In this paper, a linear acoustic model is described that has proven useful in obtaining a better understanding of the nature of acoustic wave dynamics in the intake system of an internal combustion (IC) engine. The model described has been developed alongside a set of measurements made on a Ricardo E6 single cylinder research engine. The simplified linear acoustic model reported here produces a calculation of the pressure time-history in the port of an IC engine that agrees fairly well with measured data obtained on the engine fitted with a simple intake system. The model has proved useful in identifying the role of pipe resonance in the intake process and has led to the development of a simple hypothesis to explain the structure of the intake pressure time history: the early stages of the intake process are governed by the instantaneous values of the piston velocity and the open area under the valve. Thereafter resonant wave action dominates the process. The depth of the early depression caused by the moving piston governs the intensity of the wave action that follows. A pressure ratio across the valve that is favourable to inflow is maintained and maximised when the open period of the valve is such to allow at least, but no more than, one complete oscillation of the pressure at its resonant frequency to occur whilst the valve is open
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