Development of technologies that allow small, high power density engines such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), unmanned marine vehicles (UMV), and unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) to operate on single logistic fuel such as JP-8 is one of government goals. To advance this goal, a lightweight, compact, and retrofit capable ignition source is critical. Compared to standard spark igniters and noncatalytic glow plugs, the use of catalytic glow plugs will provide benefits of lower required compression ratio, improved igniter life, reduced electrical energy requirements, and overall reduction in system weight and size. Experimental testing demonstrated a significant increase in surface temperature (160+ °C) with impingement of a fuel spray compared to a conventional glow plug with engine testing demonstrating the use of catalyst allows stable engine operation at reduced power requirements. Computational analysis was performed to provide insight into the catalyst behavior. Analytical studies suggested increased stability due to both heat release due to exothermic catalytic reaction and production of reactive species. This technology would allow high power density engines to use heavy fuels, while potentially reducing electric power supply and engine complexity and weight, both of which would allow greater range and/or payload capacity. This paper discusses the feasibility of advanced igniters technology as an enabling component for the use of heavy fuels in small, high power density internal combustion engines. The paper presents and discusses analytical investigation, experimental test results, and durability testing data in an internal combustion engine environment.

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