Lean-burn engines are important due to their ability to reduce emissions, increase fuel efficiency, and mitigate engine knock. In this study, the surface roughness of spark plug electrodes is investigated as a potential avenue to extend the lean flammability limit of natural gas. A nano-/micro-morphology modification is applied on surface of the spark plug electrode to increase its surface roughness. High-speed Z-type Schlieren visualization is used to investigate the effect of the electrode surface roughness on the spark ignition process in a premixed methane-air charge at different lean equivalence ratios. In order to observe the onset of ignition and flame kernel behavior, experiments were conducted in an optically accessible constant volume combustion chamber at ambient pressures and temperatures. The results indicate that the lean flammability limit of spark-ignited methane can be lowered by modulating the surface roughness of the spark plug electrode.

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