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Technical Paper

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.
Technical Paper

Multi-dimensional Modeling of Non-equilibrium Plasma for Automotive Applications

While spark-ignition (SI) engine technology is aggressively moving towards challenging (dilute and boosted) combustion regimes, advanced ignition technologies generating non-equilibrium types of plasma are being considered by the automotive industry as a potential replacement for the conventional spark-plug technology. However, there are currently no models that can describe the low-temperature plasma (LTP) ignition process in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) codes that are typically used in the multi-dimensional engine modeling community. A key question for the engine modelers that are trying to describe the non-equilibrium ignition physics concerns the plasma characteristics. A key challenge is also represented by the plasma formation timescale (nanoseconds) that can hardly be resolved within a full engine cycle simulation.
Technical Paper

Predictive Breakdown Modeling for Spark Plug Design

Spark-plug lifetime is limited by the ability of the ignition coil to generate a spark channel. Electrode erosion during operation causes the geometry to deform and the maximum voltage required to form a spark increases until the ignition coil is no longer able to form the spark channel. Numerical models that can analyze the breakdown of the plasma in a spark plug have typically been limited to vacuum electrical field simulations and full-fidelity plasma models. In the present work, we present a fast, predictive breakdown model that blends the speed and computational efficiency of electric field model and incorporates the essential physics of the breakdown event without having to pay the cost of solving the full set of plasma governing equations.
Technical Paper

Simulation of Spark-Initiated Combustion

There has been an increased interest in understanding the initial stages of flame kernel formation in internal combustion engines as it offers a potential way of improving their thermal efficiency. For spark-ignited engines, the dynamics that govern the initial spark and its transition into a flame kernel play an important role in determining the overall engine efficiency. In this regard, this paper presents a computational model developed to simulate a spark discharge formed in a premixed fuel air mixture. Additionally, by simultaneously modeling the reactive fluid dynamics that governs combustion with the electromagnetics that governs the spark, the overall objective of this paper is to consistently simulate spark-initiated combustion in a premixed fuel-air mixture. Two different fuel-oxidizer mixtures are considered in this study, hydrogen-oxygen and methane-oxygen. Key mechanisms via which the spark channel ignites the mixture are identified and studied in detail.