Enhancement of flame development by microwave-assisted spark ignition in constant volume combustion chamber

Benjamin Wolk*, Anthony DeFilippo, Jyh Yuan Chen, Robert Dibble, Atsushi Nishiyama, Yuji Ikeda

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

150 Scopus citations


The enhancement of laminar flame development using microwave-assisted spark ignition has been investigated for methane-air mixtures at a range of initial pressures and equivalence ratios in a 1.45. l constant volume combustion chamber. Microwave enhancement was evaluated on the basis of several parameters including flame development time (FDT) (time for 0-10% of total net heat release), flame rise time (FRT) (time for 10-90% of total net heat release), total net heat release, flame kernel growth rate, flame kernel size, and ignitability limit extension. Compared to a capacitive discharge spark, microwave-assisted spark ignition extended the lean and rich ignition limits at all pressures investigated (1.08-7.22. bar). The addition of microwaves to a capacitive discharge spark reduced FDT and increased the flame kernel size for all equivalence ratios tested and resulted in increases in the spatial flame speed for sufficiently lean flames. Flame enhancement is believed to be caused by (1) a non-thermal chemical kinetic enhancement from energy deposition to free electrons in the flame front and (2) induced flame wrinkling from excitation of flame (plasma) instability. The enhancement of flame development by microwaves diminishes as the initial pressure of the mixture increases, with negligible flame enhancement observed above 3. bar.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1225-1234
Number of pages10
JournalCombustion and Flame
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): 025478
Acknowledgements: This research at the University of California, Berkeley was partially supported by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Cooperative Agreement No. 025478 entitled, "Electromagnetically Enhanced Combustion: Electric Flames". Data collection efforts were assisted by David Vuilleumier, Jeff Young, and Ruben Maldonado.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


  • Ignition
  • Instability
  • Microwave
  • Plasma
  • Spark plug

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Fuel Technology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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