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Technical Paper

Railplug Ignition Operating Characteristics and Performance:A Review

2007-07-23
2007-01-1832
The basic process of spark ignition in engines has changed little over the more than 100 years since its first application. The rapid evolution of several advanced engine concepts and the refinement of existing engine designs, especially applications of power boost technology, have led to a renewed interest in advanced spark ignition concepts. The increasingly large rates of in-cylinder dilution via EGR and ultra-lean operation, combined with increases in boost pressures are placing new demands on spark ignition systems. The challenge is to achieve strong and consistent ignition of the in-cylinder mixture in every cycle, to meet performance and emissions goals while maintaining or improving the durability of ignitor. The application of railplug ignition to some of these engine systems is seen as a potential alternative to conventional spark ignition systems that may lead to improved ignition performance.
Technical Paper

Further Development of an On-Board Distillation System for Generating a Highly Volatile Cold-Start Fuel

2005-04-11
2005-01-0233
The On-Board Distillation System (OBDS) extracts, from gasoline, a highly volatile crank fuel that enables simultaneous reduction of start-up fuel enrichment and significant ignition timing retard during cold-starting. In a previous paper we reported reductions in catalyst light-off time of >50% and THC emissions reductions >50% over Phase I of the FTP drive cycle. The research presented herein is a further development of the OBDS concept. For this work, OBDS was improved to yield higher-quality start-up fuel. The PCM calibration was changed as well, in order to improve the response to intake manifold pressure transients. The test vehicle was tested over the 3-phase FTP, with exhaust gases speciated to determine NMOG and exhaust toxics emissions. Also, the effectiveness of OBDS at generating a suitable starting fuel from a high driveability index test gasoline was evaluated.
Technical Paper

A New Ignitior for Large-Bore Natural Gas Engines - Railplug Design Improvement and Optimization

2005-04-11
2005-01-0249
It is a very challenging problem to reliably ignite extremely lean mixtures, especially for the low speed, high load conditions of large-bore natural gas engines. If these engines are to be use for the distributed power generation market, it will require operation with higher boost pressures and even leaner mixtures. Both place greater demands on the ignition system. The railplug is a very promising ignition system for lean burn natural gas engines with its high-energy deposition and high velocity plasma arc. It requires care to properly design railplugs for this new application, however. For these engines, in-cylinder pressure and mixture temperature are very high at the time of ignition due to the high boost pressure. Hot spots may exist on the electrodes of the ignitor, causing pre-ignition problems. A heat transfer model is proposed in this paper to aid the railplug design. The electrode temperature was measured in an operating natural gas engine.
Technical Paper

From Spark Plugs to Railplugs – The Characteristics of a New Ignition System

2004-10-25
2004-01-2978
Ignition of extremely lean or dilute mixtures is a very challenging problem. Therefore, it is essential for the engine development engineer to understand the fundamentals and limitations of existing ignition systems. This paper presents a new railplug ignition concept, a high-energy ignition system, which can enhance ignition of very lean mixtures by means of its high-energy deposition and high velocity jet of the plasma. This paper presents initial results of tests using an inductive ignition system, a capacitor discharge ignition system, and a railplug high-energy ignition system. Discharge characteristics, such as time-resolved voltage, current, and luminous emission were measured. Spark plug and railplug ignition are compared for their effects on combustion stability of a natural gas engine. The results show that railplugs have a very strong arc-phase that can ensure the ignition of very dilute mixtures.
Technical Paper

Impact of Railplug Circuit Parameters on Energy Deposition and Durability

2003-10-27
2003-01-3135
A railplug is a new type of ignitor for SI engines. A model for optimizing energy deposition in a railplug ignition system is developed. The model is experimentally validated using a low voltage railplug ignition circuit. The effect of various ignition circuit parameters on the energy deposition and its rate are discussed. Durability of railplugs is an important factor in railplug circuit design. As for all spark ignitors, durability of a railplug decreases as energy deposition is increased. Therefore recommendations are made to minimize wear and increase durability, while depositing sufficient energy to attain ignition, using a railplug.
Technical Paper

Effects of In-cylinder Flow on Fuel Concentration at the Spark Plug, Engine Performance and Emissions in a DISI Engine

2002-03-04
2002-01-0831
A fiber optic instrumented spark plug was used to make time-resolved measurements of the fuel vapor concentration history near the spark gap in a four-valve DISI engine. Four different bulk flow were investigated. Several early and late injection timings were examined. The fuel concentration at the spark gap was correlated with IMEP. Emissions of CO, HCs, and NOx were related to the type of bulk flow. For both early and late injection the CoVs of fuel concentration were generally lowest for the weakest bulk flow which resulted in a stable stratification. Strong bulk flows convected the inhomogeneities through the measurement area near the spark plug resulting in both large intracycle and cycle-to-cycle variation in equivalence ratio at the time of ignition.
Technical Paper

Effects of Railplugs on the Dilution Tolerance of a Spark Ignition Engine

1993-08-01
931800
The results of continuing investigations of a new type of ignitor, the railplugs are reported. Previous studies have shown that railplugs can produce a high velocity jet of plasma. Additionally, railplugs have the potential of assuring ignition under adverse conditions, such as for very dilute mixtures, because the railplug plasma is both hotter and has a larger mass than the plasma generated by a spark plug. In this paper, engine data are presented to demonstrate the improved dilution tolerance obtainable with railplugs. Data acquired using a railplug are compared to results obtained using a conventional spark plug and a spark plug with a wide spark gap, both using an inductive ignition system. The present results affirm earlier, preliminary findings that railplugs can extend the dilution limit and produce faster combustion.
Technical Paper

Fuel Spray Dynamics and Fuel Vapor Concentration Near the Spark Plug in a Direct-Injected 4-Valve SI Engine

1999-03-01
1999-01-0497
The mixture preparation process was investigated in a direct-injected, 4-valve, SI engine under motored conditions. The engine had a transparent cylinder liner that allowed the fuel spray to be imaged using laser sheet Mie scattering. A fiber optic probe was used to measure the vapor phase fuel concentration history at the spark plug location between the two intake valves. The fuel injector was located on the cylinder axis. Two flow fields were examined; the stock configuration (tumble index 1.4) and a high tumble (tumble index 3.4) case created using shrouded intake valves. The fuel spray was visualized with the engine motored at 750 and 1500 RPM. Start of injection timings of 90°, 180° and 270° after TDC of intake were examined. The imaging showed that the fuel jet is greatly distorted for the high tumble condition, particularly at higher engine speeds. The tumble was large enough to cause significant cylinder wall wetting under the exhaust valves for some conditions.
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