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Technical Paper

Energy Enhanced Adaptive Spark Ignition for Lean Combustion Initiation

2020-04-14
2020-01-0841
For internal combustion engine systems, lean and diluted combustion is an important technology applied for fuel efficiency improvement. Because of the thermodynamic boundary conditions and the presence of in-cylinder flow, the development of a well-sustained flame kernel for lean combustion is a challenging task. Reliable spark discharge with the addition of enhanced delivered energy is thus needed at certain time durations to achieve successful combustion initiation of the lean air-fuel mixture. For a conventional transistor coil ignition system, only limited amount of energy is stored in the ignition coil. Therefore, both the energy of the spark discharge and the duration of the spark discharge are bounded. To break through the energy limit of the conventional transistor coil ignition system, in this work, an adaptive spark ignition system is introduced. The system has the ability to reconstruct the conductive ion channels whenever it is interrupted during the spark discharge.
Technical Paper

Combustion Characterization of Neat n-Butanol in an SI Engine

2020-04-14
2020-01-0334
Increasingly stringent emission standards have promoted the interest in alternate fuel sources. Because of the comparable energy density to the existing fossil fuels and renewable production, alcohol fuels may be a suitable replacement, or an additive to the gasoline/diesel fuels to meet the future emission standards with minimal modification to current engine geometry. In this research, the combustion characteristics of neat n-butanol are analyzed under spark ignition operation using a single cylinder SI engine. The fuel is injected into the intake manifold using a port-fuel injector. Two modes of charge dilution were used in this investigation to test the limits of stable engine operation, namely lean burn using excess fresh air and exhaust gas recirculation (EGR). The in-cylinder pressure measurement and subsequently, heat release analysis are used to investigate the combustion characteristics of the fuel under low load SI engine operation.
Technical Paper

Combustion Stability Improvement via Multiple Ignition Sites on a Production Engine

2020-04-14
2020-01-1115
For spark ignition (SI) engines, further improvement of engine efficiency has become the major development trend, and lean burn/EGR technologies, as well as intensified in-cylinder flow, need to be adapted to reach that target. Stronger ignition sources become more favorable under extreme lean/EGR conditions. Among the ignition technologies developed, multiple ignition sites technology has been proved to be an effective way to help with the initial flame kernel development. In this paper, a spark ignited 4-cylinder turbo-charged production engine is employed to investigate the impact of multiple ignition sites technology on engine performance under lean burn conditions. Four in-house designed 3-core sparkplugs are installed on the cylinders to replace traditional stock sparkplugs, in order to generate multiple ignition sites in the cylinders.
Technical Paper

Discharge Current Management for Diluted Combustion under Forced Flow Conditions

2020-04-14
2020-01-1118
Lean burn or EGR diluted combustion with enhanced charge motion is effective in improving the efficiency of spark ignition engines. However, the ignition process under these conditions is getting more challenging due to higher ignition energy required by the lean or diluted mixture, as well as the interactions of the gas flow on the flame kernel. Enhanced spark discharge energy is essential to initiate the combustion under these conditions. Moreover, the discharge process should be more carefully controlled to improve the effectiveness of the spark. In this study, spark ignition systems with boosted discharge energy are used to ignite diluted air-fuel mixture under forced flow conditions. The impacts of the discharge current level, the discharge duration and the discharge current profile on the ignition are investigated in detail using optical diagnosis.
Journal Article

Impact of Spark Plasma Length on Flame Kernel Development under Flow Condition

2020-04-14
2020-01-1114
Advanced ignition systems with enhanced discharge current have been extensively investigated in research, since they are highly regarded as having the potential to overcome challenges that arise when spark-ignition engines are running under lean or EGR diluted conditions. Local flow field is also of particular importance to improve the ignitability of the air-fuel mixture in SI engines as the spark plasma channel can be stretched by the flow across the spark gap, leading to longer plasma length, thus more thermal spark energy distributed to the air-fuel mixture in the vicinity of the spark plug. Research results have shown that a constantly high discharge current is effective to maintain a stable spark plasma channel with less restrikes and longer plasma holding period.
Technical Paper

Experimental Study on the Characteristics of Short Circuits and Restrikes of Spark Channels

