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In-Cylinder Pressure

Key Takeaways

  • In-cylinder pressure is the pressure generated inside the combustion chamber of an internal combustion engine.

  • The analysis of in-cylinder pressure provides insight into the combustion process and its impact on the performance of the engine. 

  • CFD modeling captures the flow behavior to help make predictions on the engine’s power and torque output, emission, and fuel consumption. 

Let us consider a four-stroke diesel engine, which includes the intake, compression, combustion, and exhaust cycle. 

In the intake stroke, the piston moves up and compresses the air, increasing the air pressure and temperature.

The fuel is then introduced into the cylinder, which ignites immediately due to the superheated condition of the air. 

The combustion causes the pressure to rise during the power stroke, which pushes the piston down, generating the power.

The piston then returns to its original position once the exhaust valve opens and pushes the used gases out.

This is the perfect example to understand the in-cylinder pressure and its impact on the performance of the internal combustion engine.

In-cylinder pressure is the pressure generated due to combustion inside the cylinder or combustion chamber of an internal combustion engine.

In this article, we will take a look into the analysis of in-cylinder pressure and the role it plays in improving engine performance.

In-Cylinder Pressure Analysis

In-cylinder pressure provides important information about the combustion process and stresses in the engine. This information is crucial when identifying the design and optimization factors for an internal combustion engine. For this, the analysis assumes the ideal gas law, which establishes a relationship between the pressure, volume, and temperature of the gas. The equation for the ideal gas can be mathematically written as:

Here, p is the in-cylinder pressure, n is the number of moles of the gas, T is the temperature of the gas inside the cylinder, and V is the volume of the cylinder. R is the ideal gas constant, which equals 8.314 J/mol K.

It is important to note that the above formula is for the gas in an ideal condition, which may be difficult to meet in the real engine where factors such as combustion or heat transfer can influence the pressure. 

Nevertheless, the calculation and analysis of the in-cylinder pressure provide insight into the following aspects of the internal combustion engine. 

Combustion process

The pressure data can be analyzed to determine the start and end of combustion, the fluctuation of this pressure, and the rate at which this combustion takes place.

Engine performance

In-cylinder pressure analysis facilitates understanding of the quality of combustion, i.e., its timing, rate, stability, and stress developed. These factors affect the engine output – power and torque – i.e., the engine's performance.

Engine durability

The pressure data can be used to determine the thermal and mechanical stress developed in the engine – the factors that influence the durability of the engine.


The analysis of combustion timing and stability provides insight into the emissions produced during the combustion process including those of NOx, CO, UHC, etc.

Simulating In-Cylinder Pressure Distribution in Internal Combustion Engines

Simulating the pressure inside the combustion chamber of an internal combustion engine provides valuable information about the flow, combustion, heat release, emissions, and ultimately the performance of the engine. These are also the key information required to optimize the engine parameters. Pressure distribution analysis and design optimization is made possible with computational fluid dynamics (CFD)

CFD simulation involves multiple steps for modeling the flow and solving the fluid-related equation for making predictions. The basic outline for the analysis includes:

Define geometry

The first step in CFD modeling is to define the geometry of the cylinder such that it accurately represents the shape and size of the cylinder and its components.

Generate mesh

Discretize the geometry into finite, smaller cells. The mesh should be fine enough to capture the complexity of flow within the domain. The quality of the mesh is important in ensuring the accuracy of the simulation.

Solve equation

Solve the equation associated with the fluid flow. The RANS equation is commonly used for in-cylinder pressure analysis when CFD modeling, as they describe the relationship between pressure, velocity, and other properties of the fluid.

Validate model

The final step is the validation of the result from the simulation. The in-cylinder pressure distribution predicted from the simulation can be compared with the data from the pressure transducer to verify the accuracy of the CFD model.

In-Cylinder Pressure Analysis for Optimal Engine Design

In-cylinder pressure is directly related to the performance of the engine. The analysis of pressure distribution is useful in predicting the engine's power and torque output, emission, and fuel consumption. The accuracy of the prediction can be enhanced through CFD modeling, which can not only help in capturing the flow features but also facilitate solving the associated flow equations. CFD tools such as Fidelity and Fidelity Pointwise from Cadence are great assets for such analysis.

The insight into the flow behavior in the engine means the parameter such as in-cylinder pressure, which directly affects the performance, can be identified and optimized for better results, i.e., better performance, efficiency, and reliability. 

Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest CFD updates or browse Cadence’s suite of CFD software, including Fidelity and Fidelity Pointwise, to learn more about how Cadence has the solution for you. 

About the Author

With an industry-leading meshing approach and a robust host of solver and post-processing capabilities, Cadence Fidelity provides a comprehensive Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) workflow for applications including propulsion, aerodynamics, hydrodynamics, and combustion.

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