Matusik, K., Duke, D., Kastengren, A., and Powell, C., "X-Ray Radiography Measurements of the Thermal Energy in Spark Ignition Plasma at Variable Ambient Conditions," SAE Int. J. Engines 10(5):2017.
The sparking behavior in an internal combustion engine affects the fuel efficiency, engine-out emissions, and general drivability of a vehicle. As emissions regulations become progressively stringent, combustion strategies, including exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), lean-burn, and turbocharging are receiving increasing attention as models of higher efficiency advanced combustion engines with reduced emissions levels. Because these new strategies affect the working environment of the spark plug, ongoing research strives to understand the influence of external factors on the spark ignition process. Due to the short time and length scales involved and the harsh environment, experimental quantification of the deposited energy from the sparking event is difficult to obtain. In this paper, we present the results of x-ray radiography measurements of spark ignition plasma generated by a conventional spark plug. These measurements were performed at the 7-BM beamline of the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory. The synchrotron x-ray source enables time-resolved measurements of the density change due to glow discharge in the spark gap with 153 ns temporal and 5 µm spatial resolutions. We explore the effects of charging time, EGR-relevant gas compositions, and gas pressure on the sparking behavior. We also quantify the influence of the measurement technique on the obtained results.