My research is aimed towards understanding fundamental aspects of reacting flows at thermodynamic conditions of relevance to aircraft, rocket, and automobile propulsion. Reacting flow phenomena occurring in engines are complicated as a result of turbulent flow, interaction with solid boundaries, and extreme thermodynamic conditions. In order to understand and simulate combustion phenomena under such conditions, there is a necessity to develop accurate chemical kinetic and molecular transport models in addition to fluid mechanics models. One aspect of my research involves measurement of fundamental flame properties using carefully designed low-dimensional experiments while avoiding complications associated with turbulence, heat loss, and instabilities. These measurements form targets against which models have to be validated and their uncertainties be constrained.
Knowledge of laminar flame ignition, propagation, extinction, and dynamic response to external transient effects is also crucial to the development of low-order, physics-based models that are necessary to design and optimize engines; current computational resources are not sufficient to simulate engine phenomena from first principles. Another focus of my research is to develop an understanding of such phenomena using direct numerical simulations incorporating detailed descriptions of chemical kinetics and molecular transport.