2020-04-14
2020-01-1123
Ignition performance is critical for the implementation of diluted combustion for spark-ignition engines. The short circuit and restrike phenomena can influence the initial ignition volume and discharge duration which are important for the stable ignition processes. In this study, the short circuits and restrikes of spark channels are studied with various flow velocities, spark plug gaps and discharge energies. The development of the spark channels is captured by using the direct imaging technique with a CMOS camera equipped with an image intensifier. A multi-coil ignition system is designed to enable flexible control of discharge energies. The results show that the spark plug gap size is a critical parameter to suppress the phenomena of short circuits and restrikes. With the enlargement of spark plug gap, the maximum and average lengths of the spark channel effectively increase.
Technical Paper

A Framework for the Active Control of Corona Ignition Systems

2019-12-19
2019-01-2157
Corona ignition is a promising technology that has been demonstrated to be capable of improving the reliability of lean combustion. However, arcing is unavoidable during corona discharge. The high current surge during arcing can cause excessive damage to the corona ignition system. In this work, a control framework is proposed to help reduce and prevent arcing from happening in a corona ignition system. Experimental results are demonstrated to show the effectiveness of the proposed methodology.
Journal Article

Electrical Waveform Measurement of Spark Energy and its Effect on Lean Burn SI Engine Combustion

2019-12-19
2019-01-2159
The conventional transistor coil ignition system with coil-out energy up to 100 mJ might not be sufficient to establish a self-sustained flame kernel under lean combustion with strong in-cylinder flow motion. Further increase of the discharge current will decrease the voltage across the spark gap, which will affect the calculation of the energy delivered to the spark gap. In this paper, the relationship between the discharge current and gap voltage is investigated, and it is discovered that the spark energy doesn,t increase monotonously with the increase of the discharge current. However, engine test results still indicate a positive impact of discharge current amplitude on the engine performance.
Technical Paper

A Study of Energy Enhanced Multi-Spark Discharge Ignition in a Constant-Volume Combustion Chamber

2019-04-02
2019-01-0728
Multi-spark discharge (MSD) ignition is widely used in high-speed internal combustion engines such as racing cars, motorcycles and outboard motors in attempts to achieve multiple sparks during each ignition. In contrast to transistor coil ignition (TCI) system, MSD system can be greatly shortened the charging time in a very short time. However, when the engine speed becomes higher, the ignition will be faster, electrical energy stored in the ignition system will certainly become less, especially for MSD system. Once the energy released into the spark plug gap can’t be guaranteed sufficiently, ignition will become more difficult, and it will get worse in some harsh environment such as strong turbulence or lean fuel conditions. With these circumstances, the risks of misfire and partial combustion will increase, which can deteriorate the power outputs and exhaust emissions of internal combustion engine.
Technical Paper

Preliminary Testing of n-Butanol HCCI on High Compression Ratio Diesel Engines

2019-04-02
2019-01-0577
The control of combustion phasing in homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI) combustion is investigated with neat n-butanol in this work. HCCI is a commonly researched combustion mode, owing to its improved thermal efficiency over conventional gasoline combustion, as well as its lower nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter emissions compared to those of diesel combustion. Despite these advantages, HCCI lacks successful widespread implementation with conventional fuels, primarily due to the lack of effective combustion phasing control. In this preliminary study, chemical kinetic simulations are conducted to study the auto-ignition characteristics of n-butanol under varied background pressures, temperatures, and dilution levels using established mechanisms in CHEMKIN software. Increasing the pressure or temperature lead to a shorter ignition delay, whereas increasing the dilution by the application of exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) leads to a longer ignition delay.
Technical Paper

An Investigation of Near-Spark-Plug Flow Field and Its Effect on Spark Behavior

2019-04-02
2019-01-0718
In the recent decades, the emission and fuel efficiency regulations put forth by the emission regulation agencies have become increasingly stringent and this trend is expected to continue in future. The advanced spark ignition (SI) engines can operate under lean conditions to improve efficiency and reduce emissions. Under such lean conditions, the ignition and complete combustion of the charge mixture is a challenge because of the reduced charge reactivity. Enhancement of the in-cylinder charge motion and turbulence to increase the flame velocity, and consequently reduce the combustion duration is one possible way to improve lean combustion. The role of air motion in better air-fuel mixing and increasing the flame velocity, by enhancing turbulence has been researched extensively. However, during the ignition process, the charge motion can influence the initial spark discharge, resulting flame kernel formation, and flame propagation.
Technical Paper

