Diesel powered vehicles are gaining attention as comparatively cleaner burning, more fuel efficient modes of transportation as auto manufacturers strive to market products with major power and minimal emissions. In order to reduce emissions and regulate fuel consumption, many inline diesel motors use piezo injectors, as opposed to magnetic solenoid injectors, to regulate diesel fuel entering the motor's combustion chambers. Vehicles featuring piezo diesel injectors range from American-made pickups to smaller cars like the Volkswagen Jetta TDI. The advantages of piezo injectors are specified by the construction and components of the injector itself, although exact specifications vary by application.
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Piezo injectors are named due to their use of piezoelectricity to move the internal components of diesel injectors, and thus inject fuel to a motor's combustion chambers. Piezoelectricity in diesel injectors is created by stacking very thin layers of piezo crystals on top of one another. When a current of electricity is applied to the crystals, they automatically expand, causing the injector to spray fuel. All piezo diesel injectors feature some amount of piezo crystal, although the amount varies based on the specific application and brand of injector.
Piezo diesel injectors are characterised by their ability to operate with far more speed than injectors operated by magnetic solenoids. Due to the ability of the piezo crystals to expand and retract instantly when voltage is applied or removed, the amount of fuel being injected to the motor can be more precisely controlled. This technology, in combination with signals from the vehicle's computer systems, can help eliminate excess fuel consumption and reduce overall vehicle emissions.
In order for piezo technology to operate appropriately, all piezo diesel injectors are constructed similarly. The actuator, which controls the jet needle and ultimate flow of fuel through the injector, is positioned very near the jet needle inside of the injector housing. This design allows the actuator to move with little or no friction when pressure is applied by the expanding piezo particles and reduce the response time of the injector. Conversely, injectors that operate with magnetic actuators feature components that are spaced further from the jet needles, creating increased opportunity for friction and slower injection speeds.
Multiple Injection Capabilities
Due to the quick injection capabilities produced by the presence of piezo crystals, piezo diesel injectors are capable of spraying fuel multiple times during one combustion cycle. Conversely, other types of diesel injectors are only capable of spraying one large shot of fuel during each cycle. An increased number of small fuel injections by piezo injectors allow the injectors to compensate for slowing speeds and reduce fuel consumption as signals are received continuously from the vehicle's computer.
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- "Car and Driver"; Piezo Fuel Injectors Explained; Csaba Csere; January 2011
- Swedespeed; The Common Rail Diesel Injection System Explained; Robert Bosch GmbH; June 2004
- Truckblog; Ford Powerstroke Gets Piezo Injectors; Chris Duke; June 2006
- AutoGuide.com; 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Review; Mark Atkinson; February 2011
- Edmunds.com; Diesel Reborn; April 2009