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combustion period for gas-fuelled spark ignition

engine applications

S O Bade Shrestha and G A Karim*

Department of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Abstract: A predictive procedure is described for determining the effective time period needed to

complete the energy release by combustion from the moment of ame initiation by a spark to the

completion of ame propagation in a spark ignition engine while using a number of gaseous fuels and

some of their mixtures. These predicted values of the combustion period when used in a relatively

simple modelling procedure can produce predicted values of key engine performance parameters that

compare well with the corresponding experimentally obtained values.

Keywords:

NOTATION

A, B

ATDC

BTDC

C, C, C@

CFR

CR

dc

m

MBT

ny

N

P

Sf

Sp

T

TDC

V

y

constants

after top dead centre

before top dead centre

constants

cooperative fuel research

compression ratio

effective ame propagation distance

mass

minimum timing for best torque

polytropic index

engine rotational speed (r/min)

cylinder pressure

ame speed

average piston speed

temperature (K)

top dead centre position

volume

fuel molar fraction

y

Dyc

Dyc,m

ye.c.

ye.i.

Dyig

combustion duration

combustion duration for a mixture

end of combustion duration (deg)

end of ignition lag (deg)

ignition lag

revision for publication on 8 March 2000.

*Corresponding author: Department of Mechanical Engineering, The

University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, Alberta,

Canada T2N 1N4.

A08399

fuel equivalence ratio

s

f

IMechE 2001

Subscripts

b

c

f

i

ig

l

m

max

min

o

r

st

burned

combustion, end of combustion

fuel

initial

ignition lag

lean mixture limit

mixture

maximum

minimum

initial or intake conditions

rich mixture limit

spark timing

INTRODUCTION

over the years for the prediction of key performance

parameters of spark-ignited combustion engines tend to

be zero dimensional, avoiding the necessity of modelling

the complex ame propagation process while using

relatively simple combustion submodels. These models,

which are much simpler than those more recently

developed multidimensional computational uid dynamics (CFD) based models, are eminently suitable for

Proc Instn Mech Engrs Vol 215 Part A

64

variational predictive procedures of various features of

engine performance.

The present contribution describes an experimentally

based simple model for predicting the thermal consequences of ame propagation in gas-fuelled spark-ignited

engines. It was shown elsewhere [1] that this model can

be incorporated into a comprehensive model for predicting quantitatively various features of engine behaviour

including the effect of changes in fuel composition and

the incidence of knock.

EXPERIMENTAL PROCEDURE

Fig. 1

pressuretime diagrams that a number of important

performance parameters can be deduced such as those

indicating the apparent temporal variations of the mass

burned and effective duration of the combustion process.

Figure 1 shows typical variations of burned mass fraction

and its corresponding rate of change for different spark

timings obtained in a methane-fuelled spark-ignited

variable compression ratio, single-cylinder cooperative

fuel research (CFR) engine of 82.5 mm bore and

114.3 mm stroke operating at wide open throttle conditions [2]. Combustion took place over a period that

started somewhat later than spark discharge (i.e. after an

ignition lag), when detectable thermal energy just began

to be released owing to ame kernel development and

ended with the termination of ame propagation having

consumed the entire mixture. The area enclosed by the

Typical experimentally derived variations of burned mass and the rate of change of burned mass in a

CFR engine for different spark timings [2]

A08399

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65

corresponding energy release rate diagram would represent the total effective energy released by combustion.

Throughout, the cylinder pressuretime variations were

obtained by using a piezoelectric pressure transducer

with a data acquisition system. The fuel was metered with

choked nozzles and introduced outside of the cylinder

head into the air stream so as to produce homogeneous

fuelair mixtures.

A variety of approaches have been developed for

evaluating the combustion duration and ignition lag from

the pressure temporal diagrams. These approaches can, in

principle, be used equally for compression ignition type

engines as well. The approach used to obtain the results

shown in this paper is based on evaluating the temporal

changes in the apparent polytropic index for the observed

pressure values and the corresponding volume [3], i.e.

ny

V dP

PdV

dV represent the change of the cylinder pressure and

volume across a small interval of time, while P and V are

the mean values of pressure and volume for that same

interval. The end of the ignition lag will then be

associated with a rapid increase in the value of the index,

ny, whereas the end of energy release by combustion will

be associated with the rst occasion of its approaching a

relatively constant value, i.e. that of a polytropic

expansion involving the products of combustion. An

example of such an approach is shown in Fig. 2, where

typical combustion duration and ignition lag are

indicated.

