Further Analysis of Railplugs as a New Type of Ignitor 922167

The results of continuing investigations of a new type of ignitor, the railplug, are reported. Previous studies have shown that railplugs can produce a high velocity jet that is driven both by electromagnetic and thermal forces and that the jet velocity is strongly affected by the railplug geometry and by the electronics characteristics of the follow-on circuit. The present research was intended to provide insights about both: 1) how to match the electronics characteristics to a given geometry and 2) how the geometry affects the jet velocity. It is found that faster current rise times result in higher plasma velocities but current pulses that are too short result in rapid deceleration of the plasma while it is still within the railplug. It is also found that a fundamental geometric parameter is the ratio of the inductance gradient to the volume trapped within the railplug: the larger L′/V, the faster the resulting combustion process. Further, the influences of the geometry, rail materials, and delivered energy on electrode durability are reported. Finally, preliminary engine results are presented which indicate the potential of railplugs for improving dilution tolerance.


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