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Research Papers: Internal Combustion Engines

An Experimental Investigation of Early Flame Development in an Optical Spark Ignition Engine Fueled With Natural Gas

[+] Author and Article Information
Cosmin E. Dumitrescu

Center for Alternative Fuels Engines
and Emissions (CAFEE),
Center for Innovation in Gas Research and
Utilization (CIGRU),
West Virginia University,
Morgantown, WV 26506
e-mail: cosmin.dumitrescu@mail.wvu.edu

Vishnu Padmanaban

Center for Alternative Fuels Engines and
Emissions (CAFEE),
West Virginia University,
Morgantown, WV 26506
e-mail: vipadmanaban@mix.wvu.edu

Jinlong Liu

Center for Alternative Fuels Engines and
Emissions (CAFEE),
West Virginia University,
Morgantown, WV 26506
e-mail: jlliu@mix.wvu.edu

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the IC Engine Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF ENGINEERING FOR GAS TURBINES AND POWER. Manuscript received February 19, 2018; final manuscript received February 26, 2018; published online May 29, 2018. Editor: David Wisler.

J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power 140(8), 082802 (May 29, 2018) (9 pages) Paper No: GTP-18-1079; doi: 10.1115/1.4039616 History: Received February 19, 2018; Revised February 26, 2018

Improved internal combustion engine simulations of natural gas (NG) combustion under conventional and advanced combustion strategies have the potential to increase the use of NG in the transportation sector in the U.S. This study focused on the physics of turbulent flame propagation. The experiments were performed in a single-cylinder heavy-duty compression-ignition (CI) optical engine with a bowl-in piston that was converted to spark ignition (SI) NG operation. The size and growth rate of the early flame from the start of combustion (SOC) until the flame filled the camera field-of-view were correlated to combustion parameters determined from in-cylinder pressure data, under low-speed, lean-mixture, and medium-load conditions. Individual cycles showed evidence of turbulent flame wrinkling, but the cycle-averaged flame edge propagated almost circular in the two-dimensional (2D) images recorded from below. More, the flame-speed data suggested different flame propagation inside a bowl-in piston geometry compared to a typical SI engine chamber. For example, while the flame front propagated very fast inside the piston bowl, the corresponding mass fraction burn was small, which suggested a thick flame region. In addition, combustion images showed flame activity after the end of combustion (EOC) inferred from the pressure trace. All these findings support the need for further investigations of flame propagation under conditions representative of CI engine geometries, such as those in this study.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

WVU's heavy-duty single-cylinder research engine

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Fig. 2

Sample FL image data, including (a) raw image, (b) image with background noise extracted, (c) binary image, and (d) flame edge. Piston-bowl edge is visible in (a). The spark plug is in the middle of the black circular mask shown in (b), (c), and (d).

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Fig. 3

In-cylinder pressure traces (thin lines) and the mean pressure trace (thick line)

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Fig. 4

Apparent heat release rate (top) and the cumulative heat release (bottom). Thin and thick lines indicate individual cycles and their mean, respectively.

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Fig. 5

Equivalent flame radius for all imaged cycles

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Fig. 6

In-cylinder visualized area. The white area inside the bowl indicates the flame location.

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Fig. 7

Mean equivalent flame radius for all imaged cycles for the two methods used to synchronize images with the pressure trace. The mean was calculated after the radii in Fig. 4 were aligned to the same 0.5% MFB start. The error bars on case 1 show the measurement standard deviation.

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Fig. 12

Mean total pixel intensity inside the piston bowl for case 1. The location of 0.5%, 5%, and 98% MFB is also shown.

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Fig. 11

Mean expansion speed of the burned gas, ub, and the mean gas speed just ahead of the flame front, ug. Top figure shows the standard deviation of the calculation for case 1.

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Fig. 10

Burned gas Markstein length for all imaged cycles for the two methods used to synchronize images with the pressure trace. The error bars on case 1 show the standard deviation of the calculation.

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Fig. 9

Laminar and mean burning flame speed (top) and their ratio (bottom). The error bars on case 1 show the standard deviation of the calculation.

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Fig. 8

Flame propagation in individual cycles and cycle-averaged. The external black circle and the white dot in the middle of each figure indicate the piston bowl edge and spark plug location, respectively. Starting from the center of the image, the black, blue, red, green, and magenta lines (i.e., the thicker lines) show the flame location associated with 0.5%, 1%, 1.5%, 2%, and 5% MFB, respectively. While individual cycles show expected flame curvature, the cycle-averaged figure supports the assumption of a spherically propagating flame.

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