"Our work with lean direct injection spray flames has so far been limited to flames produced at atmospheric pressures," he says. "In a real jet engine, the pressures are much higher, and that's the next step for me and my students combining sprays with high pressure."
Cooper, from Batesville, Ark., has been working in Laurendeau's lab, the Flame Diagnostics Laboratory, for three years. He is building the high- pressure facility to see if the laser-measurement techniques will work on spray flames in that environment.
"There are problems getting the spray flames to stabilize in a high- pressure chamber, and we also have to be concerned with interference from the fluorescence of other species of molecules in the flame," Cooper says. "There are going to be numerous challenges, but I think we can do it." Lean direct injection engines are now under development, and Laurendeau says the Purdue research will help assure the designers and manufacturers that they can reduce the nitric oxide produced by the new engine.
"If we can get accurate data for designers, then they can use that data to develop models, and essentially design a gas turbine engine on a computer," Laurendeau continues. "This saves money for industry, and ultimately the consumer, because the cost of running tests during the design phase is absolutely enormous."
Laurendeau says automobile manufacturers also are interested in seeing if his techniques can be applied to examining pollutants produced by car engines, which run on a slightly different type of combustion process than gas turbine engines.
Laurendeau's techniques rely on laser-induced fluorescence. He shines a
powerful laser on a flame, and the molecules of the pollutants in the flame
absorb the energy in the laser light. The molecules then "relax," losing
Contact: Amanda Siegfried