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Unit injector


Unit injector

Early Lucas electronic diesel unit injector

Unit injector (UI) is an integrated direct fuel injection system for diesel engines, combining the injector nozzle and the injection pump in a single component. The plunger pump used is usually driven by a shared camshaft. In a unit injector, the device is usually lubricated and cooled by the fuel itself.


  • History 1
  • Design and technology 2
  • Operation principle 3
  • Additional functions 4
  • Further development and applications 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8


In 1911, a patent was issued in Great Britain for a unit injector resembling those in use today to Frederick Lamplough.[1]

Napier Deltic opposed-piston two-stroke, sectioned. The unit injectors are low down, below the yellow fuel passages, driven by a camshaft to their left and injecting into the centre of the cylinder liner (pale blue).

Commercial usage of unit injectors in the U.S. began in early 1930s on Winton engines powering locomotives, boats, even US Navy submarines,[2] and in 1934, Arthur Fielden was granted U.S. patent No.1,981,913[3] on the unit injector design[4] later used for the General Motors two-stroke diesel engines. Most mid-sized diesel engines used a single pump and separate injectors, but some makers, such as Detroit Diesel[5] and Electro-Motive Diesel became well known for favoring unit injectors, in which the high-pressure pump is contained within the injector itself. E.W. Kettering's 1951 ASME presentation goes into detail about the development of the modern Unit injector.[6] Also Cummins PT (pressure-time) is a form of unit injection where the fuel injectors are on a common rail fed by a low pressure pump and the injectors are actuated by a third lobe on the camshaft. The pressure determines how much fuel the injectors get and the time is determined by the cam.

In 1994, Robert Bosch GmbH supplied the first electronic unit injector for commercial vehicles, and other manufacturers soon followed. In 1995, Electro-Motive Diesel converted its 710 diesel engines to electronic fuel injection, using an EUI which replaces the UI.

Today, major manufacturers include Robert Bosch GmbH, CAT,[7] Cummins,[8] Delphi,[9][10] Detroit Diesel, Electro-Motive Diesel.[11]

Design and technology

Design of the unit injector eliminates the need for high-pressure fuel pipes, and with that their associated failures, as well as allowing for much higher injection pressure to occur. The unit injector system allows accurate injection timing, and amount control as in the common rail system .[12]

The unit injector is fitted into the engine cylinder head, where the fuel is supplied via integral ducts machined directly into the cylinder head. Each injector has its own pumping element, and in the case of electronic control, a fuel solenoid valve as well. The fuel system is divided into the low pressure (<500 kPa) fuel supply system, and the high-pressure injection system (<2000 bar).[13]

Operation principle

Animated cut through diagram of a typical fuel injector (click to see animation)
Delphi E1 UI on the Volvo D13A engine
Delphi E1 unit injector parts

The basic operation can be described as a sequence of four separate phases: the filling phase, the spill phase, the injection phase, and the pressure reduction phase.

A low pressure fuel delivery pump supplies filtered diesel fuel into the cylinder head fuel ducts, and into each injector fuel port of constant stroke pump plunger injector, which is overhead camshaft operated.

Fill phase
The constant stroke pump element on the way up draws fuel from the supply duct in to the chamber, and as long as electric solenoid valve remains de-energized fuel line is open.
Spill phase
The pump element is on the way down, and as long as solenoid valve remains de-energized the fuel line is open and fuel flows in through into the return duct.
Injection phase
The pump element is still on the way down, the solenoid is now energized and fuel line is now closed. The fuel can not pass back into return duct, and is now compressed by the plunger until pressure exceeds specific "opening" pressure, and the injector nozzle needle lifts, allowing fuel to be injected into the combustion chamber.
Pressure reduction phase
The plunger is still on its way down, the engine ECU de-energizes the solenoid when required quantity of fuel is delivered, the fuel valve opens, fuel can flow back into return duct, causing pressure drop, which in turn causes the injector nozzle needle to shut, hence no more fuel is injected.
The start of an injection is controlled by the solenoid closing point, and the injected fuel quantity is determined by the closing time, which is the length of time the solenoid remains closed. The solenoid operation is fully controlled by the engine ECU.

Additional functions

The use of electronic control allows for special functions; such as temperature controlled injection timing, cylinder balancing (smooth idle), switching off individual cylinders under part load for further reduction in emissions and fuel consumption, and multi-pulse injection (more than one injection occurrence during one engine cycle).

Further development and applications

In 1993, CAT introduced "hydraulically actuated electronic unit injection" (HEUI), where the injectors are no longer camshaft-operated. First available on Navistar's 7.3L /444 cuin, V8 diesel engine. HEUI uses engine oil pressure to power high-pressure fuel injection, where usual method of unit injector operation is the engine camshaft.

Unit injector fuel systems are being used on wide variety of vehicles and engines; commercial vehicle from manufacturers such as Volvo, Cummins, Detroit Diesel, CAT, passenger vehicles from manufacturers such as Land Rover and Volkswagen Group, among others, and locomotives from Electro-Motive Diesel.

Bosch UI on a Scania R164 V8 engine

The Volkswagen Group mainstream marques used unit injector systems (branded "Pumpe Düse",[14] commonly appreviated to "PD") in their Suction Diesel Injection (SDI) and Turbocharged Direct Injection (TDI) diesel engines,[15] however this fuel injection method has been superseded by a common-rail design, such as the new 1.6 TDI.

  • In North America, the Volkswagen Jetta, Golf, and New Beetle TDI 2004–2006 are Pumpe Düse[16] (available in both the MK4 and MK5 generations, with BEW and BRM engine codes respectively, older models use timing belt driven injection pump).

Volkswagen Group major-interest truck and diesel engine maker Scania AB also use the unit injector system, which they call "Pumpe-Düse-Einspritzung", or "PDE".

See also


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  16. ^ Volkswagen Mk4 turbodiesel "how to" index, for 2004–2005 Jettas and 2004–2006 New Beetles and Golfs


  • Diesel Fuel Injection published by Robert Bosch GmbH, 1994 ISBN 1-56091-542-0
  • Diesel Engines and Fuel Systems by A. Asmus & B. Wellington, 1988 ISBN 0-7299-0013-4
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