Time-resolved fuel injector flow characterisation based on 3D laser Doppler vibrometry

Cyril Crua, Morgan Heikal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hydrodynamic turbulence and cavitation are known to play a significant role in high-pressure atomizers, but the small geometries and extreme operating conditions hinder the understanding of the flow's characteristics. Diesel internal flow experiments are generally conducted using x-ray techniques or on transparent, and often enlarged, nozzles with different orifice geometries and surface roughness to those found in production injectors. In order to enable investigations of the fuel flow inside unmodified injectors, we have developed a new experimental approach to measure time-resolved vibration spectra of diesel nozzles using a 3D laser vibrometer. The technique we propose is based on the triangulation of the vibrometer and fuel pressure transducer signals, and enables the quantitative characterisation of quasi-cyclic internal flows without requiring modifications to the injector, the working fluid, or limiting the fuel injection pressure. The vibrometer, which uses the Doppler effect to measure the velocity of a vibrating object, was used to scan injector nozzle tips during the injection event. The data were processed using a discrete Fourier transform to provide time-resolved spectra for valve-closed-orifice, minisac and microsac nozzle geometries, and injection pressures ranging from 60 to 160 MPa, hence offering unprecedented insight into cyclic cavitation and internal mechanical dynamic processes. A peak was consistently found in the spectrograms between 6 and 7.5 kHz for all nozzles and injection pressures. Further evidence of a similar spectral peak was obtained from the fuel pressure transducer and a needle lift sensor mounted into the injector body. Evidence of propagation of the nozzle oscillations to the liquid sprays was obtained by recording high-speed videos of the near-nozzle diesel jet, and computing the fast Fourier transform for a number of pixel locations at the interface of the jets. This 6-7.5 kHz frequency peak is proposed to be the natural frequency for the injector's main internal fuel line. Other spectral peaks were found between 35 and 45 kHz for certain nozzle geometries, suggesting that these particular frequencies may be linked to nozzle dependent cavitation phenomena.
Original languageEnglish
Article number125301
JournalMeasurement Science & Technology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2014

Bibliographical note

© 2014 IOP Publishing Ltd. Content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 licence. Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI.


  • diesel sprays
  • laser Doppler vibrometry
  • high-speed video
  • internal cavitating flow


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