Sluggish flame initiation and propagation, and even potential misfiring, become major problems with lean-fueled, premixed-charge, spark-ignited engines. This work studies torch ignition as a means for improving combustion, fuel economy, and emissions of a retrofitted, large combustion chamber with nonideal spark plug location. A number of alternative configurations, employing different torch chamber designs, spark-plug locations, and materials, were tested under full-load and part-load conditions. Results indicate a considerable extension of the lean operating limit of the engine, especially under part-load conditions. In addition, torch ignition can lead to substantial thermal efficiency gains for either leaner or richer air-fuel ratios than the optimum for the conventional ignition system. On the richer side, in particular, the torch-ignited engine is capable of operating at maximum brake torque spark timings, rather than compromised, knock-limited spark timings used with conventional ignition. This translates into thermal efficiency improvements as high as 8 percent at an air-fuel ratio of 20:1 and full load.

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