuel passing therethrough for efficient combustion in the engine cylinder. Y

15. An electrical and fuel discharge unit for an internal combustion engine having a cylinder with a pressure therein, said unit including an I insulator portion with a chamber therein mounted on said engine and extending into said cylinder, arr-electrode portion supported in said insulator portion and extending through said.

chamber into said cylinder, said chamber serving as a fuel passage and having a fuel outlet at the cylinder end thereof, means for supplying fuel to said fuel passage at a maximum pressure such position with respect to one another that'the fuel discharged from said passage into said cylinder is in intimate contact with the electrostatic discharge from said electrode portion so as to be atomized thereby.

11. Means for agitating a combustible liquid fuel including an electrical discharge unit having a liquid fuel passage therethrough, electro-static discharge means in said unit, with said fuel passage and said electro-static discharge means in said unit being so positioned with respect to one another that liquidfuel discharged from said passage is intimately mixed with an electro-static discharge from said electro-static discharge means to agitate and electrically condition said fuel mixture to promote the combustion thereof.

12. An electrical system for aninternal combustion engine including in combination a low voltage source, and a high-frequency circuit common to said low-voltage source and including therein a discharge unit, said discharge unit including an insulator portion mounted on said engine and extending toward the inside of the engine cylinder, an electrode portion supported in said insulator portion and adapted to project an electro-static discharge from the cylinder end thereof, with one of said two portions having a passage for the projection of fuel therethrough into said cylinder, said electrode being positioned relative to said passage to direct an electro-static discharge into the fuel therefrom for creating turbulence of the fuel within the engine cylinder, and means for igniting said fuel mixture including a low-frequency circuit common to said low-voltage source and including a spark plug connected into said low-frequency circuit.

13. A fuel discharge unit for an internal combustion engine having a cylinder, including an insulator portion mounted on said cylinder, a hollow electrode portion supported in said insulator portion and adapted to project an electrostatic discharge from the cylinder end thereof, and means for injecting fuel through said hollow electrode into said cylinder, the. electro-static charge from said electrode being directed into intimate contact with the fuel leaving said electrode to agitate and electrically prepare such fuel for efiicient combustion in the cylinder.

14. A fuel discharge unit for an internal combustion engine having a cylinder, including an insulator portion, a hollow electrode portion supported in said insulator portion and adapted to project an electrostatic discharge from the cylgreater than said cylinder pressure, and a spring valve in electrical connection with said electrode portion and positioned over said fuel outlet, said valve being opened in response to the maximum fuel pressure in said chamber toadmit fuel into said cylinder and adapted to project an electrostatic charge into such fuel to agitate .and electrically condition the fuel for efiicient combustion in the cylinder. 16. An electrical and fuel discharge unit for an internal combustion engine having a cylinder, said unit including an insulator portion with a chamber therein mounted on'said 'engine and extending'into said cylinder, said insulator at its cylinder end having a plurality of apertures fluid connecting said chamber with said cylinder, an electrode portion supported on said insulator portion and positioned in said chamber but spaced from the sides thereof, said space serving a a fuel passage and said apertures as an outlet for said fuel, the cylinder end of said electrode portion being provided with a plurality of projections corresponding to said apertures,- with each of said projections being adapted to emit an electrical discharge through its corresponding aperture and into said cylinder, and means for supplying fuel to said fuel passage, said electrical discharge serving to inject the fuel through said apertures into said cylinder and to electrically condition such fuel to promote the combustion thereof.

1'7. A high potential electrical system for an internal combustion engine having a cylinder, an

electrode unit electrically connected in said systemand incfiiding anv insulator portion mounted on said cylinder, a hollow electrode portion supported in said insulator portion and adapted to project an electro-static discharge from the cylinder end thereof, a ground electrode forming a'spark gap with the cylinder end of said hollow electrode, said gap being of a size to prevent the occurrence of a spark there across when said cylinder is filled with relatively pure ed on said cylinder, an electrode portion. sup-- ported on said insulator portion and adapted to emit an electro-static discharge from the cylinder end thereof, and a ground electrode forming an electrical discharge path with the cylinder end of said electrode portion, with one of said electrode and insulator portions having a passage therein for the projection therethrough of fuel into said cylinder at said discharge path, and means for injecting fuel into said cylinder through said passage, said fuel being charged by the electro-static discharge from said electrode portion, and said electrical charging varying the conductive characteristics of said fuel to in turn vary the resistivity of said discharge path to provide for the flow of an electrical discharge across said path of sufficient intensity to burn said fuel.