This approach is superior to the plotting of log PVny,

which is much less sensitive to changes in volume and

pressure during the combustion process. Its entire value

varies only little during the whole process. On the other

hand, because of piston motion and energy release, the

variation of ny can be potentially from a negative value to

positive in nity, as shown in Fig. 2. It is an extremely

sensitive, yet very simple, parameter that may be used to

account for heat transfer variation, pre-ignition activity,

mass leakage, etc., during compression and expansion.

Statistical examination of the variations in combustion time for any operating condition is thus possible and

can provide a useful investigational tool. Figure 3 shows

the variations in combustion duration for 100 consecutive cycles in a CFR spark ignition engine for two

equivalence ratios where the lean mixture produced

longer periods with higher variations than the stoichiometric.

ANALYTICAL MODEL

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IMechE 2001

Fig. 2

angle. The combustion duration, Dyc , and ignition lag,

Dyig , are shown

range of operating conditions indicated that the shape of

these diagrams tends to be similar [2, 4]. Functions

having different shapes may be suggested to represent the

mass burning rates in spark ignition engines such as

triangular, sine and Weibe-type functions [5]. A simple

triangular function was chosen to correlate adequately the

mass burning rate data as shown typically in Fig. 4 [2, 4],

where the base corresponds to the combustion duration

Fig. 3

Dyc , for different equivalence ratios at a compression

ratio of 8.5:1, spark timing of 20 BTDC and initial

temperature of 294 K

Proc Instn Mech Engrs Vol 215 Part A

66

intake pressure, spark timing and fuel. The effects of

changes in some design parameters such as bore diameter

and compression ratio can also be considered [2, 6, 7].

3.1

Combustion duration

ratio tend to be similar to that shown in Fig. 5, which is

consistent with the typical variations of the turbulent

ame speed with equivalence ratio, since the duration is

proportional to the inverse of the averaged ame speed

[7]. Moreover, the operational equivalence ratio limits

are associated with extremely long combustion periods.

Karim and Klat [8] and Badr et al. [9] found that the lean

limit, f1, is approximately a linear function of the mean

mixture temperature at the moment of spark discharge

given by [10]

Fig. 4

derived mass burning rates

Dm

2mo

s

Dyc

where

s

y ye:i:

ymax ye:i:

ye:c: y

s

ye:c: ymax

when ymax 4y4ye:c:

3

4

where ye.i., ye.c. and ymax are the crank angles at the end of

ignition lag, the end of the combustion period and the

location associated with maximum mass burning rate

respectively. The last of these varies slightly with

operating condition and engine but may be assumed to

be at around approximately two-thirds of the period

based on observations made in the CFR engine. Other

viable distributions, of course, can be easily used.

However, these tend to represent usually only moderately

small shifts that tend to change only very little the mode

of predicted pressuretime development.

The approach described for the combustion energy

release was incorporated with a relatively simple two-zone

quasi-dimensional model described by Bade Shrestha and

Karim [1] to calculate the key engine performance

parameters for a variety of operating conditions similar to

those found in the CFR spark ignition engine. The model

was shown to be capable of predicting key engine

performance parameters, such as the temporal variations

in cylinder pressure and the mean temperatures of the two

Proc Instn Mech Engrs Vol 215 Part A

f1 A1 Tst B1

0.071 for methane operation). Tst is the average calculated mixture temperature (K) at the moment of spark

discharge. Similarly, the rich operational limit, fr, is a

linear function of the difference between the mixture

temperature at the moment of spark discharge (Tst) and

the mixture temperature at intake conditions (To) [10],

i.e.

fr A2 Tst To B2

0.10 respectively). Most hydrocarbons tend to have

similar ame propagation characteristics in a spark ignition engine [11], especially within the same group, e.g.

paraf ns as shown in Fig. 5. Thus the combustion

duration can be correlated according to the following

relationship:

!

fmin f

f fmin

B exp p

7

Dyc A exp p

f f1

fr f

equivalence ratio of f. fmin is the equivalence ratio for

minimum combustion time and A and B are constants.

