Development of next generation high-efficiency, low-emission engines require extending the pressure and temperature operation ranges beyond current limits. A novel approach known as the plasma-assisted combustion (PAC) has recently demonstrated considerable promise, which can play an important role in enhancing the basic combustion process. However, the details of exact chemical enhancement mechanisms remain largely unknown. The main goal of this project is to design, fabricate and assemble a unique plasma coupled experimental apparatus that will enable the scientific investigation of PAC at engine relevant conditions. Additionally, additive manufacturing techniques will be leveraged to fabricate customized metallic components of complex geometries not possible with traditional subtractive methods. This project will also include educational and workforce development activities to train a new generation of engineers and scientists with the interdisciplinary technical skills. These efforts will ultimately reduce fuel consumption, ensure energy security, mitigate the environmental impact of next generation engines, and position the US as a leader in the development of innovative technologies for transportation/energy applications.

This MRI program will allow a multi-disciplinary group of researchers to develop a unique plasma coupled rapid compression (PRCM), that is capable of compressing a gaseous fuel and oxidizer mixture to instigate combustion while under the effects of a non-equilibrium plasma. Taking advantage of additive manufacturing, the modularity of this device will allow a variety of different diagnostic measurements to be performed in order to accurately observe plasma formation, and ultimately interpret auto-ignition chemistry and physical-chemical interactions with and without the influence of a plasma. The device also provides well-defined boundary conditions to compliment experimental studies with numerical modelling approaches. Based on this instrument, the project aims to elucidate the following scientific investigations: a) understand the kinetic oxidation scheme of low-temperature combustion (cool flame chemistry) of hydrocarbon fuels, practical fuels, and surrogate fuels; b) understand the combustion characteristics of new generation biofuels derived from algae and non-food source terrestrial biomass; c) understand the role of plasma chemical effects on the kinetic oxidation scheme of cool flame chemistry of fuels; and d) demonstrate PAC as a means to enable advanced compression ignition strategies. Experimental data derived from this device will be used to develop and validate accurate plasma-specific and low-temperature chemical kinetic models for use in predictive simulations tools, thus enabling the design of future engines and improved combustion systems.

This project is jointly funded by CBET-MRI Program and the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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Auburn University
United States
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