Time-Resolved X-Ray Radiography of Spark Ignition Plasma
Understanding the short-lived structure of the plasma that forms between the electrodes of a spark plug is crucial to the development of improved ignition models for SI engines. However, measuring the amount of energy deposited in the gas directly and non-intrusively is difficult, due to the short time scales and small length scales involved. The breakdown of the spark gap occurs at nanosecond time scales, followed by an arc phase lasting a few microseconds. Finally, a glow discharge phase occurs over several milliseconds. It is during the arc and glow discharge phases that most of the heat transfer from the plasma to the electrodes and combustion gases occurs. Light emission can be used to measure an average temperature, but micron spatial resolution is required to make localized measurements.