Effects of Spark Discharge Energy Scheduling on Flame Kernel Formation under Quiescent and Flow Conditions

2019-04-02
2019-01-0727
The breakdown phase is considered to have the highest electric-thermal energy transfer efficiency among all the discharge modes in a conventional spark ignition process. In this study, an external capacitor is connected in parallel with the spark plug in order to enhance the discharge energy and power during the breakdown phase. A constant volume combustion chamber is used to investigate the high power spark discharge under different background pressures and with varied flow velocities. Results show that the added parallel capacitance is effective in redistributing the spark energy. With the increase in parallel capacitance, the breakdown power and energy increase, though at the cost of reduced glow phase energy. The breakdown energy also increases with the increased background pressure. Then combustion tests are carried out to study the effects of the breakdown power enhanced spark on flame propagation under both quiescent and flow conditions via optical diagnosis.
Technical Paper

Boosted Current Spark Strategy for Lean Burn Spark Ignition Engines

2018-04-03
2018-01-1133
Spark ignition systems with the capability of providing spark event with either higher current level or longer discharge duration has been developed in recent years to help IC engines towards clean combustion with higher efficiency under lean/diluted intake charge. In this research, a boosted current spark strategy was proposed to investigate the effect of spark discharge current level and discharge duration on the combustion process. Firstly, the discharge characteristics of a boosted current spark system were tested with a traditional spark plug under crossflow conditions, and results showed that the spark channel was more stable, and was stretched much longer when the discharge current was boosted. Then the boosted current strategy was used in a spark ignition engine operating under lean conditions. Boosted current was added to the spark channel with different timing, duration, and current levels.
Technical Paper

Ion Current Measurement of Diluted Combustion Using a Multi-Electrode Spark Plug

2018-04-03
2018-01-1134
Close-loop feedback combustion control is essential for improving the internal combustion engines to meet the rigorous fuel efficiency demands and emission legislations. A vital part is the combustion sensing technology that diagnoses in-cylinder combustion information promptly, such as using cylinder pressure sensor and ion current measurement. The promptness and fidelity of the diagnostic are particularly important to the potential success of using intra-cycle control for abnormal cycles such as super knocking and misfiring. Many research studies have demonstrated the use of ion-current sensing as feedback signal to control the spark ignition gasoline engines, with the spark gap shared for both ignition and ion-current detection. During the spark glow phase, the sparking current may affect the combustion ion current signal. Moreover, the electrode gap size is optimized for sparking rather than measurement of ion current.
Technical Paper

A Fuel Sensitive Ignition Delay Model for Direct Injection Diesel Engine Operating under EGR Diluted Conditions

2018-04-03
2018-01-0231
This empirical work investigates the impacts of thermodynamic parameters, such as pressure and temperature, and fuel properties, such as fuel Cetane number and aromatic contents on ignition delay in diesel engines. Systematic tests are conducted on a single-cylinder research engine to evaluate the ignition delay changes due to the fuel property differences at low, medium and high engine loads under different EGR dilution ratios. The test fuels offer a range of Cetane numbers from 28 to 54.2 and aromatic contents volume ratios from 19.4% to 46.6%. The experimental results of ignition delays are used to derive an ignition delay model modified from Arrhenius’ expression. Following the same format of Arrhenius’ equation, the model incorporates the pressure and temperature effects, and further includes the impacts of intake oxygen concentration, fuel Cetane number and aromatic contents volume ratio on the ignition delay.
Technical Paper

