Since fossil fuels will remain the main source of energy for power generation and transportation in next decades, their combustion processes remain an important concern for the foreseeable future. For liquid or gaseous fuels, flame velocity that propagates normal to itself and relative to the flow into the unburned mixture is one of the most important quantities to study. In a non-uniform flow, a curved flame front area changes continually which is known as flame stretch. The concept becomes more important when it is realized that the stretch affects the turbulent flame speed.
The current research empirically studies flame stretch under engine-like conditions since there has not been enough experimental studies in this area. For this reason, a one-cylinder, direct-injection, spark-ignition, naturally-aspirated optical engine was utilized to image the flame propagation process inside an internal combustion engine cylinder on the tumble plane. The flame front was found by processing high speed images which were taken from the flame inside the cylinder.
Flame front propagation analysis showed that after the flame kernel was developed, during flame propagation period, the stretch rate decreased until the flame front touches the piston surface. This trend was common among stoichiometric, lean, and rich mixtures. In addition, the fuel-air mixture with λ = 0.85 showed lower stretch rate compared to stoichiometric or lean mixture with λ = 1.2. However, based on previous studies, further enrichment may result in the flame stretch rate become greater than that of the stretch rates for stoichiometric or lean mixtures. Also, comparing the stretch rate at two different engine speeds revealed that as the speed increased the stretch rate also increased; especially during the early flame development period. Therefore, according to previous studies which discussed flame stretch as a mechanism for flame extinguishment, the probability of the flame extinction is higher when the engine speed is higher.