Fundamental Aspects of Jet Ignition for Natural Gas Engines

21 Aug 2017

© 2017 SAE International. Large-bore natural gas engines may use pre-chamber ignition. Despite extensive research in engine environments, the exact nature of the jet, as it exits the pre-chamber orifice, is not thoroughly understood and this leads to uncertainty in the design of such systems. In this work, a specially-designed rig comprising a quartz pre-chamber fit with an orifice and a turbulent flowing mixture outside the pre-chamber was used to study the pre-chamber flame, the jet, and the subsequent premixed flame initiation mechanism by OH* and CH* chemiluminescence. Ethylene and methane were used. The experimental results are supplemented by LES and 0D modelling, providing insights into the mass flow rate evolution at the orifice and into the nature of the fluid there. Both LES and experiment suggest that for large orifice diameters, the flow that exits the orifice is composed of a column of hot products surrounded by an annulus of unburnt pre-chamber fluid. At the interface between these layers, a cylindrical reaction zone is formed that propagates in the main chamber in the axial direction assisted by convection in the jet, but with limited propagation in the cross-stream direction. For small orifice diameters, this cylinder is too thin, and the stretch rates are too high, for a vigorous reaction zone to escape the pre-chamber, making the subsequent ignition more difficult. The methane jet flame is much weaker than the one from ethylene, consistent with the lower flame speed of methane that suggests curvature-induced quenching at the nozzle and by turbulent stretch further downstream. The velocity of the jet is too high for the ambient turbulence to influence the jet, although the latter will affect the probability of initiating the main premixed flame. The experimental and modelling results are consistent with ongoing Direct Numerical Simulations at ETH Zurich.