The ignition performance is a crucial issue for combustor design, especially when lean burn technologies are employed to reduce the NOx emission. Ignition is the initiation of a flame kernel followed by flame propagation and global establishment. The initiation of flame kernel is beyond the scope of this paper because it involves plasma formation process. The present investigation is mainly focused on flame front propagation which is modeled by solving a transport equation of reaction progress variable. Large eddy simulation (LES) with flamelet model has been employed to study the effect of various spark location under engine start condition. The numerical approach is validated by ignition experiments with turbulent bluff-body burner conducted by Ahmed and Mastorakos in Cambridge University. Mean and transient characteristics of velocity, mixture fraction and flame structures are compared with experimental data, to assess the accuracy of simulation in terms of flow structure, turbulent mixing and combustion performances. The validated LES model is then applied to study a series of physical locations of the spark plug in a single dome combustor. Successful and unsuccessful ignition sequences, time evolution of velocity and fuel/air ratio (FAR) of selected spots are recorded. Comparing the unsuccessful ignition with the successful ones, whether flame kernel enters into the CRZ and ignites the flammable mixture is a critical process which determines successful ignition. The evolution of flame kernel is correlated to flow field and fuel/air distribution to further analyze their effects on the ignition process. Since the process is highly transient, successful ignition is not only determined by parameters of spark location, but also influenced by the parameters throughout the flow path during flame propagation.

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