Clean Sustainable Energy through Supercomputer Simulation of Turbulent Combustion of Alternative Fuels

Abstract

Combustion of fuels is currently the most dominant technology to supply the world’s energy and to power transportation vehicles. A dominance that is expected to continue in the foreseeable future, as many projections have indicated. With current concerns over energy security, fuel costs and environmental impacts of fossil fuel combustion, there has been an increasing interest on other fuels (such as bio-ethanol and biodiesel) as alternatives to petroleum-based fuels. This is mainly due to their long-term promise of fuel-source sustainability and reduced environmental effects. However, combustion characteristics of wide range of fuels in realistic engine operating conditions is still not well understood; high-fidelity simulation tools are needed to gain insight into details of combustion and emission performance of such fuels. This can help accelerate and reduce costs associated with synthesis and utilization of these fuels in existing and improved combustion devices, such as internal combustion engines and gas turbines. The objective of our research is to develop and apply advanced methodologies for accurate prediction of turbulent combustion of various fuels. Our current efforts are focused on large eddy simulation, widely known to be the optimal means of capturing the detailed physics of turbulent flows. The chemistry of combustion is considered using detailed kinetics of fuel oxidation, along with a novel probabilistic strategy to accurately describe the turbulence chemistry interactions. This approach has so far shown a lot of promise in accurate prediction of turbulent combustion.