In this study, the dependence of minimum ignition energies (MIE) on ignition geometry, ignition source radius and mixture composition is investigated numerically for methane/air and isooctane/air mixtures. Methane and isooctane are both important hydrocarbon fuels, but differ strongly with respect to their Lewis numbers. Lean isooctane air mixtures have particularly large Lewis numbers.
The results show that within the flammability limits, the MIE for both mixtures stays almost constant, and increases rapidly at the limits. The MIEs for both fuels are also similar within the flammability limits. Furthermore, the MIEs of isooctane/air mixtures with a small spherical ignition source increase rapidly for lean mixtures. Here the Lewis number is above unity, and thus, the flame may quench because of flame curvature effects. The observations show a distinct difference between ignition and flame propagation for iso-octane. The minimum energy required for initiating a successful flame propagation can be considerably higher than that required for initiating an ignition in the ignition volume. For iso-octane with a small spherical ignition source, this effect was observed at all equivalence ratios. ... mehrFor iso-octane with cylindrical ignition sources, the phenomenon appeared at lower equivalence ratios only, where the mixture’s Lewis number is large. For methane fuel, the effect was negligible. The results highlight the significance of molecular transport properties on the decision whether or not an ignitable mixture can evolve into a propagating flame.