Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Dept. of Mechanical Engineering School of Engineering and Technology Combustion & Propulsion Research Laboratory Lugar Center for Renewable Energy
Pressure-gain combustion clean efficient jet engines and power plants
The gas turbine has been an enormously successful power plant for aircraft and marine propulsion, and electric power generation, due to its light weight, smooth and reliable operation, low emissions, and varied applications. The world's power plant and transportation gas turbines burn fuel worth about $350 billion dollars every year. But these plants are not efficient enough in converting fuel energy to useful work, due to fundamental thermodynamic limitations imposed by turbomachinery technology. I am investigating alternative thermodynamic cycles and pulsed combustion systems for propulsion and gas turbine applications, developing a key new component called a wave rotor combustor. We estimate that over a fifth of the fuel consumption and corresponding greenhouse gas emissions could be avoided with this technology. My industry collaboration with Rolls Royce North American Technologies, Inc. and small businesses is taking this concept into commercial use. Laboratory experiments and computer simulations at IUPUI are have shown strong evidence that the theoretical performance predicted for the wave rotor combustor can be achieved in practice. Development work by industry and larger scale experiments at Purdue University are under way. The research into wave rotor combustion in engines involves the disciplines of mechanical engineering, physics, electrical engineering, and chemistry. The gas flows and heat transfers are core mechanical engineering subjects; fuel oxidation and pollutant formation are chemical processes; experimental methods for measuring combustion processes require optical and laser physics; ignition, data acquisition and control are electrical engineering topics. IU has patented 3 of my inventions related to this technology, and a fourth has been licensed pending patent. More disclosures are in process.