The Effect of Sparkplug Design on Initial Flame Kernel Development and Sparkplug Performance 2006-01-0224
Tests were conducted on a variety of commercially available spark plugs to determine the influence of igniter design on initial kernel formation and overall performance. Flame kernel formation was investigated using high-speed schlieren visualization. The flame growth rate was quantified using the area of the burned gas region. The results showed that kernel growth rate was heavily influenced by electrode geometry and configuration. The igniters were also tested in a bomb calorimeter to determine the levels of supplied and delivered energy. The typical ratio of supplied to delivered energy was 20% and igniters with a higher internal resistance delivered more energy and had faster kernel formation rates. The exception was plugs with large amounts of conductive mass near the electrodes, which had very slow kernel formation rates despite relatively high delivered energy levels. The results of the bomb and calorimeter testing were compared to lean-limit testing in a single-cylinder research engine. These tests demonstrate the utility of using simple, benchtop experiments in evaluating igniter designs and also the importance of electrode design on plug performance.