. 19. A high potential electrical system for an internal combustion engine having a cylinder and including therein an electrical discharge unit, said discharge unit including an insulator portion mounted on said engine and extending toward the inside of the engine cylinder, an electrode portion supported in said insulator portion and adapted to emit an electro-static discharge from the cylinder end thereof, a ground electrode forming an electrical discharge path with the cylinder end of said electrode portion, arid means for injecting fuel into said cylinder at said discharge path for intimate contact with the electro-static discharge from said electrode portion, said electro-static discharge serving to vary the conductive characteristics of said fuel, with the variation in the conductivity of said fuel changing the resistivity of said discharge path to provide for the occurrence of an electrical discharge across said path of sufficient intensity to burn said fuel.

20. A fuel and electrical unit in an ignition system for an internal combustion engine having a cylinder, said unit including an insulating portion, an electrode portion supported in said insulating portion, with one of said two portions having a fuel passage for the projection of fuel therethrough into said cylinder, an electrostatic discharge portion on said electrode, with said discharge portion being positioned to direct an electrostatic discharge into the fuel being projected through said passage into the cylinder.

21. The method of igniting a combustible mixture in a combustion chamber having an electrical discharge path therein, which comprises directing an electrostatic discharge from a high potential source into the mixture at said discharge path, and exciting the mixture to a predetermined intensity.

22. The method of igniting a combustible mixture in a combustion chamber having an electrical discharge path therein, which comprises directing an electrostatic discharge from a high potential source across said discharge path, and then increasing th intensity of said electrostatic discharge until the mixture at said discharge path is ignited.

23. A fuel discharge unit for an internal combustion engine having a cylinder, including an insulator portion mounted on said cylinder, an electrode portion supported on said insulator portion and having a fuel passage therein with an outlet, said electrode portion being adapted to project an electrostatic discharge into the fuel at said outlet to agitate *and electrically prepare the fuel for efficient combustion in the cylinder.

24. A fuel discharge unit for an internal combustion engine having a cylinder, including an insulator portion, an electrode portion supported in said insulator portion and having a fuel passage therein, and an electrostatic discharge portion on said electrode portion having apertures therein for the projection of fuel therethrough from said passage into said cylinder, the electrostatic discharge at said apertures being such as to electrically condition the fuel passing therethrough for eflicient combustion in the engine cylinder.

25. An electrical and fuel discharge unit for an internal combustion engine having a cylinder,

said unit including an insulator portion with a fuel chamber therein having an outlet for the projection of fuel therethrough into said cylinder,

an electrode portion supported in said insulating portion, and a valve portion for controlling the flow of fuel through said outlet electrically connected with said electrode portion and operated in response to the pressure of the fuel in said chamber, said valve portion being adapted to project an electrostatic discharge into the fuel passing through said outlet to electrically condition the same for efiicient combustion in said cylinder.

26. An electrical and fuel discharge unit including an insulating portion, an electrode portion supported on said insulating portion, with one of said two portions having a fuel passage therein with an outlet, and a discharge portion on said electrode portion for directing an electrical discharge into the fuel at said outlet, with said electrical discharge charging said fuel and ejecting the same from said outlet. 3

27. A high potential electrical system for an internal combustion engine having a cylinder, an electrical and fuel discharge unit including an insulating portion, anelectrode portion supported on said insulating portion, with one of said two portions having a fuel passage therein for the flow of fuel therethrough into said cylinder, an electrotstatic discharge portion on said electrode portion for charging the fuel flowing into said cylinder, and a ground electrode forming a spark gap in said cylinder with said discharge portion, said gap being such that no spark occurs thereacross when the cylinder is filled with relatively pure air, with the entering of charged fuel into said cylinder acting to vary the resistance of said gap to control the occurrence of the spark thereacross.

HARRY B. HOLTHOUSE, J R.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2451482 *Mar 22, 1945Oct 19, 1948 Sparking device
US2506664 *Oct 15, 1948May 9, 1950G A Swanson Engineering CoIgnition system
US2833842 *Jun 29, 1953May 6, 1958California Research CorpMethod and apparatus for removing combustion chamber deposits
US2844135 *Nov 8, 1954Jul 22, 1958Sun Oil CoInternal combustion process and apparatus
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WO2010069972A2 *Dec 15, 2009Jun 24, 2010Valeo Systemes De Controle MoteurFuel injection device for the direct injection engine of an automobile
WO2010069972A3 *Dec 15, 2009Nov 11, 2010Valeo Systemes De Controle MoteurFuel injection device for the direct injection engine of an automobile
Classifications
U.S. Classification123/297, 315/224, 123/169.00R, 123/638, 315/243, 123/606, 123/538, 422/906, 422/186.15
Cooperative ClassificationY10S422/906, F02M57/06