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This thesis focuses on the effects of an engine's induction and exhaust systems on vehicle fuel efficiency, along with the challenges accompanying improvement of this parameter. The aim of the project was to take an unconventional approach by investigating potential

This thesis focuses on the effects of an engine's induction and exhaust systems on vehicle fuel efficiency, along with the challenges accompanying improvement of this parameter. The aim of the project was to take an unconventional approach by investigating potential methods of increasing fuel economy via change of these systems outside the engine, as finding substantial gains via this method negates the need to alter engine architectures, potentially saving manufacturers research and development costs. The ultimate goal was to determine the feasibility of modifying induction and exhaust systems to increase fuel efficiency via reduction of engine pumping losses and increase in volumetric efficiency, with the hope that this research can aid others researching engine design in both educational and commercial settings. The first step toward achieving this goal was purchasing a test vehicle and performing experimental fuel efficiency testing on the unmodified, properly serviced specimen. A test route was devised to provide for a well-rounded fuel efficiency measurement for each trial. After stock vehicle trials were completed, the vehicle was to be taken out of service for a turbocharger system installation; unfortunately, challenges arose that could not be rectified within the project timeframe, and this portion of the project was aborted, to be investigated in the future. This decision was made after numerous fitment and construction issues with prefabricated turbo conversion parts were found, including induction and exhaust pipe size problems and misalignments, kit component packaging issues such as intercooler dimensions being too large, as well as manufacturing oversights, like failure to machine flanges flat for sealing and specification of incorrect flange sizes for mating components. After returning the vehicle to stock condition by removing the partially installed turbocharger system, the next step in the project was then installation of high-flow induction and exhaust systems on the test vehicle, followed by fuel efficiency testing using the same procedure as during the first portion of the experiment. After analysis of the quantitative and qualitative data collected during this thesis project, several conclusions were made. First, the replacement of stock intake and exhaust systems with high-flow variants did make for a statistically significant increase in fuel efficiency, ranging between 10 and 20 percent on a 95% confidence interval. Average fuel efficiency of the test vehicle rose from 21.66 to 24.90 MPG, an impressive increase considering the relative simplicity of the modifications. The tradeoff made was in noise produced by the vehicle; while the high-flow induction system only resulted in increased noise under very high-load circumstances, the high-flow exhaust system created additional noise under numerous load conditions, limiting the market applicability for this system. The most ideal vehicle type for this type of setup is sports/enthusiast cars, as increased noise is often considered a desirable addition to the driving experience; light trucks also represent an excellent application opportunity for these systems, as noise is not a primary concern in production of these vehicles. Finally, it was found that investing in high-flow induction and exhaust systems may not be a wise investment at the consumer level due to the lengthy payoff period, but for manufacturers, these systems represent a lucrative opportunity to increase fuel efficiency, potentially boosting sales and profits, as well as allowing the company to more easily meet federal CAFE standards in America. After completion of this project, there are several further research directions that could be taken to expand upon what was learned. The fuel efficiency improvements realized by installing high-flow induction and exhaust systems together on a vehicle were experimentally measured during testing; determining the individual effects of each of these systems installed on a vehicle would be the next logical research step within the same vein. Noise, vibration, and harshness increases after installing these systems were also noticed during experimental trials, so another future research direction could be an investigation into reducing these unwanted effects of high-flow systems. Finally, turbocharging to increase a vehicle's fuel efficiency, the original topic of this thesis, is another very important, contemporary issue in the world of improving vehicle fuel efficiency, and with manufacturers consistently moving toward turbocharged platform development, is a prime research topic in this area of study. In conclusion, the results from this thesis project exhibit that high-flow induction and exhaust systems can substantially improve a vehicle's fuel efficiency without modifying any internal engine components. This idea of improving a vehicle's fuel economy from outside the engine will ideally be further researched, such as by investigating turbocharger systems and their ability to improve fuel efficiency, as well as be developed and implemented by others in their educational projects and commercial products.

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  • An Experimental Study of the Effect of Induction and Exhaust Systems on a Vehicle's Fuel Efficiency
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