SWIRL-CHAMBER (SC) SPARK PLUG

INTRODUCTION Today’s stringent, to some degree conflicting demands on the spark-ignition engine for low fuel consumption, low emissions, good engine smoothness and high power output simultaneously can no longer be met fully with conventional methods. But there are further possibilities for improvement in the dilution of mixtures (lean combustion, exhaust-gas recirculation EGR) that is so favorable from the standpoint of fuel consumption and/or emissions, as well as in the warm-up phase. Especially in the lower part-load range and at idle, conventional spark plugs cannot maintain the “optimum center of combustion”, even when fired by modern high-energy ignition systems. This means less than optimum fuel economy and HC control. There are three principal causes for this state of affairs: 1. The irregular combustion initiation phase, a result of sharply fluctuating charge conditions (flow, composition, temperature in the area of the sparkplug).For example, with increasing air-fuel ratio it is not possible to hinder increasing fluctuations in the duration of combustion initiation, that is, variations in the time that elapses until a stably turbulent flame front forms after approximately 1-3% of the air-fuel mixture is burned. But these fluctuations are the main cause of variations in successive indicated mean effective pressure Pi and consequently, in torque at the crankshaft. In other words, they are critical to engine smoothness and an engine’s lean operation limit 2. Too long duration of the combustion initiation phase, particularly as unfavorable ignition conditions are approached. For minimum fuel consumption the ignition must be advanced considerably, which in turn increases the fluctuation of duration and duration itself of the combustion initiation phase because of non-homogeneity and lower temperature. During this the volume to be activated by an ignition system as well as the quenching effect of the comparatively cold electrode increase so with a conventional ignition system, even operating with large electrode gap, ignition voltage and energy, satisfactory running smoothness of the engine is not achieved. 3. Because combustion of the main part of the charge proceeds too slowly, thermal efficiency in the above mentioned ranges is directly reduced on the one hand; on the other, attaining an “optimum center of combustion” is impossible. At the same time, the slow main combustion process results in

it is not offered by many manufacturers. One of these is double ignition with dual spark plugs. they do not extend the lean limit as far as the stratified charge concept. in combination with intake swirl this solution achieves more even combustion and more rapid energy conversion. But the large volume necessary for reliable ignition results in disadvantages similar to those of the stratified-charge engine. Because of its high cost. especially in comparison with that of conventional engines. Pre-chamber engines with and without charge stratification also has fewer tendencies to knock. aimed purely at improving the charge-ignition process. and those are under the pressure of extremely stringent emission legislation. the relation between fuel consumption and NOx emissions is significantly better. Its disadvantage is the relatively large volume of the prechamber necessary to handle the rich portion of the mixture in the prechamber. Recently. reduces power output. in use for time. Thus only few of them have found their way into production. The classic solution. as a consequence of flow and thermal losses. Other concepts used in production aim at achieving the advantages of torch ignition (rapid. a plasma beam is achieved with very high electrical energy in the passage between a very small pre-chamber and the main combustion chamber. Conversely. there have been proposals in the literature for special spark characteristics and so called plasma ignition. At the same time. uniform energy conversion) without the expense of stratified charge. for even ignition and rapid energy conversion is the stratified-charge engine. But all solutions developed so far are comparatively expensive. Another solution involves split intake ports and a second intake valve to achieve orderly swirl in the combustion chamber under lower partial-load conditions. SWIRL-CHAMBER (SC) SPARK PLUG The preceding discussion points up the need for a solution that combines to the highest possible degree the advantages of conventional ignition- . In the latter case. improving ignition significantly.fluctuations of indicated mean effective pressure Pi in addition to those resulting from the combustion initiation phase. and often effective only in certain operation ranges. Efforts to avoid the above-mentioned causes have resulted in a number of solutions. which adversely affects thermal efficiency and.

