Investigation on the flame dynamics of meso-combustors

Mahbub Ahmed, University of Texas at El Paso


Miniature heat engines burning hydrogen and hydrocarbon fuels have significantly higher energy densities compared to conventional lithium batteries and thus will play an essential role in the portable production of power for future electronics, remote sensors, and micro aerial vehicles. Additionally, miniature heat engines will tremendously benefit next generation of environmental technologies such as steam reforming, ammonia decomposition and fuel cells. Successful miniaturization of heat engine components demand a more complete and broader understanding of micro-fluid dynamics and micro-combustion phenomena associated with the combustor design. This dissertation is aimed at investigating the details of the micro-mixing dynamics and the combustion behavior of the meso-combustor and to create fundamental understanding of physics based design methodology. The primary goals of the project are (i) to develop an understanding of fuel-air mixing inside a meso-combustor, (ii) to develop an understanding of the flame stability (flame quenching and velocity blowout) criteria of a meso-combustor, (iii) to understand the thermal behavior of the meso-combustor, and (iv) to correlate these with combustor operating conditions such as the Reynolds number, equivalent ratio, and thermal power etc. The present study shows that adequate mixing of fuel and air is achievable in millimeter scale combustors. Both computed results and experimental measurements of iso-thermal (non-burning) flows at different mixing configurations indicate that the laminar burning velocity remains higher than the local flow velocities in most of the combustor locations to support stable flame propagations. Stable flames of hydrogen are achieved for all mixing and flow configurations. The combustion of methane with air as oxidizer in the combustors is unreliable. However, highly stable combustion of methane at various mixing and flow conditions is achieved when pure oxygen is used as an oxidizer. The current study reveals that for a given flow-rate of H2, the exhaust temperature decreases by increasing the number of inlets. The maximum temperatures are observed at fuel lean conditions for all inlet configurations. Again, at a given equivalence ratio the burning efficiency of fuel is increased with increasing airflow rate. The conversion of fuel has been found almost identical regardless of the inlet configurations.

Subject Area

Mechanical engineering|Materials science

Recommended Citation

Ahmed, Mahbub, "Investigation on the flame dynamics of meso-combustors" (2008). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI3311399.