Mainstream Engineering Awarded Contract from the Office of Naval Research for the Study of JP-8 Flame Structure in Oxygen-Enriched Air

ROCKLEDGE, FL – December 21, 2009 – Mainstream Engineering Corporation (MEC), a leading research and development company specializing in thermal control and energy conversion, has been awarded a contract from the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research to study oxygen-enriched flames with JP-8, a kerosene-based fuel used by the military for all engines, stoves, and burners. MEC is collaborating on this program with Prof. Daniel Kirk of the Florida Institute of Technology (Melbourne, FL), who is the lead institution for the project.

Oxygen-enriched combustion is expected to substantially improve the performance of MEMS-based micro-combustors needed for micropower generation. A solid fundamental understanding of oxygen-enriched combustion chemistry and the associated flame properties, such as flame speed, is needed to push the development of these power systems forward. This fundamental understanding is now sorely lacking. For example, existing combustion reaction mechanisms, which are generally tailored for combustion in ambient air, do not predict the correct flame speed trends for even the simplest hydrocarbon fuels in oxygen-enriched air.

This study will experimentally investigate the flame structure, flame speed, flammability limits, quenching distance, and thermo-acoustic noise of premixed, oxygen-enriched flames of JP-8 and a well-established surrogate. The measured data will be used to construct and validate a skeletal reaction mechanism for the combustion of the JP-8 surrogate (n-decane) under elevated oxygen concentrations. The reaction mechanism will then be used to design an oxygen-enriched, micro-scale combustor for MEMS power generation.

Oxygen-enriched micro-combustors have the potential for compatibility with logistics fuels and elimination of the need for expensive platinum catalysts. This research program will provide the data and mechanistic understanding needed for the development of these devices. This project supports the Navy’s efforts to increase freedom-of-action and operational effectiveness through efficient power systems.