High-Fidelity Numerical Modeling of Spark Plug Erosion
Spark plug erosion is critical in determining the overall efficiency of a spark ignition engine. Over its lifetime, a spark plug is subject to millions of firings. Each spark event results in material erosion due to several mechanisms such as melting, vaporization, sputtering and oxidation. With electrode wear, the inter-electrode spacing increases and a larger voltage difference is required to initiate the spark. The probability of engine misfires also increases with electrode erosion. Once a critical gap is reached, the energy in the ignition coil is not enough to cause a spark breakdown, and the spark plug must be replaced. Due to the long relevant time scales over which erosion occurs, and the difficulty of analyzing the spark plug environment during operation, determining spark plug lifetime typically requires extensive field testing. A high fidelity commercial thermal plasma solver, VizSpark is used simulate electrode erosion due to spark events.