The development of a plasma jet ignition system is described on a 4-cyl, 140 in3 engine. Performance was evaluated on the basis of combustion flame photographs in a single-cylinder engine at 20/1 A/F dynamometer tests on a modified 4-cyl engine, and cold start emissions, fuel economy, and drivability in a vehicle at 19/1 air fuel ratio.
In addition to adjustable engine variables such as air-fuel ratio and spark advance, system electrical and mechanical parameters were varied to improve combustion of lean mixtures. As examples, the air-fuel ratio range was 16-22/1, secondary ignition current was varied from 40 to 6000 mA, and plasma jet cavity and electrode geometry were optimized.
It is shown that the plasma jet produces on ignition source which penetrates the mixture ahead of the initial flame front and reduces oxides of nitrogen emission, in comparison to a conventional production combustion chamber. The reduction in oxides of nitrogen is attributed to decreased gas residence time at high temperatures and a lower gas temperature history.