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Title: Plasma Assisted Combustion: Fundamental Studies and Engine Applications
Authors: Lefkowitz, Joseph Kalman
Advisors: Ju, Yiguang
Contributors: Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department
Keywords: Absorption Spectroscopy
Subjects: Mechanical engineering
Aerospace engineering
Plasma physics
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Successful and efficient ignition in short residence time environments or ultra-lean mixtures is a key technological challenge for the evolution of advanced combustion devices in terms of both performance and efficiency. To meet this challenge, interest in plasma assisted combustion (PAC) has expanded over the past 20 years. However, understanding of the underlying physical processes of ignition by plasma discharge remains elementary. In order to shed light on the key processes involved, two main thrusts of research were undertaken in this dissertation. First, demonstration of the applicability of plasma discharges in engines and engine-like environments was carried out using a microwave discharge and a nanosecond repetitively pulsed discharge in an internal combustion engine and a pulsed detonation engine, respectively. Major conclusions include the extension of lean ignition limits for both engines, significant reduction of ignition time for mixtures with large minimum ignition energy, and the discovery of the inter-pulse coupling effect of nanosecond repetitively pulsed (NRP) discharges at high frequency. In order to understand the kinetic processes that led to these improvements, the second thrust of research directly explored the chemical kinetic processes of plasma discharges with hydrocarbon fuels. For this purpose, a low pressure flow reactor with a NRP dielectric barrier discharge cell was assembled. The discharge cell was fitted with a Herriott type multipass mirror arrangement, which allowed quantitative laser absorption spectroscopy to be performed in situ during the plasma discharge. Experiments on methane and ethylene mixtures with oxygen, argon, and helium revealed the importance of low temperature oxidation pathways in PAC. In particular, oxygen addition reactions were shown to be of primary importance in the oxidation of these small hydrocarbons in the temperature range of 300-600 K. Kinetic modeling tools, including both a coupled plasma and combustion chemistry solver and appropriate reaction models, were developed and compared to the experimental results, revealing excellent agreement for major fuel consumption pathways, but significant disagreement in the predictions of smaller concentration products. The individual reactions responsible for the observed disagreements were identified, and directions for further research are discussed.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

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