Characterization of Lean Combustion Instability in Premixed Charge Spark Ignition Engines


The focus of this study was to identify and characterize the development of lean combustion instability in spark ignition engines. Statistical techniques from non-linear dynamics were used to process experimental combustion observations to reveal previously unrecognized patterns in cycle-to-cycle combustion variations. The presence of non-linear deterministic structure was confirmed in lean combustion variations from a single cylinder research engine and a four-cylinder production engine. The transition to non-linear deterministic behaviour appeared to occur via a period-doubling bifurcation sequence. Over the bifurcation region, engine dynamics appeared to pass through distinct dynamic stages including stochastic, periodic and possibly chaotic behaviour. The level of dynamic complexity and corresponding cycle-to-cycle communication were found to be a strong function of the residual gas fraction. Experimental observations were also compared with patterns predicted by a recently proposed low-order engine model. Further analysis of the time-series results indicated that the engine frequently exhibited complicated repeating combustion patterns 15 to 20 cycles in length under certain lean operating conditions. Similar dynamics were seen for the two very different engine designs. The work suggests that the underlying cyclic dynamics may not be dependent upon the details of such processes as mixing and combustion but are characteristic of all lean premixed spark ignition engines.


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Bifurcation; Lean Combustion Instability; Non-Linear Dynamics; Spark Ignition Engines

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Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


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© 2000 Professional Engineering Publishing (Institution of Mechanical Engineers), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2000