Reciprocating Engine Power and Efficiencies (Part Four)

in Aircraft Engines

Friction Horsepower

Friction horsepower is the indicated horsepower minus brake horsepower. It is the horsepower used by an engine in overcoming the friction of moving parts, drawing in fuel, expelling exhaust, driving oil and fuel pumps, and other engine accessories. On modern aircraft engines, this power loss through friction may be as high as 10 to 15 percent of the indicated horsepower.

Friction and Brake Mean Effective Pressures

The indicated mean effective pressure (IMEP), discussed previously, is the average pressure produced in the combustion chamber during the operating cycle and is an expression of the theoretical, frictionless power known as indicated horsepower. In addition to completely disregarding power lost to friction, indicated horsepower gives no indication of how much actual power is delivered to the propeller shaft for doing useful work. However, it is related to actual pressures that occur in the cylinder and can be used as a measure of these pressures.

To compute the friction loss and net power output, the indicated horsepower of a cylinder may be thought of as two separate powers, each producing a different effect. The first power overcomes internal friction, and the horsepower thus consumed is known as friction horsepower. The second power, known as brake horsepower, produces useful work at the propeller. That portion of IMEP that produces brake horsepower is called brake mean effective pressure (BMEP). The remaining pressure used to overcome internal friction is called friction mean effective pressure (FMEP). [Figure 1-41] IMEP is a useful expression of total cylinder power output, but is not a real physical quantity; likewise, FMEP and BMEP are theoretical but useful expressions of friction losses and net power output.

Figure 1-41. Power and pressure.

Figure 1-41. Power and pressure.

Although BMEP and FMEP have no real existence in the cylinder, they provide a convenient means of representing pressure limits or rating engine performance throughout its entire operating range. There is an operating relationship between IMEP, BMEP, and FMEP.

One of the basic limitations placed on engine operation is the pressure developed in the cylinder during combustion. In the discussion of compression ratios and indicated mean effective pressure, it was found that, within limits, increased pressure resulted in increased power. It was also noted that if the cylinder pressure were not controlled within close limits, it would impose dangerous internal loads that might result in engine failure. Therefore, it is important to have a means of determining these cylinder pressures as a protective measure and for efficient application of power.

If the bhp is known, the BMEP can be computed by means of the following equation:




Thrust Horsepower

Thrust horsepower can be considered the result of the engine and the propeller working together. If a propeller could be designed to be 100 percent efficient, the thrust and the bph would be the same. However, the efficiency of the propeller varies with the engine speed, attitude, altitude, temperature, and airspeed. Thus, the ratio of the thrust horsepower and the bhp delivered to the propeller shaft will never be equal. For example, if an engine develops 1,000 bhp, and it is used with a propeller having 85 percent efficiency, the thrust horsepower of that engine-propeller combination is 85 percent of 1,000 or 850 thrust hp. Of the four types of horsepower discussed, it is the thrust horsepower that determines the performance of the engine-propeller combination.