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Combustion Diagnostics

The Energy Systems Laboratory saw significant equipment upgrades over summer 2018. Researchers in the laboratory work on fundamental and applied combustion. A Finnigan TRACE mass spectrometer underwent repairs and was used after nearly a decade of dormancy. A new Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer was also acquired. Funds from the Office of Research and Economic Development matching grant and Idaho Space Grant Consortium project enabled these upgrades. Both devices are now being used to study the oxidation kinetics of conventional and alternative fuels in internal combustion engines, as well as in solid fuel combustion research.

Ph.D. student, Elyasa Al-Gharibeh, investigated oxidation of premixed n-heptane during the early stages of ignition in a single cylinder Cooperative Fuel Research (CFR) engine located in the Small Engine Research Facility. The progress of reactions was followed based on the exhaust speciation analysis using a Gas Chromatograph coupled to the Mass Spectrometer. A clear picture of the evolution of reactant intermediates was obtained for various compression ratios as shown in the figures below.

Total Ion Chromatogram (a) retention times 2.5–4.0 min (b) 4.4–5.15 min, and (c)5.2–14.0 min
Total Ion Chromatogram (a) retention times 2.5–4.0 min (b) 4.4–5.15 min, and (c)5.2–14.0 min

These motored engine studies using the Mass Spectrometer are expected to provide valuable information for the validation of combustion models for conventional and alternative fuels. The validated models can then be used to design cleaner and more efficient engines.

The newly acquired Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer (FTIR) has been extensively used by master’s degree student, Samuel Stuhlman, to understand the oxidation kinetics of American Coals. His work is relevant to processes that use coal to produce value-added chemicals or in combustion for power production. A qualitative comparison of the species evolution trend over the entire temperature range from his study are shown in the figures below.


Article by Dr. Kamal Kumar, Mechanical Engineering

Qualitative species evolution trends for high, medium, low volatile and subbituminous coals.
Qualitative species evolution trends for high, medium, low volatile and subbituminous coals.

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