Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Corey872

Spark Advance vs. Fuel Efficiency & Gasoline vs. E85

Recommended Posts

Just before the 4th of July I went out and did a few test runs with various spark timings to try and find an optimal cruise timing for max efficiency.  The testing and results are discussed below.

 

To conduct this test I went to a road south of town which has been built across a marshy area.  Since the road was raised for construction, it offers about 2 miles of flat surface with a posted speed limit of 65mph.  To make a test run I made sure the car was fully warmed up, uploaded a set of test parameters to the ECU.  With the parameters uploaded I started data logging, set the cruise at 65 mph and made a pass across the flat road, then turned around at the far end, set cruise at 65mph and made a pass back in the opposite direction to eliminate any effect of grade or wind. To compile the data, I cut out any acceleration, stopping, turning data and just used the steady state cruise.  A typical datalog is shown below...the gray areas weren't used for calculation - only the white steady state cruise zones:

 

Image1.jpg

 

Using this method, I left all parameters the same but varied the ignition advance in three degree increments from 31 to 47 degrees BTDC.  I left the car in closed loop mode and let the O2 sensor adjust the injectors to maintain an AFR of 14.7:1.  From the datalogs, I calculated the average injector pulse width for each complete 'down-n-back' run, then plotted the pulse width versus the ignition advance:

 

width=500 height=490http://i178.photobucket.com/albums/w269/coreyonline/Image4.jpg[/img]

 

The graph strongly indicated that there was an optimal timing of ~37-38 degrees BTDC at 65mph (~2900rpm) for my particular engine.  The shape of the curve also suggested that being slightly more advanced was preferable to being slightly less advanced 

 

Several months ago, I found that a tuning magazine did some dyno testing of an Acura RSX similar to mine, except running gasoline.  They looked at the effect of ignition advance, cam advance and AFR on overall engine efficiency - with the car running at a simulated 65 mph.  The article is online at:

 

http://www.hondatuningmagazine.com/tech/0510ht_fuel_economy_tuning/index.html

 

Of particular interest were their findings of the ignition advance versus efficiency.  Their plot is displayed below:

 

width=500 height=375http://i178.photobucket.com/albums/w269/coreyonline/gasoline.jpg[/img]

 

Their test suggested an optimal timing of ~42-43 degrees BTDC and again showed that slightly more advance is preferable to too little advance.  At first, there may seem to be a little difference between my E85 results which found maximum efficiency around 37-38 deg BTDC and Honda Tuning which found optimal timing of 42-43 deg BTDC.  But we also have to take into account the flame speed of E85 versys gasoline:

 

ethanol-gasflamespeed.jpg

 

Considering ethanol and likewise E85 has a faster flame speed than gasoline, the peak pressure in the cylinder would build faster and it stands to reason that all else being equal, E85 would like the spark to occur slightly closer to TDC (ie less advance) when compared to gasoline.  The results showed about 5 degrees less advance in this case was optimal.

 

In summary, this test showed that E85 does indeed like slightly less timing for optimal efficiency when compared to gasoline.  Additionally, in either case (E85 or gasoline) it is better to have slightly more advance than optimal compared to slightly less advance.  Efficiency is lost rather rapidly with too little advance and affected only slightly with too much advance.  Although efficiency gains can be realized by slightly reducing the timing advance when running E85, the effect is likely to be rather small - probably a gain of <0.5% and most surely <1%.  In my specific case, given an optimal gasoline advance of ~43 deg BTDC to an optimal E85 advance of ~37 deg BTDC would net approximately 0.63% efficiency gain (ie 25mpg to 25.16mpg)

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It would seem that methanol and E85 are opposed.  We found significant gains in advance made a lot more horspower in dragboat racing and made it with much less parts destruction than gasoline.

 

Our methanol was rated at roughly 120 octane.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good info Corey. How much boost were you running at this point (while at cruise)?

 

Would the boost be a factor in flame spread and are you just at factory levels?

 

This was steady state cruise, so I wasn't really under boost.  The MAP was 12.3 - 13" Hg vacuum through the runs and pretty much followed the efficiency curve as it did with the Honda Tuning tests.  The deepest vacuum meant the most efficiency.  There is no doubt that the flame speed will change with pressure.  I'm still trying to track down some info for that.  The car didn't have a turbo from the factory.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It would seem that methanol and E85 are opposed.  We found significant gains in advance made a lot more horspower in dragboat racing and made it with much less parts destruction than gasoline.

 

Our methanol was rated at roughly 120 octane.

 

I don't know that would necessarily be the case.  There are several things to keep in mind here. 

 

- The testing I did was at steady state cruise, which is about as far from 'max power' as you can get, so things may be much different when tuning on the power side. 

 

- The laminar flame speed of ethy and methy both drop as the mixture gets richer.

 

- If you are running gasoline in a high performance application, there is a possibility that the spark may be retarded from the 'optimal' position to reduce the possibility of detonation.  Switching to high octane ethy or methy may allow you to run the ideal amount of spark advance for max performance which may seem like more advance because the gasoline was artificially limited to reduce knock.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

corey872,

 

great post on optimum ign adv during cruise on e85.  could you tell me where you got the flame speed plot?  i tried finding the source using tineye and gaboya, but nothing showed up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...