This paper describes experimental measurements of forced ignition of prevaporized liquid fuels in a well-controlled facility that incorporates non-uniform flow conditions similar to those of gas turbine engine combustors. The goal here is to elucidate the processes by which the initially unfueled kernel evolves into a self-sustained flame. Three fuels are examined: a conventional Jet-A and two synthesized fuels that are used to explore fuel composition effects. A commercial, high-energy recessed cavity discharge igniter located at the test section wall ejects kernels at 15 Hz into a preheated, striated crossflow. Next to the igniter wall is an unfueled air flow; above this is a premixed, prevaporized, fuel-air flow, with a matched velocity and an equivalence ratio near 0.75. The fuels are prevaporized in order to isolate chemical effects. Differences in early ignition kernel development are explored using three, synchronized, high-speed imaging diagnostics: schlieren, emission/chemiluminescence, and OH planar laser-induced fluorescence (PLIF). The schlieren images reveal rapid entrainment of crossflow fluid into the kernel. The PLIF and emission images suggest chemical reactions between the hot kernel and the entrained fuel-air mixture start within tens of microseconds after the kernel begins entraining fuel, with some heat release possibly occurring. Initially, dilution cooling of the kernel appears to outweigh whatever heat release occurs; so whether the kernel leads to successful ignition or not, the reaction rate and the spatial extent of the reacting region decrease significantly with time. During a successful ignition event, small regions of the reacting kernel survive this dilution and are able to transition into a self-sustained flame after ∼1–2 ms. The low aromatic/low cetane number fuel, which also has the lowest ignition probability, takes much longer for the reaction zone to grow after the initial decay. The high aromatic, more easily ignited fuel, shows the largest reaction region at early times.

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