A novel multiple spark ignition strategy to achieve pure ammonia combustion in an optical spark-ignition engine

Kalim Uddeen, Qinglong Tang, Hao Shi, Gaetano Magnotti, James W. G. Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Ammonia is an attractive carbon-free fuel that has the potential to reduce the need for conventional hydrocarbons (HC) and reduce emissions of undesirable pollutants such as CO, CO2, particulates, and unburned hydrocarbons. However, ammonia has different combustion characteristics than conventional HC fuel. Ammonia is difficult to ignite and has a low combustion rate, resulting in large cyclic variations. In addition, nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions in the exhaust tract are a major challenge when using ammonia as a fuel directly in engines. In this study, the effect of multiple spark ignition sites on the combustion of pure ammonia in an optical spark ignition engine (SI) was investigated. The experiment was conducted with four spark plugs mounted equidistantly on a special metal liner and one spark plug fitted at the top of the cylinder head. The multiple flames emitted from the different spark ignition sites were captured by natural flame luminosity (NFL) imaging. In the results, the conventional single spark ignition is compared with multiple ignitions. It was found that single spark ignition resulted in lower in-cylinder pressure, longer combustion duration, and higher combustion instability due to the poor ammonia fuel combustion rate. However, firing multiple spark plugs significantly improved combustion stability, increased engine power, and shortened the combustion period under the same operating conditions. In addition, the flame kernels produced by multiple ignition sites resulted in higher NOx emissions in the exhaust tract due to the higher temperatures in the cylinder. In addition, this study also investigated the effect of three different air–fuel equivalence ratios (λ) of 1.0, 1.2, and 1.4 on the combustion characteristics of ammonia fuel. The maximum NOx level was obtained for λ: 1.2 because the excess air in the mixture oxidizes the ammonia and provides abundant oxygen to generate more NOx. Further reducing the ammonia fuel and increasing the excess air to λ: 1.4 dramatically reduced NOx emissions due to the lower pressures and temperatures in the cylinder resulting from the longer combustion period.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)128741
StatePublished - May 31 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Organic Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Fuel Technology


Dive into the research topics of 'A novel multiple spark ignition strategy to achieve pure ammonia combustion in an optical spark-ignition engine'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this