Wenkai Liang has been named the recipient of the Maeder Graduate Fellowship in Energy and the Environment for the academic year 2015-2016. Mr. Liang is a third-year postdoctoral candidate in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. The abstract below summarizes the research he will conduct during the year. Selection for the Maeder Fellowship is based on the potential of the research and researcher to help develop technical solutions to ensure our sustainable energy and environmental future.
A major focus of combustion research is advancing toward a predictive modeling capability for combustion processes associated with energy use and related environmental concerns. Reaching this goal requires an accurate yet concise representation of combustion chemistry within a computational model. However, the problem lies in combustion chemistry’s notorious complexity, which encompasses thousands of coupled reactions that must be described over large ranges of pressure and temperature. Therefore, modeling the complex reaction networks describing the oxidation of fossil and alternative fuels is essential to the satisfactory performance of various energy conversion devices, such as the automotive engines and stationary power-plants, in terms of their energy conversion efficiencies and exhaust emissions.
This research project first aims to analyze the oxidation network of hydrogen-oxygen mixtures. Although considered as a promising clean and energetic alternative fuel, hydrogen is hazardous during transportation and storage due to its high tendency of explosions. Our study focuses on the development of accurate theories for the prediction of hydrogen explosions. The project will then be extended in two directions: to the ignition of hydrocarbon fuels of immensely more complex reaction networks, and to the inhomogeneous high-temperature systems describing flame propagation and extinction. The availability of such limits not only will facilitate the design and optimization of the operational limits of hydrogen- as well as hydrocarbon-fueled combustion devices, but they also hold the potential as the starting point to develop reaction networks of reduced order for integration in large-scale computational codes for the simulation of complex and practical combustion phenomena.