Air, the gift of life and the gift of flight. In this article we will discuss some differences between how air is used in two types of induction systems, a carburetor system and a fuel injection system. Both of these systems are used in small aircraft and rely on a mixture of air and fuel to operate. By converting air pressure into rotational motion, thrust and lift is created and flight is achieved.
The main differences between the two systems is in where and when fuel is introduced to airflow entering the system. In a carburetor system, air and fuel is mixed in the carburetor and then travels to each cylinder through air intakes. The release of fuel in a carburetor system can be activated either by a fuel pump or the presence of a Venturi tube that draws fuel into the airstream via suction.
In a fuel injection system, fuel is atomized through a small nozzle under high pressure and is injected into the air stream immediately before entry into each cylinder or, injected directly into each cylinder. This bypasses any need for a carburetor and ultimately creates a more precise mixture of fuel and air. A fuel pump pressurizes the fuel and the fuel/air control unit measures the amount of fuel/air mixture released into each cylinder. This automation is controlled by an aircraft’s throttle.
The key factor to take away here is that in a carburetor induction system, the fact that fuel and air is mixed inside the carburetor and then has to travel to the cylinders, creates a less reliable mixture when it finally reaches an engine’s cylinders. Fuel injection systems (standard on most new aircraft) remedy this margin of error and streamline the correct mixture right where it needs to go. In addition, these more precise mixtures can be monitored in each cylinder for their Exhaust Gas Temperature (EGT) and this information is utilized to save fuel, reduce wear on the engine, and reach ideal engine performance.
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