In SI engines the ignition process strongly affects the combustion process. Its accurate modelling becomes a key issue for a design-oriented CFD simulation of the combustion process. Different approaches to simulate ignition have been proposed. The common base is decoupling the physics related to the very first ignition phase when a plasma is formed from that of the development of the flame kernel. The critical point of ignition models is related to the capability of representing the effect of ignition system characteristics, the criterion used for flame deposit and the initialisation of the combustion model. This paper aims to present and validates extensively an ignition model suited for CFD calculation of premixed combustion. The ignition model implemented in a customized version of the Kiva 3 code is coupled with ECFM Flamelet combustion model. The ignition model simulates the plasma/kernel expansion based on a lump evaluation of main ignition processes (i.e., breakdown, arc-phase and glow phase). A double switch criterion based on physical and numerical consideration is used to switch to the main combustion model. The Herweg and Maly experimental test case has been used to check the model capability. In particular, two different ignition systems having different amount of electrical energy released during spark discharge are considered. Comparisons with experimental results allowed testing the model with respect to its capability to reproduce the effects of mixture equivalence ratio, mean flow, turbulence and spark energy on flame kernel development as never done before in three-dimensional RANS CFD combustion modelling of premixed flames.

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