Initial Studies of a New Type of Ignitor: The Railplug
Initial investigations of a new type of high energy ignitor for I.C. engines are described. The ignitor is a miniaturized railgun, or “railplug.” The railplug produces a relatively large mass of high velocity plasma. These characteristics may be advantageous for initiating combustion in a number of different applications. Unlike a plasma jet ignitor, the railplug plasma is driven not only by thermodynamic expansion, but by electromagnetic forces as well. Four experimental railplug designs were evaluated using schlieren and shadowgraphy visualization to examine plasma movement and shape. Railplug current and voltage were also measured. One railplug consisting of two unenclosed parallel rails was used to demonstrate the electromagnetically induced motion of the plasma at ambient conditions. Schlieren photos showed that the plasma plume moves strongly in the direction of the electromagnetic Lorentz forces.