Standard Article

13 Combustion in a Spark Ignition Engine

Part 3. Gaseous and Liquid Fuels

  1. Alexey A. Burluka

Published Online: 15 JUL 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9783527628148.hoc052

Handbook of Combustion

Handbook of Combustion

How to Cite

Burluka, A. A. 2010. Combustion in a Spark Ignition Engine. Handbook of Combustion. 3:13:389–414.

Author Information

  1. The University of Leeds, School of Mechanical Engineering, Leeds, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUL 2010


The modern spark ignition (SI) engine is a mature and well-established prime mover for hundreds of millions of passenger cars and tens of millions of diverse other applications, ranging from simple single-speed two-stroke engines in lawnmowers and portable electric power generators to complex four-stroke engines used in power boats and light airplanes. The main combustion mode in an SI engine is turbulent premixed combustion where a flame propagates through a mixture of homogeneous chemical composition; the combustion process within any one given engine cycle occurs under a wide range of pressures and temperatures. As a computational fluid dynamics calculation of the engine combustion remains a prospective research tool, and owing to its complexity and the uncertainty of input, the use of a simpler methodology such as the “thermodynamic” or “zonal” modeling considered in this chapter is desirable. Crucial to the engine performance, the net rate of heat release is determined by several processes, the principal one of which is flame propagation. This chapter reviews applications of modern premixed combustion models to SI engine conditions. Measurements of turbulent flame velocity and observations of the flame structure are compared with existing models. Results obtained with the described approach are presented and the relative importance of various sub-models is discussed. It is shown that a very simple modification of existing models allows one to predict the magnitude of the cycle-to-cycle variations in engine performance. The chapter concludes with a brief outline of the latest trends in SI engine development and the challenges it may pose for combustion research.


  • spark ignition engine;
  • combustion;
  • flame propagation;
  • turbulent flame velocity;
  • thermodynamics