Modeling of the effects of non-equilibrium excitation and electrode geometry on H2/air ignition in a nanosecond plasma discharge

Xingqian Mao, Hongtao Zhong, Tianhan Zhang, Andrey Starikovskiy, Yiguang Ju

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


This work presents the results of two-dimensional modeling of the effects of non-equilibrium excitation and electrode geometry on H2/air ignition in a nanosecond plasma discharge. A multiscale adaptive reduced chemistry solver for plasma assisted combustion (MARCS-PAC) based on PASSKEy discharge modeling package and compressible multi-component reactive flow solver ASURF+ is developed and validated. This model is applied to simulate the impact of non-equilibrium plasma excitation and electrode geometry and heat loss on the dynamics of the discharge from streamer to spark and ignition kernel development in a H2/air mixture with a pair of cylindrical electrodes. The results show that the plasma-generated species (N2(A), N2(B), N2(a), N2(C), O(1D), O and H) in the spark and afterglow significantly accelerate the ignition kernel development. The increase of discharge voltage at the same total discharge energy promotes the non-equilibrium active species production. It is found that the production of electronically excited species at higher reduced electric field strength is more efficient in enhancing ignition in comparison to the vibrational excitation and heating. Moreover, the 2D simulation clearly reveals that the electric field and active species distribution are highly non-uniform. The streamers are initiated at the sharp outer edges of the negative and positive electrodes by a strong electric field while the electric field is much weaker at the centerline of the electrodes. Furthermore, the simulations reveal that the ignition enhancement is sensitive to the variation of electrode shape, diameter, and gap size due to the changes of electric field distribution and location of streamer formation. A cylindrical electrode produces a larger discharge volume and ignition kernel than the parabolic and spherical electrodes, when the discharge is localized near the axis of the gap. It is found that there is a non-monotonic dependence of ignition kernel size on the electrode diameter and inter-electrode distance. The increase of electrode diameter and gap size above the optimal conditions leads to the reduction of ignition kernel volume, due to the decrease of active species concentration and gas temperature. At a larger electrode surface area and electrode diameter as well as smaller electrode gap size, the heat loss to electrode plays a greater role in reducing the ignition kernel size and slowing ignition kernel development. This work provides insights and guidance to understand the kinetic enhancement of non-equilibrium plasma and the effects of electrode geometries on ignition for the optimization ignitors in advanced engines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number112046
JournalCombustion and Flame
StatePublished - Jun 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


  • Electrode geometry
  • Heat loss
  • Ignition kernel
  • Non-equilibrium excitation
  • Plasma assisted ignition


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