Ignition Improvement for Ultra-Lean Dilute Gasoline Combustion

2017-10-08
2017-01-2244
In this work, a spatially distributed spark ignition strategy was employed to improve the ignition process of well-mixed ultra-lean dilute gasoline combustion in a high compression ratio (13.1:1) single cylinder engine at partial loads. The ignition energy was distributed in the perimeter of a 3-pole igniter. It was identified that on the basis of similar total spark energy, the 3-pole ignition mode can significantly shorten the early flame kernel development period and reduce the cyclic variation of combustion phasing, for the spark timing sweep tests at λ 1.5. The effect of ignition energy level on lean-burn operation was investigated at λ 1.6. Within a relatively low ignition energy range, i.e. below 46 mJ per pole, the increase in ignition energy via ether 1 pole or 3 pole can improve the controllability over combustion phasing and reduce the variability of lean burn combustion. Higher ignition energy was required in order to enable ultra-lean engine operation with λ above 1.6.
Technical Paper

A Feasibility Study of Using DI Butanol as an Ignition Source for Dual-Fuel Combustion

2017-03-28
2017-01-0770
The combustion of dual-fuel engines usually uses a pilot flame to burn out a background fuel inside a cylinder under high compression. The background fuel can be either a gaseous fuel or a volatile liquid fuel, commonly with low reactivity to prevent premature combustion and engine knocking; whereas the pilot flame is normally set off with the direct injection of a liquid fuel with adequate reactivity that is suitable for deterministic auto-ignition with a high compression ratio. In this work, directly injected butanol is used to generate the pilot flame, while intake port injected ethanol or butanol is employed as the background fuel. Compared with the conventional diesel-only combustion, dual-fuel operations not only broaden the fuel applicability, but also enhance the potential for clean combustion, in high efficiency engines. The amount of background fuel and the scheduling of pilot flame are investigated through extensive laboratory experiments.
Technical Paper

Mode Switching to Improve Low Load Efficiency of an Ethanol-Diesel Dual-Fuel Engine

2017-03-28
2017-01-0771
The dual-fuel application using ethanol and diesel fuels can substantially improve the classical trade-off between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and smoke, especially at moderate-to-high load conditions. However, at low engine load levels, the use of a low reactivity fuel in the dual-fuel application usually leads to increased incomplete combustion products that in turn result in a significant reduction of the engine thermal efficiency. In this work, engine tests are conducted on a high compression ratio, single cylinder dual-fuel engine that incorporates the diesel direct-injection and ethanol port-injection. Engine load levels are identified, at which, diesel combustion offers better efficiency than the dual-fuel combustion while attaining low NOx and smoke emissions. Thereafter, a cycle-to-cycle based closed-loop controller is implemented for the combustion phasing and engine load control in both the diesel and dual-fuel combustion regimes.
Technical Paper

Study of Heat Release Shaping via Dual-Chamber Piston Bowl Design to Improve Ethanol-Diesel Combustion Performance

2017-03-28
2017-01-0762
In this work, an innovative piston bowl design that physically divides the combustion chamber into a central zone and a peripheral zone is employed to assist the control of the ethanol-diesel combustion process via heat release shaping. The spatial combustion zone partition divides the premixed ethanol-air mixture into two portions, and the combustion event (timing and extent) of each portion can be controlled by the temporal diesel injection scheduling. As a result, the heat release profile of ethanol-diesel dual-fuel combustion is properly shaped to avoid excessive pressure rise rates and thus to improve the engine performance. The investigation is carried out through theoretical simulation study and empirical engine tests. Parametric simulation is first performed to evaluate the effects of heat release shaping on combustion noise and engine efficiency and to provide boundary conditions for subsequent engine tests.
Technical Paper

Investigation of Multi-Pole Spark Ignition Under Lean Conditions and with EGR

2017-03-28
2017-01-0679
In order to meet the future carbon dioxide legislation, advanced clean combustion engines are tending to employ low temperature diluted combustion strategies along with intensified cylinder charge motion. The diluted mixtures are made by means of excess air admission or exhaust gas recirculation. A slower combustion speed during the early flame kernel development because of the suppressed mixture reactivity will reduce the reliability of the ignition process and the overall combustion stability. In an effort to address this issue, an ignition strategy using a multi-pole spark igniter is tested in this work. The igniter uses three electrically independent spark gaps to allow three spatially distributed spark discharges. The multi-pole spark strategy displayed more advanced combustion phasing and lower phasing variability compared to single spark discharges.
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