New Oxygen Sensors for next generation of vehicles.
Wide-range oxygen sensors are set to be introduced into the next generation
of vehicles. The sensors will replace standard switching oxygen sensors that
can only determine whether the air to fuel ratio is either rich (having excess fuel)
or lean (having excess oxygen). More oxygen means the fuel is burned more
completely, improving fuel consumption and emissions levels.
US engineering firm Delphi has been working on the wide-range sensors to
improve their tolerance to engine temperatures.
The sensors will be able to give engine management systems more detailed
information on the engine's oxygen levels. The information can be used to
develop lean burning engines, able to burn less fuel at normal operating
ranges and to optimise intake during acceleration.
Thermal optimisation is crucial to implementing the technology with operating temperatures ranging from -40°C to in excess of 1000°C. The obvious approach
is to increase the size of the sensor, but longer sensors are subject to more
vibration, shortening their life-span. Shorter sensors are also easier for
customers to integrate into exhaust designs and to install.
At the other end of the vehicle, Delphi has come up with a sensor to monitor
the air available to passengers, able to detect unhealthy levels of carbon
monoxide and nitrogen oxides.
John Kirk, sensor development engineer for the firm said: "When air is low
quality, the sensor notifies the automatic climate control system, which can
close the intake vent and re-circulate air for a little while instead."
The sophisticated Intellek sensor can detect oxidising gases, such as
nitrogen oxides and "farm smells", at the same time as reducing gases,
such as carbon monoxide, without one gas masking the presence of the other.
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