From this extended electrode a spark gap forms to the cap of highly heat-resistant nickel alloy with one central and four tangential orifices. uniform swirl. low emissions and good engine smoothness. The swirl chamber’s volume is approximately 1. on the basis of a conventional plug. compactness. Bosch has developed the swirl-chamber (SC) spark plug.moderate cost. Stage 3 – rapid.rapid. more rapid combustion of the main charge. It consists of the usual spark-plug body with its forward end extended. A recess near the spark gap helps achieve a relatively hot ground electrode. high specific power out-put. It achieves reliable. uniform main combustion. This design gives an extended cylindrical swirl chamber with a largerdiameter rear section.plug configuration. as well as a production insulator with center electrode.Swirl –chamber (SC) spark plug. The SC plug is characterized by three successive functional stages. Those three stages are illustrated schematically in Figure -3. Stage 2 .chamber combustion phase. Dimensions of the cap are within those permitted by the ISO/Din Norm 1919 for conventional plugs with flat seat. Although not all partial processes are results found in the literature make the following descriptions of the stages possible: . A photo (Figure 2) shows that the SC plug has the same over-all dimensions as a conventional one. Stage 1 – formation of charge condition favourable to ignition. to which a thin platinum electrode extension is welded diagonally. action. With this aim in mind. with each of which one of the three principal drawbacks of conventional spark plug is either eliminated or diminished.with those of unconventional combustion systems. Figure 1 shows a partial section of a typical SC. uniform and rapid initiation of combustion and thanks to multi-torch. Figure -1. such as low fuel consumption.3 cm3.

layer flow at the chamber’s forward wall. Mixture being forced through the central passage reduces the axial component of flow at the wall. Figure -2-swirl –chamber (SC) spark plug (left) and conventional spark plug (right) with identical dimensions. the swirl becomes the combustion carrier. where fine turbulence ensures very good mixing (24). Stage 2: After ignition of the mixture to the SC plug’s stepped cylindrical inner wall in the area of the transition from smaller to larger diameter (see figure 1). One reason is the “averaging” of characteristics of the mixture flowing through the four tangential orifices from four different directions. uniform swirl-chamber combustion phase Stage 3 Rapid. Because of the extremely high centrifugal forces (theoretically > 1000 fold acceleration relative to gravity). The latter are pushed from the vicinity of the spark position. a sharp drop in velocity at the chamber wall provides especially good ignition conditions (7). uniform main combustion . particularly with a non-homogenous mixture. The latter are pushed in a “blob” to the back of the swirl chamber. Finally.Stage 1: Mixture flowing to the spark position during the compression stroke shows especially small fluctuations in flow velocity. as well as displacing residual gases from the vicinity of the spark position. The other is spiral boundary. composition and temperature. Thus the combustion initiation Stage 1 Formation of charge condition favorable to ignition Stage 2 Rapid. a richer mixture can be expected at the wall near the spark position.

With the SC plug. Without swirl With swirl Z=point of ignition Figure 4.Three functional stages of the swirl chamber(SC)spark plug. the result is particularly rapid and complete conversion of the chemical energy in the chamber as the burning mixture is divided into ignition torches. For the SC plug. the low axial velocity in the chamber’s outer regions and the narrowing in its forward end. As is also known from the literature. the combustion chamber. this means that after ignition. Whereas without swirl only about 10% of the cross sectional area has been reached by the flame front after 10ms. phase proceeds much faster and more uniformly than normally. according to the results reported by Pischinger et al. as well as the corresponding pressure and temperature increase. with swirl this figure rises to about 75%. Experience shows that the extremely rapid expansion of burned mixture resulting from the swirl combustion. engine speed proportional velocity in direction to the chamber’s axis. as a result of the balance between the flow and flame velocities. In the SC plug this motion is reinforced by the small volume. Stage 3: It is well known that torch ignition helps to attain very rapid and uniform combustion of the main charge.Figure 3. give rapid movement of the flame front toward the orifices and. with ignition at the wall of a cylindrical swirl chamber there is a spiral flame front of high. Altogether.Flame propagation in cylindrical chamber without and with swirl. the flame front separates from the cool wall and circumferentially surrounds the stream from the central orifice in the transition area between the chamber’s small and large diameters. reported by Pischinger et al. therefore. These factors add up to excellent results within the remarkably compact dimensions that allow integration into a spark plug. Figure 4 shows a comparison of the flame propagation in a cylindrical combustion bomb with and without swirl when the mixture is ignited near the wall. because energy . At the same time. the flame origin remains in the vicinity of the spark. as well as virtually synchronous with engine speed. ignition near chamber wall. Its cause is the large centrifugal force acting as a “buoyancy force” on burned gas components as they become considerably lighter.

a large portion of the charge is sure inflamed by the torch streams. mixture velocity in the torch passages and thus conversion velocity of the main charge are also virtually synchronous with engine speed.conversion in the swirl chamber is closely related to the engine’s rotational speed. the torch streams fan out vigorously as they enter the main combustion chamber. and in contrast to other solutions. the five torches cover the entire hemisphere around the spark plug. The torches’ reaches into the combustion chamber are designed for conventional passenger car engines with bores of 70-100mm. In addition. . Because the passages are short. Thus even with an unfavorable arrangement of the SC plug.

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