Since the minimum combustion period occurs around the

stoichiometric mixture (i.e. dDyc/dfjfmin 0) then

3

2 q

fmin f1 =fr fmin

5

p

A Dyc;min 4

1 fmin f1 =fr fmin

Dyc;min

p

A08399

IMechE 2001

67

1=3

Dyc;min C

Fig. 5

Typical variations of experimentally derived combustion duration versus equivalence ratio in a CFR spark

ignition engine with methane

which can be either measured experimentally or

estimated as follows.

There are two main factors affecting the combustion

duration in a spark ignition engine. The rst factor is the

cylinder geometry and size, which decide the effective

ame propagation distance, dc. The second factor is the

effective ame propagation speed, Sf:

Dyc;min f dc ; Sf

10

piston and the changing with time of temperature and

pressure, both dc and Sf vary during combustion. Various

simpli cations may be introduced to nd a correlation for

estimating the minimum combustion duration for a

certain engine and operating condition, particularly when

lean mixture operation is involved.

For example, an assumption that the ame propagation

1=3

distance dc is proportional to Vst is a reasonable

approximation during combustion, where Vst is the

combustion chamber volume at the time of spark

discharge, and thus depends on the spark timing and

the compression ratio. In this way an advanced spark

timing and a low compression ratio will lead to a longer

ame propagation path. Correlation of the corresponding

experimental data obtained from a CFR engine led to the

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Vst

CR1=2

f Sf

11

factor which in uences the value of the combustion

duration. For a given equivalence ratio and engine speed

Sf would depend on mixture temperature and pressure.

Since the ow in a spark ignition engine is strongly

turbulent, the ame propagation is also turbulent and it is

affected by the engine speed and nature of the turbulence

intensity and scale. Numerous research investigations

have been carried out of pre-mixed laminar ame

propagation in constant volume cells (e.g. reference

[13]). Some correlations for laminar ame propagation

have been developed. However, these correlations cannot

be applied directly to engine modelling mainly because

of the variable geometry of the combustion chamber and

the intensely turbulent nature of the ow in a running

engine. A general approach that proved to be effective is

to use the correlations for laminar ame propagation after

incorporating some appropriate corrections to t the

observed experimental engine data [4, 14].

Karim and Al-Himyary [15] developed a generalized

expression for the maximum ame propagation speed for

methane based on extensive experimental data obtained

by others under different operating conditions. They

found that the maximum burning speed occurs at an

equivalence ratio of around 1.036, corresponding to the

minimum combustion duration. This was quanti ed in

the empirical form

Sf ;max p0:457 exp746:8=T 6:193

12

(atm) and temperature (K) respectively and Sf,max is the

maximum ame propagation speed.

For a xed engine speed, it is reasonable to assume that

the maximum turbulent ame speed is proportional to

Sf,max. Thus, with the maximum burning speed according

to equation (12), the minimum combustion duration of

equation (11) may be expressed as

Dyc;min /

dc

Sf ;max

1=3

Vst

CR1=2

P0:457 e764:8=T

13

pressure and temperature of the mixture during combustion. They are unknown before the combustion process

calculation in a predictive model. However, the P and T

values at the moment of spark discharge are known.

Thus, some correction is needed to make this formula

usable for predicting the combustion duration. A

satisfactory form for methane operation was found to

Proc Instn Mech Engrs Vol 215 Part A

68

be

1=3

Dyc;min C

Vst

CR1=2

P0:457 e764:8=T

14

still to be discussed. It is known that the turbulent

characteristic velocity is usually a function of the mean

piston linear speed Sp [5] and it can be used to represent

turbulence effects. Hirst and Kirsch [16] found that

Dyc;min / Sp1=3

15

expression for the nal form of the minimum combustion

duration correlation:

1=3

Dyc;min C 0

Vst

1=2

CR

16

geometry and the spark plug location and Sp is the piston

speed. No doubt other correlations of experimentally

observed data can be derived. For example, a simpli ed

method to calculate the value of Dyc,min will be discussed

later in this paper. In any case, the value of Dyc,min in the

key relationships of equations (8) and (9) does not

necessarily need to be known accurately. Moreover, for

lean operation even an assumed negligibly small value

for Dyc,min at the stoichiometric equivalence ratio can

produce a reasonably workable approximation for the

value of Dyc as a function of f.

For any given set of operating conditions, from the

computations during the compression stroke, the mean

values of pressure and temperature at the moment of

spark discharge are known. Equation (16) gives the value

of the minimum combustion duration, while the lean and

rich operational limits can be found using the procedure

described earlier. The constants A and B can then be

calculated. By substituting these into equation (7), the

combustion duration can be predicted. This method for

estimating the combustion duration may be applied for

various operating conditions. Only one constant C needs

to be determined by measuring the combustion duration

once for the engine of interest. A typical comparison

between the estimated combustion duration values

calculated in accordance with this procedure and the

corresponding experimental values obtained in a CFR

engine operating on methane and air is shown in Fig. 6. It

can be seen, from these typical cases, that the combustion duration estimated according to the proposed

approach produces good agreement with experimentally

derived data.

Proc Instn Mech Engrs Vol 215 Part A

Fig. 6

3.2

versus equivalence ratio and experimental data from a

CFR spark ignition engine with methane for two spark

timings

Ignition lag

ignition engine can be conceived to progress over two

primary stages, the ignition lag and the effective

combustion duration. When the spark is discharged, no

signi cant combustion energy release appears immediately since time is needed to initiate the nucleus of a

propagating ame kernel. The period of the ignition lag is

conceived to start at the moment of spark discharge and

ends at the time when a signi cant ame development

takes place involving a certain detectable amount of

burned mass and energy released. Usually, the mass of

the burned gas during the ignition lag is taken for

convenience as the criterion for the ignition lag length.

The amount has been considered to range from 1 to 5 per

cent of the total charge. Hires et al. [17] took 1 per cent of

total mass as the end of the ignition lag, while Hong [18]

considered 2 per cent as the end-point. Al-Himyary [4]

suggested 5 per cent mass consumption as the end of

ignition lag. In the present work, Al-Himyarys criterion

for ignition lag is used so that the model predictive results

can be compared with the mass of his experimentally

based diagnostic results.

In a spark ignition engine, the length of the ignition lag

is governed mainly by the chemical reaction activity and

the diffusive transport processes. Although most of the

details concerning the chemistry and uid mechanics of

the initial ame kernel growth in a spark ignition engine

A08399

IMechE 2001

parameters on the ignition lag have been investigated

[4, 19, 20]. It was found that among the many important

operational parameters in uencing the ignition lag length

are the equivalence ratio, piston speed, mixture temperature and pressure. To nd a correlation for the

variation of the ignition lag with operating conditions, a

similar procedure to that used for estimating the

combustion duration was adopted. Figure 7 shows a

typical plot of experimentally derived values of the

ignition lag with equivalence ratio [3] displaying

excessively long lags at the lean and rich limits. There

is also a minimum ignition lag that corresponds to the

fastest ame propagation for any operational conditions.

Accordingly, the variations of the ignition lag with

equivalence ratio can also be represented by a similar

exponential function to that of equation (7) obtained for

the combustion duration:

!

fmin f

f fl

69

" p

#

f min fl =fr fmin

p

18

Aig Dyig;min

1 fmin fl =fr fmin

Big

Dyig;min

p

19

found also by tting experimental data to the following

expression to produce acceptable agreement with the

corresponding experimental observations:

1=2 1=3

Dyig;min C 00

Tst Sp

CR1=2

20

angle and Aig and Big are constants. A similar approach

equations (18) and (19). Hence, the ignition lag can be

found using equation (17). Figure 8 is a typical

comparison between the estimated ignition lag using

the approach described and the corresponding results of

experimental analysis [3]. It should be remembered that,

since the value of the ignition lag always tends to be quite

small relative to the length of the combustion duration, a

less precise estimate of the length of the ignition lag

would not produce signi cant errors in estimating engine

output parameters.

