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Old 11-27-2008, 11:03 AM   #1

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BMEP-Or why you only need 1 camshaft

Check out this site. It is about aircraft engines, but he has a lot of good technical information about engine design. It does'nt all apply to street car engines, but interesting either way. I thought it was funny that an Indy engine only makes 214 ft lbs of torque at 17000 rpm! Considering how useless this engine would be in a street car, it shows that 2 valves per cylinder is'nt so bad after all when you look at it from the BMEP.

Or another way to look at it, the torque available (and accordingly the hp) is as simple as:


Of course, the BMEP is all dependent on engine design, but it gives you an idea how much a small displacement engine has to overcome to catch up to a larger engine.

He also explains volumetric efficiency, what the practical limits are, and the tradeoffs between different engine designs, and a bunch of other topics. They also use a lot of LS engines for their conversions.

- Brake Mean Effective Pressure -
BMEP: An important performance yardstick
We have covered the topics of Thermal Efficiency and Volumetric Efficiency as methods for estimating the potential output of a given engine configuration.

Brake Mean Effective Pressure (BMEP) is another very effective yardstick for comparing the performance of one engine to another, and for evaluating the reasonableness of performance claims or requirements.

The definition of BMEP is: the average (mean) pressure which, if imposed on the pistons uniformly from the top to the bottom of each power stroke, would produce the measured (brake) power output.

Note that BMEP is purely theoretical and has nothing to do with actual cylinder pressures. It is simply an effective comparison tool.

If you work through the arithmetic, you find that BMEP is simply a multiple of the torque per cubic inch of displacement. A torque output of 1.0 lb-ft per cubic inch of displacement equals a BMEP of 150.8 psi. in a four-stroke engine and 75.4 psi. in a two-stroke engine.

(The discussion on the remainder of this page is with respect to four-stroke engines, but it applies equally to two strike engines if you simply substitute 75.4 everywhere you see 150.8)

If you know the torque and displacement of an engine, a very practical way to calculate BMEP is:

BMEP = 150.8 x TORQUE (lb-ft) / DISPLACEMENT (ci)

(Equation 8)

This tool is extremely handy to evaluate the performance which is claimed for any particular engine. For example, the 200 HP IO-360 (360 CID) and 300 HP IO-540 (540 CID) Lycomings make their rated power at 2700 RPM. At that RPM, the rated power requires 389 lb-ft and 584 lb-ft of torque respectively. (If you don't understand that calculation, CLICK HERE)

From those torque values, it is easy to see (from Equation 8 above) that both engines operate at a BMEP of about 163 PSI. (1.08 lb-ft of torque per cubic inch) at peak power. The BMEP at peak torque is slightly greater.

For a long-life, naturally-aspirated, gasoline-fueled, two-valve-per-cylinder, pushrod engine, a BMEP over 200 PSI is difficult to achieve and requires a serious development program and very specialized components.

For comparison purposes, let's look at what is commonly believed to be the very pinnacle of engine performance: Formula-1 (Grand Prix).

An F1 engine is purpose-built and essentially unrestricted. For 2006, the rules required a 90 V8 engine of 2.4 liters displacement (146.4 CID) with a maximum bore of 98mm (3.858) and a required bore spacing of 106.5 mm (4.193). The resulting stroke to achieve 2.4 liters is 39.75 mm (1.565) and is implemented with a 180 crankshaft. The typical rod length is approximately 4.016 (102 mm), for a Rod/Stroke ratio of about 2.57. These engines are typically a 4-valve-per cylinder layout with two overhead cams per bank, and pneumatic valvesprings. In addition to the few restrictions stated above, there are the following additional restrictions: (a) no beryllium compounds, (b) no MMC pistons, (c) no variable-length intake pipes, (d) one injector per cylinder, and (e) the requirement that one engine last for two race weekends.

At the end of the 2006 season, most of these F1 engines ran up to 20,000 RPM in a race, and made in the vicinity of 750 HP. One engine for which I have the figures made 755 BHP at an astonishing 19,250 RPM. At a peak power of 755 HP, the torque is 206 lb-ft and peak-power BMEP would be 212 psi. (14.63 bar). Peak torque of 214 lb-ft occurred at 17,000 RPM for a BMEP of 220 psi (15.18 bar). There can be no argument that 212 psi at 19,250 RPM is truly amazing.

However, let's look at some astounding domestic technology. The 2006 Nextel Cup engine is a severely-restricted powerplant, being derived from production components. It uses a production-based cast-iron 90 V8 block and 90 steel crankshaft, with a maximum displacement of 358 CID (5.87 liters). A typical configuration has a 4.185" bore with a 3.25" stroke and a 6.20" conrod (R/S = 1.91). Cylinder heads are similarly production-based, limited to two valves per cylinder, but highly developed. The valves are operated by a single, engineblock-mounted, flat-tappet camshaft (that's right, still no rollers as of 2007) and a pushrod / rocker-arm / coil-spring valvetrain. It is further hobbled by the requirement for a single four-barrel carburetor. Electronically-controlled ignition is not allowed, and there are minimum weight requirements for the conrods and pistons.

How does it perform? At the end of the 2006 season, the engines were producing in the neighborhood of 825 HP at 9000 RPM (and could produce more at 10,000 RPM, but engine RPM has been restricted by means of a rule limiting the final drive ratio at each venue). 825 HP at 9000 RPM requires 481 lb-ft of torque, for a peak-power BMEP of nearly 203 PSI (14.0 bar). Peak torque was typically about 520 lb-ft at 7500 RPM, for a peak BMEP of over 219 psi (15.1 bar).

THAT is truly astonishing. Compare the F1 engine figures to the Cup engine figures for a better grip on just how clever these Cup engine guys are.

To appreciate the value of this tool, suppose someone offers to sell you a 2.8 liter (171 cubic inch) Ford V6 which allegedly makes 230 HP at 5000 RPM, and is equipped with the standard iron heads and an aftermarket intake manifold and camshaft. You could evaluate the reasonableness of this claim by calculating that 230 HP at 5000 RPM requires 242 lb-ft of torque (230 x 5252 5000), and that 242 lb-ft. of torque from 171 cubic inches requires a BMEP of 213 PSI (150.8 x 242 171).

You would then dismiss the claim as preposterous because you know that if a guy could do the magic required to make that kind of performance with the stock heads and intake design, he would be renowned as one of the pre-eminent engine gurus in the world. (You would later discover that the engine rating of "230" is actually "Blantonpower", not Horsepower.)

As a matter of fact, in order to get a BMEP value of 214 from our aircraft V8, we had to use extremely well developed, high-flowing, high velocity heads, a specially-developed tuned intake and fuel injection system, very well developed roller-cam profiles and valve train components, and a host of very specialized components which we designed and manufactured.
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