Project Title: Investigation of preferential vaporization of multi-component fuel mixtures using mid-infrared absorption techniques 

Faculty Sponsor: Frank Liu

Department: Computer Science, Engineering, and Physics



Project Description: This proposed study aims to develop better understanding in light absorption of fuel mixture molecules that can be used as a basis of laser diagnostics for liquid fuel combustion in a near future. A broader future research area includes ignition and combustion of complex liquid fuels, engine exhaust and intake diagnostics. The proposed project in this boarder picture is designed to provide evidence that during liquid fuel combustion, the evaporation of multi-component liquid fuels depends greatly on each fuel component’s volatility. This issue has been often ignored in most combustion studies and analyses of practical combustion applications like engines. The importance of this problem stems from the fact that fuels are often injected into combustion chamber in most transportation systems where fuel ignition occurs in a multi-phase (liquid/gas) situation. Although combustion is mainly a gas phase phenomenon, the fuel vapor concentration could well be controlled by liquid evaporation during liquid combustion. A concentration measurement that is non-intrusive to the combustion system, e.g. light absorption measurement using monochromatic wavelength of light or laser, would be very suitable for this situation.    

The objective of this project includes the following three main categories: 1) to assessing the viability of non-intrusive concentration measurement for multi-component liquid and vapor fuel mixtures using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR); 2) to use the developed concentration detection technique to perform measurements for fuel systems that are more relevant to transportation fuels; 3) to identify laser sources  and particular wavelength of light from the FTIR spectra that are useful for the concentration detection during real fuel evaporation and combustion. The fuel mixture of interest is the simple surrogate fuel of gasoline (n-heptane, iso-octane, toluene) blended with ethanol and different butanol isomers. 

Student Tasks & Responsibilities:  

  1. Set up simple fuel evaporation experiments in a fume hood.
  2. Collect sample at specific time of evaporation.
  3. Take the samples to FT-IR for measurement.
  4. Collect FT-IR data and discuss with supervisor in the weekly meeting.
  5. Ignite small amount of fuels in a fume hood under supervising.

Minimum Qualifications: 

  1. Junior standing
  2. Major: Engineering, Chemistry, Biology or other STEM majors.
  3. Previous lab experience.
  4. Familiarity with handling data in Excel.
  5. Enthusiasm in fuel/combustion/energy research and willing to learn new techniques.