Best Paper Award for Combustion Lab Research Team

McDonell, Sullivan-Lewis and Kalantari (from left) will receive the best paper award in June at ASME Turbo Expo 2017. April 17, 2017 - Vince McDonell, associate director of UC Irvine’s Combustion Laboratory, and two colleagues won the Best Paper Award at the Turbine Technical Conference and Exposition, hosted by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. The award, which will be presented at the ASME Turbo Expo 2017 conference in Charlotte, NC, in June, recognizes a paper the team presented at last year’s conference in Seoul, South Korea.

Written by McDonell, along with graduate student Alireza Kalantari and Elliot Sullivan-Lewis, associate manager of the Combustion Lab, the paper describes a design tool developed by the team that can predict boundary-layer “flashback” – a flame propagating upstream of the combustor – in gas turbine systems. The work evaluates the applicability of the research model to a commercial micro-turbine generator, where it can serve as a tool for identifying when flashback is likely to occur.

Natural-gas-combined-cycle (NGCC) turbine power plants generate most of the power to meet today’s energy demand, says McDonell, and although they’re cleaner than burning other types of fossil fuels such as coal, NGCC plants still emit pollutants and greenhouse gases.  “This research is enabling development of gas turbines for power generation than can operate on hydrogen-containing fuels, ideally generated from renewable resources, which will help reduce greenhouse gas and criteria pollutant emissions,” he explains. 

Kalantari, who is working toward a doctorate in mechanical engineering under the joint direction of McDonell and Scott Samuelsen, professor and director of the Advanced Power and Energy Program, says this research is part of a broader effort in the Combustion Laboratory. “We’re seeking to facilitate the operation of combustion devices on a wide array of fuel types, especially those derived from renewable resources to minimize pollutant emissions while attaining high efficiency and maintaining safe operation,” Kalantari says. “The focus is on combustion related to the generation of electricity and heat for the daily needs of consumers, businesses and industry.”

The AMSE Turbo Expo Conference is among the world’s leading conferences on turbine technology. The UCI team’s paper beat out 117 others submitted at the conference for the Best Paper Award.

-- Anna Lynn Spitzer

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