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Actual cycle efficiency is much lower than the air standard efficiency due to various losses
occurring in the engine operation.
1. Losses due to variation of specific heat with temperature.
2. Chemical equilibrium losses or dissociation losses.
3. Time losses.
4. Losses due to incomplete combustion.
5. Direct heat losses.
6. Exhaust blow-down losses.
7. Pumping losses.

If we subtract losses due to variable specific heat and dissociation from the air standard cycle we
get fuel-air cycle analysis and if we further subtract other losses from the fuel-air cycle analysis we get
close to the actual cycle.

Difference between Real Cycle and Fuel-Air Cycle

Assuming the cycle to consist of compression and expansion strokes only, the difference between
a real cycle and its equivalent fuel-air cycle are due to following reasons.

1) Time losses
In theoretical cycle the burning is assumed to be instantaneous, whereas in actual cycle the
burning process is completed in a finite interval of time. There is simultaneous change in the volume
as the burning takes place and the crankshaft will usually turn about 40o between the time the spark
occurs and the time when the charge is completely burnt or when the maximum pressure in the cycle
is reached. Due to this effect the maximum pressure is not produced when the volume is minimum,
but is produced some time after TDC. The pressure therefore rises in the first part of the working
stroke b to c as shown in figure.. Point 3 represents the state of gases had the combustion been
instantaneous and an additional amount of work equivalent to the hatched area between ideal cycle
and real cycle would have been done. This loss of work reduces the efficiency and is called “burning
time loss” or “time loss”. In sort time loss can be defined as the loss due to time required for mixing
of fuel and for combustion.
The time taken for the burning depends upon the velocity of the flame front and the distance from
the point of ignition to the opposite side of the combustion space.

Effect of spark timing

In order that the maximum pressure is not reached too late in the expansion stroke, the time at
which burning starts is verified by varying the spark timing or spark advance. Fig below shows the
effect of spark timing in p-v diagram. With spark at TDC the pressure 3’ is low due to the expansion
of gases. If the spark is advanced to achieve the combustion at TDC additional work is required to
compress the burning gases. This represents a direct loss.

The losses may be expressed as percentage of fuel-air cycle work e.g.,

Time loss ratio = 6 %
Heat loss ratio = 12 %
Exhaust loss ratio = 2 %
The total losses are about 20 % of fuel-air cycle work.
Actual cycle/Fuel cycle = 80 %

As percentage of total losses, time losses are about 30 %, heat loss about 60 % and blowdown loss
about 10 % of total loss.
In both the above cases the work area is less and the power and efficiency are lost. Therefore a
moderate spark advance is the best compromise resulting in small losses on both the compression and
expansion strokes.