Purdue University Graduate School

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Computational Modeling of Ignition and Premixed Flame Propagation Initiated by a Pre-chamber Turbulent Jet

posted on 2023-12-09, 09:05 authored by Utsav JainUtsav Jain

Addressing the pressing need for reduced carbon emissions, Turbulent Jet Ignition (TJI) emerges as a promising technology for ultra-lean combustion, offering enhanced thermal efficiencies and minimized cyclic variability in spark-ignited engines. To facilitate rapid testing and integration of this technology, a robust computational modeling framework is crucial. This study delves into the predictive capabilities of computational models for main-chamber ignition and premixed flame propagation using a single-cycle TJI rig measured by Biswas et al. (Applied Thermal Engineering, volume 106, 2016). Employing an open-source compressible flow simulation solver with Large Eddy Simulation (LES) for turbulence modeling, the investigation integrates the conventional Laminar Finite Rate Chemistry (LFRC) model alongside the transported Probability Density Method (PDF) for turbulence-chemistry interaction. A fully-consistent Eulerian Monte-Carlo Fields (EMCF) method is utilized to approximate the transported PDF, while Interaction by Exchange with Mean is employed to close micro-mixing terms in stochastic differential equations. A reduced chemical reaction mechanism with 21 species and 84 reactions (DRM-19) is used for solving chemical kinetics, and a double Gaussian energy deposition model is used to approximate the spark ignition in the pre-chamber. An unstructured O-grid mesh with 0.3 million cells in the pre-chamber and 1 million cells in the main chamber is employed. Results are divided into two phases: pre-chamber initialization and full TJI simulations. Validation of the predicted pre-chamber flame propagation and the lean ignition in the main-chamber is carried out by using available experimental data. Under quiescent conditions, both the LFRC and transported PDF methods largely underestimate the flame speed and subsequent pressure growth in the pre-chamber. A linear momentum forcing technique is applied to investigate the impact of initial turbulence in the pre-chamber, demonstrating a notable influence on flame propagation. Fine-tuning of the forcing coefficient reproduces the sudden pressure growth observed in the experiment. The experimentally validated pre-chamber simulation serves as the initial condition for the full TJI simulations. It is found that the LFRC model fails to predict lean-ignition in the main-chamber, resulting in a misfiring event. Incorporation of turbulence-chemistry interaction using the transported PDF method substantially improves the prediction of the ignition event in the main-chamber, achieving fair qualitative agreement and quantitative validation of combustion parameters within 10% of the reported experimental data. The rich simulation results consisting of a full set of statistical description of the thermo-chemical states enable us to gain deep insights into the ignition mechanisms in the main chamber, which is limited when done experimentally. A novel dual ignition phenomenon is revealed in the TJI rig for the first time. Initially, a primary ignition kernel is formed at a downstream location which eventually detaches from the main jet. As the jet momentum decreases, a secondary ignition event follows, this time at a more upstream location which eventually combines with the primary ignition kernel to form a single connected flame front. Investigation of these ignition sequences in chemical composition space reveal distinct differences between the two. The primary ignition event in the main-chamber is followed by a large concentration of active radicals from the pre-chamber jet, accelerating the chain-branching steps, characterizing what has been referred to as flame ignition. In contrast, the secondary ignition occurs in the absence of active radicals in the pre-chamber jet, hence characterized as jet ignition. Further analysis of the effect of pre-chamber jet characteristics on lean ignition in the main-chamber is conducted by setting up cases with different initial pressure ratios (pro) between the two chambers, a non-dimensional parameter, ranging from 1.2 to 3.2. As the initial pressure ratio increases, jet momentum increases, with dual ignition observed in cases above pro= 2.2. Case with pro= 3.2 lead to misfiring. The effect of ignition sequence on global combustion characteristics of TJI is analyzed. Dual ignition events lead to non-monotonicity in combustion characteristics such as global reaction progress variable, flame penetration, and global heat release rate. In dual ignition events, although the rate of fuel consumption and global heat release rate is initially lower, the secondary ignition leads to a sudden increase in flame surface area, resulting in a sudden jump and promoting the overall performance of the TJI system.


US Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) under the Vehicle Technologies Office, Award Number DE-EE0008876


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Aeronautics and Astronautics

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Haifeng Wang

Additional Committee Member 2

Jonathan Poggie

Additional Committee Member 3

Li Qiao

Additional Committee Member 4

Terrence R. Meyer