Glow plugs are a possible ignition source for direct injected natural gas engines. This ignition assistance application is much different than the cold start assist function for which most glow plugs have been designed. In the cold start application, the glow plug is simply heating the air in the cylinder. In the cycle-by-cycle ignition assist application, the glow plug needs to achieve high surface temperatures at specific times in the engine cycle to provide a localized source of ignition. Whereas a simple lumped heat capacitance model is a satisfactory representation of the glow plug for the air heating situation, a much more complex situation exists for hot surface ignition. Simple measurements and theoretical analysis show that the thickness of the heat penetration layer is small within the time scale of the ignition preparation period (1–2 ms). The experiments and analysis were used to develop a discretized representation of the glow plug domain. A simplified heat transfer model, incorporating both convection and radiation losses, was developed for the discretized representation to compute heat transfer to and from the surrounding gas. A scheme for coupling the glow plug model to the surrounding gas computational domain in the KIVA-3V engine simulation code was also developed. The glow plug model successfully simulates the natural gas ignition process for a direct-injection natural gas engine. As well, it can provide detailed information on the local glow plug surface temperature distribution, which can aid in the design of more reliable glow plugs.

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