Initiation of combustion at a desired time and location in a combustion chamber can be accomplished by sending a high voltage across two narrowly separated wires, creating a spark. The spark event in typical engines happens very quickly relative to the main combustion in the engine. The physical description of this simple event is very involved and complex, making it difficult to accurately model the spark in the context of a multidimensional engine simulation. Additionally, the energy from the spark event is several orders of magnitude less than the chemical energy release from the fuel. Despite the amount of research devoted to spark ignition physics and ignition devices, the ignition of a mixture at a point in the domain is more dependent on the local composition than on the spark energy (see Heywood [ 141]). Thus, for situations in which FLUENT is utilized for combustion engine modeling, including internal combustion engines, the spark event does not need to be modeled in great detail, but simply as the initiation of combustion over a duration set by the user.
Since spark ignition is inherently transient, the spark model is only available in the transient solver. Additionally, the spark model requires chemical reactions to be solved. The spark model is available for all of the combustion models, however, it may be most applicable to the premixed and partially premixed combustion models.
The Spark Model used in FLUENT is based on a one-dimensional analysis by Lipatnikov [ 216]. The model is sensitive to perturbations and can be subject to instabilities when used in multi-dimensional simulations. The instabilities are inherent to the model and can be dependent on the mesh, especially near the beginning of the spark event when the model reduces diffusion to simulate the initial laminar spark kernel growth. The instability is susceptible to numerical errors which are increased when the grid is not aligned with the flame propagation. As the spark kernel grows and the model allows turbulent mixing to occur, the effect of the instability decreases.