Direct ignition and S-curve transition by in situ nano-second pulsed discharge in methane/oxygen/helium counterflow flame

Wenting Sun, Sang Hee Won, Timothy Ombrello, Campbell Carter, Yiguang Ju

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


A well-defined plasma assisted combustion system with novel in situ discharge in a counterflow diffusion flame was developed to study the direct coupling kinetic effect of non-equilibrium plasma on flame ignition and extinction. A uniform discharge was generated between the burner nozzles by placing porous metal electrodes at the nozzle exits. The ignition and extinction characteristics of CH4/O2/He diffusion flames were investigated by measuring excited OH* and OH PLIF, at constant strain rates and O2 mole fraction on the oxidizer side while changing the fuel mole fraction. It was found that ignition and extinction occurred with an abrupt change of OH* emission intensity at lower O2 mole fraction, indicating the existence of the conventional ignition-extinction S-curve. However, at a higher O2 mole fraction, it was found that the in situ discharge could significantly modify the characteristics of ignition and extinction and create a new monotonic and fully stretched ignition S-curve. The transition from the conventional S-curves to a new stretched ignition curve indicated clearly that the active species generated by the plasma could change the chemical kinetic pathways of fuel oxidation at low temperature, thus resulting in the transition of flame stabilization mechanism from extinction-controlled to ignition-controlled regimes. The temperature and OH radical distributions were measured experimentally by the Rayleigh scattering technique and PLIF technique, respectively, and were compared with modeling. The results showed that the local maximum temperature in the reaction zone, where the ignition occurred, could be as low as 900 K. The chemical kinetic model for the plasma-flame interaction has been developed based on the assumption of constant electric field strength in the bulk plasma region. The reaction pathways analysis further revealed that atomic oxygen generated by the discharge was critical to controlling the radical production and promoting the chain branching effect in the reaction zone for low temperature ignition enhancement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)847-855
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Combustion Institute
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


  • Extinction
  • Ignition
  • In situ discharge
  • Plasma assisted combustion
  • Rayleigh scattering temperature measurement


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