Improved understanding of soot formation will enable manufacturers to design and build high-performance engines that emit less pollution.

Soot formation in gas turbine engines is a major concern in the design of modern aircraft propulsion systems. Gas turbine engines are a source of particulate matter emissions, a substantial fraction of which consist of soot particles with diameters of less than 2.5 microns, or PM2.5, that are subject to regulation  under the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. The long-term solution is to build DoD’s engines of the future in a way that reduces their emissions—a daunting challenge given the complexity involved.

Minimization of emissions from gas turbine engines during initial design is currently not possible. Accurate modeling of soot formation is difficult due to the complex underlying chemical and physical processes. These processes involve a sequence of gas phase reactions, followed by particle inception, particle-particle interactions, condensation, particle growth, and oxidation. The reactions involve literally hundreds of chemical species and take place in extreme environments of pressure, temperature, and turbulence. This environment is challenging for both modeling and measurements.

Dr. Mel Roquemore led a collaborative team from academia, industry, and government laboratories in advancing the fundamental science relevant to the formation of PM2.5. The team conducted experiments and simulations to understand the chemistry, fluid dynamics, and thermodynamics of particle formation in high-performance engines. Validated detailed soot and full chemical models can be applied, in conjunction with full 3-D combustor design codes, to estimate soot and other emissions for gas turbine combustors.

This research represents a critical achievement in the quest to enable jet engine manufacturers to design and build engines that emit less pollution.

For this work, Dr. Roquemore received a Project-of-the-Year award at the annual Partners in Environmental Technology Technical Symposium & Workshop held November 29 –December 1, 2011, in Washington, D.C.  

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