Nonequilibrium Plasma-Assisted Combustion-Efficiency Control in Vitiated Air

Period of Performance: 02/13/2014 - 11/14/2014


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

CU Aerospace
301 North Neil St. Array
Champaign, IL 61820
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Research Institution

University of Illinois
1901 South First Street Suite A, MC-685
Champaign, IL 61820
Institution POC


ABSTRACT: CU Aerospace (CUA) and team partner the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) propose to perform research, development and demonstration of experimental quenching free measurements of heat-release in a realistic highly turbulent plasma-assisted flame. Kinetics models will be correspondingly updated and detailed 3D multiphysics simulations will be validated by the measurements. Current diagnostic tools are difficult to implement for 2D measurements of intermediate species to support the modeling and physical understanding of these complex processes. To fill this technology gap, this proposal introduces innovations that will produce the higher precision diagnostic techniques and greatly enhance knowledge of these plasmadynamic and chemical kinetic phenomena. This SBIR effort will lead to aircraft engine design improvements that will provide enhanced combustion efficiency, reignition and flame holding for very high altitude, high-speed flight in Phase II of this program. These enhancements and understanding will have major implications for the expansion of aircraft mission envelopes, and our goal is to jointly develop with UIUC these diagnostic and software tools of choice for the industry. BENEFIT: The Phase I results will lay the foundation to develop a prototype diagnostic and modeling suite for comprehensive development and testing in the Phase II program. Incorporating the Phase I diagnostic techniques along with Air Force guidance for most desired features, the diagnostic and software suite will be enhanced and tested extensively in Phase II as a product demonstration unit. Applications of the developed approach include next generation warfighters capable of flying at higher altitudes and/or higher speeds, and technologies that would be used by engine manufacturers for the development of high-altitude propulsion systems, possibly enabling low-cost to space access via hybrid hypersonic launch. Commercial applications that utilize control of plasma enhanced combustion have the potential to fundamentally bring transformative changes to our combustion-based energy infrastructure by providing (1) the potential for flexible and broad integration of alternative fuels and plasma technology in our everyday lives; (2) more powerful and energy efficient combustion systems for power generation and transportation; (3) reduction of harmful pollutants in our environment; (4) improvements in national security from fuel blends with less dependence on foreign oil, and (5) a more sustainable and efficient energy infrastructure. Furthermore, plasma assisted chemistry could have broader impact in many other areas where it is beneficial to manipulate species content and reaction pathways, including plasma assisted processing of materials, environmental remediation of waste streams such as from smokestacks, and plasma lighting. The Phase II goal will initially be to optimize the diagnostic and software, and design features for Air Force specifications, followed by optimization for more commercial programs.