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Investigation of the effect of electrode geometry on spark ignition

Bane, Sally P. M. and Ziegler, Jack L. and Shepherd, Joseph E. (2015) Investigation of the effect of electrode geometry on spark ignition. Combustion and Flame, 162 (2). pp. 462-469. ISSN 0010-2180.

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High-speed schlieren visualization and numerical simulations are used to study the fluid mechanics following a spark discharge and the effect on the ignition process in a hydrogen–air mixture. A two-dimensional axisymmetric model of spark discharge in air and spark ignition was developed using the non-reactive and reactive Navier–Stokes equations including mass and heat diffusion. The numerical method employs structured adaptive mesh refinement software to produce highly-resolved simulations, which is critical for accurate resolution of all the physical scales of the complex fluid mechanics and chemistry. The simulations were performed with three different electrode geometries to investigate the effect of the geometry on the fluid mechanics of the evolving spark kernel and on flame formation. The computational results were compared with high-speed schlieren visualization of spark and ignition kernels. It was shown that the spark channel emits a blast wave that is spherical near the electrode surfaces and cylindrical near the center of the spark gap, and thus is highly influenced by the electrode geometry. The ensuing competition between spherical and cylindrical expansion in the spark gap and the boundary layer on the electrode surface both generate vorticity, resulting in the toroidal shape of the hot gas kernel and enhanced mixing. The temperature and rate of cooling of the hot kernel and mixing region are significantly effected by the electrode geometry and will have a critical impact on ignition. In the flanged electrode configuration the viscous effects generate a multidimensional flow field and lead to a curved flame front, a result not seen in previous work. Also, the high level of confinement by the flanges results in higher gas temperatures, suggesting that a lower ignition energy would be required. The results of this work provide new insights on the roles of the various physical phenomena in spark kernel formation and ignition, in particular the important effects of viscosity, pressure gradients, electrode geometry, and hot gas confinement.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Bane, Sally P. M.0000-0002-4764-3228
Shepherd, Joseph E.0000-0003-3181-9310
Additional Information:© 2014 The Combustion Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. Received 28 March 2014; Received in revised form 18 June 2014; Accepted 20 July 2014; Available online 21 August 2014. Sally Bane was supported by The Boeing Company through a Strategic Research and Development Relationship Agreement CTBA-GTA-1. Jack Ziegler was supported by the Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship program (DOE CSGF).
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Boeing Company Strategic Research and Development RelationshipCT-BA-GTA-1
Department of Energy (DOE)UNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Spark ignition; Flames; Electrode
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20150226-094829912
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Bane, S. P. M., Ziegler, J. L., & Shepherd, J. E. (2015). Investigation of the effect of electrode geometry on spark ignition. Combustion and Flame, 162(2), 462-469. doi:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:55243
Deposited By: Jason Perez
Deposited On:26 Feb 2015 21:10
Last Modified:27 Aug 2020 18:01

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