Understanding and controlling the chemistry of ignition behavior and pollutant formation could pave way for cleaner, efficient internal combustion engines, reports a Sandia study.
“Our findings will allow the design of new fuels and improved combustion strategies,” says lead author of the research Nils Hansen. “Making combustion cleaner and more efficient will have a huge impact, reducing energy use around the globe.”
The work, which focuses on the chemical science of low-pressure flame measurements, aims on creating a massive datatset of flames and fuels.
The team has already combined the output from carefully controlled measurements on a wide range of fuels into a single categorized and annotated dataset.
Correlations among the 55 individual flames involving 30 different fuels were then used to reduce uncertainty, identify inconsistent data and disentangle the effects of the fuel structure on chemical combustion pathways that lead to harmful pollutants.
An initial analysis considered relationships among peak concentrations of chemical intermediates that play a role in molecular weight growth and eventual soot formation.
According to Hansen, this is the first time researchers are looking at such possibilities.
By identifying inconsistencies, the new methods could ultimately lead to better models for understanding combustion.
Previous studies have so far reported data from a single flame or a few flames, along with one new mechanism for a specific fuel.
However, the approach pioneered by Hansen’s team paves way for measuring a large number of flames as well as publishing numerous mechanisms that are not usually cross-validated with other data and mechanisms.
Hansen compares the discovery to the unearthing of an old artifact.
Very few conclusions can be drawn from a single artifact. However, piecing together thousands of similar artifacts creates a more complete historical picture.
“Our work reveals information typically hidden in the ensemble of low-pressure flame data,” says Hansen.
“For example, useful targets for model validation can be gleaned from a database with more than 30,000 data points.”
“Our goal is to better understand and ultimately control the chemistry of ignition behavior and pollutant formation. Subsequently, this will lead to clean and efficient internal combustion engines.”
Image and content: Dino Vournas/Sandia National Laboratories