Combustion plays a key role in our society by providing a high-energy source for many thermodynamic applications such as diesel engines, gas turbines, and rockets. Thus, knowledge of the combustion chemistry of gas-phase hydrocarbons at elevated pressures is important for two main reasons: 1) they are the building blocks of the combustion chemistry of larger hydrocarbons, and 2) they are components of natural gas and related fuel blends in engine applications. For example, gas turbine engines operating on natural gas (mostly methane) are used for power generation.
In our laboratory, we have three shock tubes capable of producing high-temperature conditions ranging from 700 to 4000 K and pressures up 100 atm. Utilizing optical diagnostic techniques, we are able to perform chemical kinetics studies on reacting flows. We perform experimental measurements of global kinetics parameters such as ignition delay time and targeted kinetics measurements of single species time evolution during the combustion process (speciation). Ignition delay time data are of great importance to the design and optimization of combustion engines and serve as global validation targets for chemical kinetics models. On the other hand, speciation measurements are valuable data to further refine accurate kinetics models and to determine rate coefficients of specific reactions. This research leads to a better understanding and predictability of the combustion process, improves combustion efficiency, and reduces the emissions footprint.
More details on the shock-tube kinetics research in our group can found in: