The evolution of a spark kernel ejected by a sunken fire igniter into a turbulent, fuel-air stratified cross-flow was studied both experimentally and using a model in a configuration that is similar to the conditions found in turbine engine combustors. This study allows for variations in the transit time of the kernel across a uniform non-flammable region, before entering a second stream containing a flammable fuel-air mixture. High speed schlieren and emission imaging systems are used to visualize the evolution of the kernel and determine the probability of ignition based on measurements over many spark events. Experiments are performed for a range of mean velocities, transit times, inlet (preheat) temperatures, flammable zone equivalence ratios, and non-flammable zone equivalence ratios. In addition to the typical dependence of ignition on the equivalence ratio of the flammable mixture, the results indicate the strong influence of the kernel transit time and the inlet flow temperature on the probability of ignition. The entrainment between the kernel and the surrounding flow appears to be primarily controlled by the kernel ejection-induced flowfield. Reduced-order modeling suggests that the lowering of the kernel temperature associated with entrainment of the non-flammable mixture significantly reduces the ignition probability, and leads to the conclusion that the presence of fuel close to the igniter is necessary to ensure reliable ignition under adverse conditions.

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