Engine test benches are crucial instruments to perform tests on internal combustion engines. Possible purposes of these tests are to detect the engine performance, check the reliability of the components or make a proper calibration of engine control systems managing the actuations. Since many factors affect tests results in terms of performance, emissions and components durability, an engine test bench is equipped with several conditioning systems (oil, water and air temperature, air humidity, etc.).
One of the most important systems is the HVAC (Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning), that is essential to control the conditions of the intake air. Intake air temperature, pressure and humidity should be controllable test parameters, because they play a key role on the combustion development. In fact, they can heavily affect the performance detected, such as power and specific consumption, and, in some cases, they may promote knock occurrence.
This work presents an HVAC model-based control methodology, where each component of the air treatment system (humidifier, pre-heating and post-heating resistors, chiller and fan) is managed coupling open-loop and closed-loop controls. Each branch of the control model is composed of two parts, the first one to evaluate the target for the given HVAC component, based on the system physical model, the second one is a PID controller based on the difference between the set-point and the feedback values.
The control methodology has been validated on an engine test bench where the automation system has been developed on an open software Real-Time compatible platform, allowing the integration of the HVAC control with all other functionalities concerning the test management. The paper shows the plant layout, details the control strategy and finally analyzes experimental results obtained on the test bench, highlighting the benefits of the proposed HVAC management approach.