Fig. 7

lag with equivalence ratio in a CFR spark ignition

engine with methane

Fig. 8

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!

f fmin

Big exp p

fr f

17

experimental data from a CFR spark-ignited engine for

methane operation for two spark timings

Proc Instn Mech Engrs Vol 215 Part A

70

3.3

mixtures

as hydrogen, ethane or propane to methane on the

effective ame burning speed and performance of an

engine has been investigated [3, 21, 22]. Generally, there

appears to be no reliable simple model capable of

predicting the burning velocity of fuel mixtures in terms

of the corresponding values of their fuel components on

their own in air within a wide range of temperature,

pressure and composition, especially in relation to spark

ignition engine applications where fully turbulent conditions prevail throughout. Hence, any correlations for the

combustion duration and ignition delay of fuel mixtures

have to be based empirically on experimental data

obtained directly from measurements of the mixed fuels

in the engine. Furthermore, the combustion duration is

inversely proportional to the ame propagation speed

which might be viewed in the case of fuel mixtures as a

mean ame speed, where the contribution of each fuel

component of the mixture would be a function of its own

ame speed under similar conditions and its concentration in the mixture. A simple expression for the

combustion duration of a fuel mixture based on

experimental observations made in a CFR engine can

be given approximately as

1

y1

y2

y3

Dyc;m Dyc1 Dyc2 Dyc3

21

the fuel mixture and Dyci is the corresponding combustion period or ignition lag for the engine when operating

with the component i on its own under the same

conditions. Dyc,m is the combustion period or ignition

lag for the mixture. To estimate the corresponding

operational limits of a mixture of fuels Le Chateliers

rule was shown to be applicable [7, 13].

A typical comparison between the estimated combustion duration and ignition lag with the corresponding

experimentally derived data [7] for mixtures of hydrogen

and methane in the CFR engine is shown in Fig. 9. Both

the combustion duration and the ignition lag as expected

were shortened as the amount of hydrogen in the fuel

mixtures was increased because of the faster combustion

characteristics of hydrogen in comparison with those of

methane. Similarly, the estimated combustion durations

and ignition lags for propanemethane and ethane

methane mixtures in Fig. 10 are presented along with

the corresponding experimental data. In these cases, the

values of the combustion duration and ignition lag did not

change substantially as the amount of propane or ethane

was changed in the fuel mixtures, re ecting the similar

combustion characteristics of these fuels with methane.

In Figs 9 and 10, the results shown were obtained using

equation (21) with known experimental values for the

Proc Instn Mech Engrs Vol 215 Part A

Fig. 9

and the ignition lag (bottom) for two spark timings for

mixtures of CH4 and H2

operating conditions. When no such experimental data

are available, then values may be estimated using the

approach described earlier with methane as a fuel. The

agreement between the predicted values of the period for

the fuel mixture and the corresponding experimental

values will then show a greater degree of deviation.

Thus, the model developed to estimate the mean

effective combustion duration and ignition lag for

methane operation may be extended for applications

involving gaseous fuels and their mixtures. Because of

the nature of the strong turbulent ow encountered within

spark ignition engines and the associated cyclic variations, in reality the combustion duration tends to uctuate

and be statistical in nature. Hence, the accurate prediction

of the combustion duration in a theoretical model, which

A08399

IMechE 2001

Fig. 10

(top) and ignition lag (bottom) with experimental

data for mixtures of ethanemethane or propane

methane for spark timings of 15 BTDC for ethane

methane and 10 BTDC for propanemethane

mixtures

71

incremental increase in cylinder volume. This set of

conditions can be used to derive a value for the

combustion duration using the two-zone predictive model

and will represent Dyc,min at that set of operating

conditions. This will enable the subsequent calculation

of the combustion duration for other operating conditions

using equations (7), (8) and (9).

As a typical example, the crank angle at the maximum

pressure for the best power output with an MBT of 27.5

BTDC at the operating condition of 8.5:1 compression

ratio, initial room temperature and atmospheric pressure

in a spark ignition CFR engine with the fuel methane was

found to be around 10 ATDC [3, 23]. Accordingly, the

predicted values of the combustion duration using this

simpli ed approach show good agreement in Fig. 11 with

the corresponding experimental values [3, 23]. In these

simpli ed calculations the ignition lag period may be

neglected, since it tends to be particularly small around

these fast burning conditions. As can be seen the

difference between the combustion durations calculated

from the model and those when using this simpli ed

approach was small and appeared to be less than 3 per

cent for the case considered. Hence, both methods

produced good agreement with the corresponding

experimental values indicating an error of less than 9

per cent for the full model and 13 per cent for the

simpli ed approach except for the very lean and rich

near-limit operations. Moreover, even the substitution of

the values of the operational limits of the engine (when

such data were unavailable) with estimated values

corresponding to the ammability limits of the same fuel

be regarded to be unnecessary for predicting engine

performance parameters with gaseous fuel operation.

