Numerical Investigation of Soot Formation in Non-premixed Flames

  • Ahmed Gamaleldin Abdelgadir

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Soot is a carbon particulate formed as a result of the combustion of fossil fuels. Due to the health hazard posed by the carbon particulate, government agencies have applied strict regulations to control soot emissions from road vehicles, airplanes, and industrial plants. Thus, understanding soot formation and evolution is critical. Practical combustion devices operate at high pressure and in the turbulent regime. Elevated pressures and turbulence on soot formation significantly and fundamental understanding of these complex interactions is still poor. In this study, the effects of pressure and turbulence on soot formation and growth are investigated numerically. As the first step, the evolution of the particle size distribution function (PSDF) and soot particles morphology are investigated in turbulent non-premixed flames. A Direct Simulation Monte Carlo (DSMC) code is developed and used. The stochastic reactor describes the evolution of soot in fluid parcels following Lagrangian trajectories in a turbulent flow field. The trajectories are sampled from a Direct Numerical Simulation (DNS) of an n-heptane turbulent non-premixed flame. Although individual trajectories display strong bimodality as in laminar flames, the ensemble-average PSDF possesses only one mode and a broad tail, which implies significant polydispersity induced by turbulence. Secondly, the effect of the flow and mixing fields on soot formation at atmospheric and elevated pressures is investigated in coflow laminar diffusion flames. The experimental observation and the numerical prediction of the spatial distribution are in good agreement. Based on the common scaling methodology of the flames (keeping the Reynolds number constant), the scalar dissipation rate decreases as pressure increases, promoting the formation of PAH species and soot. The decrease of the scalar dissipation rate significantly contributes to soot formation occurring closer to the nozzle and outward on the flames wings as pressure increases. The scaling of the scalar dissipation rate is not straightforward due to buoyancy effects. Finally, a new scaling approach of the flame at different pressures is introduced. In this approach, both Reynolds number and Grashof number are kept constant so that the effect of gravity is the same at all pressures. In order to keep Gr constant, this requires the diameter of the nozzle to be changed as pressures vary. This approach guarantees a similar non-dimensional flow field at all pressures and rules out the effect of hydrodynamics and mixing, so that only the effect of chemical kinetics on soot formation can be studied.
Date of AwardMay 2017
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Physical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorFabrizio Bisetti (Supervisor)


  • Soot
  • Monte Carlo
  • Diffusion flame
  • High pressure
  • scalar dissipation

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