WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. Purdue University researchers are blazing the trail in the use of lasers to detect and measure pollutants in burning fuel, and their efforts could lead to more fuel-efficient, cleaner-burning jet engines.
Normand Laurendeau, the Reilly Professor of Combustion Engineering at Purdue, has spent the past 15 years developing novel ways to "look" into flames and determine the amount of pollutants, such as nitric oxide, that are produced during combustion.
Nitric oxide, a primary pollutant produced by aircraft engines, is a major concern because it can damage the Earth's protective ozone layer, Laurendeau says.
"In our latest work, we measured the amount of nitric oxide produced in spray flames, a process where liquid fuel sprays through a small hole to form droplets, which are then ignited," Laurendeau says. "This is the basic combustion process in jet aircraft engines. Before we did this, there was no evidence at all that these measurements could even be made inside fuel sprays, and we're the only lab in the country that has done this."
Laurendeau's doctoral student Clayton Cooper presented results from the spray-flame experiments at the International Symposium on Combustion in Boulder, Colo. The researchers also published an article on their research methods in the July issue of the journal Applied Optics.
Laurendeau is working with jet-engine manufacturers to determine the amount of pollutants that would be produced in more fuel-efficient, next- generation engines, which are designed to use a kind of fuel spray called lean direct injection. He and his students are the first to conduct such diagnostic experiments on this design.
Based on his research, Laurendeau says this type of engine design could
significantly reduce nitric oxide production, although more tests are neede
Contact: Amanda Siegfried