3.4

combustion duration

duration is needed for use in cases where no experimental

information may be available while bearing in mind that

relatively small changes in the value of the combustion

duration will not affect drastically the predicted values of

the performance parameters of a spark ignition engine.

The fastest burning rate and the minimum combustion

duration in a spark ignition engine may be assumed with

MBT timing to occur around the stoichiometric ratio

[3, 5, 7] resulting generally in the maximum pressure

occurring just after the top dead centre position (e.g. 10

15 ATDC) when the incremental pressure rise due to

A08399

IMechE 2001

Fig. 11

using the model approach and the simpli ed method

for various equivalence ratios

Proc Instn Mech Engrs Vol 215 Part A

72

Fig. 12

cylinder in CFR engine while operating on methane

results of engine performance parameters that were

satisfactory.

approach described while operating on methane in a CFR

engine is shown in Fig. 12 with the corresponding

experimental data. In principle, the contribution of cyclic

variations to the value of key engine performance

parameters can also be analytically accounted for by

considering the statistical variations in the combustion

energy released parameters, such as the combustion

duration. Similarly, Fig. 13 shows the changes in the

calculated indicated power output versus equivalence

Fig. 13

equivalence ratio for different compression ratios

while operating on methane

Fig. 14 The indicated power output variations with equivalence ratios when operating on methanehydrogen

mixtures

corresponding experimental values. Very good agreement can be seen between the predicted and the

corresponding experimental values.

A further typical comparison involving fuel mixtures

of methanehydrogen is shown in Fig. 14. It can be seen

that the presence of very high concentrations of hydrogen

in the fuel mixtures improved slightly the indicated

power output mainly for very lean and rich mixtures,

re ecting the faster combustion of hydrogen in comparison with that of methane. The overall effect of the high

concentration of hydrogen in methane at other equivalence ratios tends to be affected somewhat adversely by

the lower heating value of hydrogen on a molar basis in

comparison with that of methane [21] and the need to

optimize spark timing with changes in both equivalence

ratio and hydrogen concentration.

Similarly, Fig. 15 shows a typical comparison of

results obtained for methanepropane and methane

ethane mixtures. It can be seen that the increasing

addition of ethane or propane to methane resulted in only

relatively small improvements in the indicated power

output at constant spark timing. This was expected

because both ethane and propane provide somewhat

faster combustion rates and higher heating values on a

volume basis than methane. Moreover, the addition of

propane tends to produce slightly higher output than the

corresponding values for ethane addition for the same

mixtures and operating conditions, since propane tends to

have slightly faster combustion rates and has a higher

heating value on a volume basis than ethane. These trends

are also consistent with those reported experimentally by

others (e.g. reference [3]). It is also evident that the

agreement between the results of the model and the

corresponding experimental data tends to be for practical

purposes very satisfactory.

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IMechE 2001

2

3

5

6

Fig. 15

on methaneethane and methanepropane mixtures

for spark timings of 15 BTDC for methaneethane

mixtures and 10 BTDC for methanepropane

mixtures

7

8

9

CONCLUSIONS

of the effective time period needed for completing ame

propagation in a spark ignition engine from the moment

of ame initiation by a spark to the end of effective

energy release by combustion for a variety of operating

conditions and fuel compositions is shown to produce

values that are in satisfactory agreement with experiment.

Calculated results of key engine performance parameters

obtained using a simple predictive two-zone model,

incorporating values of the combustion duration as

calculated according to the approaches described, agree

satisfactorily with the corresponding experimental values

obtained with a variety of gaseous fuels.

10

11

12

13

14

15

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The nancial support of the Natural Sciences and

Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and

Province of Alberta Graduate Fellowship is acknowledged. The contribution of Drs Y. Al-Alousi, T. J. AlHimyary, J. Gao and A. A. Attar to this work is also

acknowledged.

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17

18

19

20

73

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