In internal combustion engines, an ignition source is required to initiate the combustion process. This is commonly obtained either through an electric spark generation or by physical act of compression-ignition. In order to improve performance and lower pollutants levels, researchers have proposed alternatives to conventional ignition or combustion processes, such as homogeneously-charge compression-ignition (HCCI) combustion, whose critical operational requirement is precise control of the autoignition timing within the engine operating cycle. In this work, an innovative volumetrically-distributed ignition approach is proposed to control the onset of the autoignition process, by taking advantage of the optical ignition properties of carbon nanotubes when exposed to a low-consumption light source. It is shown that this ignition method enhanced the combustion of methane, hydrogen, LPG, and gasoline (injected to chamber in liquid phase). The results for this new ignition method show that pressure gradient and combustion efficiency are increased, while combustion duration and ignition delay time are decreased. A direct observation of the combustion process indicates that these benefits are due to the spatially-distributed ignition followed by a faster initial consumption of the air/fuel mixture. The use of this ignition system is therefore proposed as a promising technology for the combustion management in internal combustion engines, specifically for the HCCI engines.
Part of the book: Carbon Nanotubes