Project Title: Investigation of soot formation mechanism of acetylene pyrolysis using a graphene slit 

Faculty Sponsor: Frank Liu

Department: Computer Science, Engineering, and Physics



Project Description: The chemical mechanism of soot formation has been uneasy to study due to the fact that soot particles are solid phase grown from gas phase (combustion gases). The soot particle is a convoluted structure of carbons and therefore analyzing them still only provided very limited information about how they grew from the beginning. Finding a initial condition of carbon edge from which the soot layer can grow becomes a critical issue for studying soot formation mechanism.

Graphene is a planar structure of sp2 carbon so that it could serve as a good initial condition for soot formation. Much effort has been put into how to create a cost-effective process to grow a graphene layer because of its superior properties and potential in application in electronic devices. Some have successfully grow high quality graphene from engine exhaust. This project aims to use high quality graphene that is available from the market and create a "slit" at it while it is placed in soot precursor- acetylene. How fast the soot grows from the edge of the slit can be used to assess the reaction rate of the commonly known soot formation mechanism- H-abstraction-C-addition (HACA).

Acetylene will be diluted with nitrogen and the mixture gas will be pumped into a high temperature tube furnace (800-1100 oC). The graphene slit will be placed at the exit of the furnace. Gas chromatography will be used to analyze resultant gases and the soot and graphene structure will be examined using XPS or Raman spectroscopy.

Student Tasks & Responsibilities:  The student's task is to design a device that can hold a sheet of graphene in place, tear the graphene apart, and finally test the function of the device in a high temperature pipe line. The student is responsible of initializing the design and effectively communicating with the faculty adviser. The student is also required to help building the piping systems to introduce acetylene and nitrogen gases into the tube furnace.

The student will be expected to draft a conference paper with assistance from the faculty adviser.

Minimum Qualifications: Students with following experiences or courses is preferred.

  • CAD design
  • Fluid mechanics
  • Heat transfer