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Soot Formation and Emission in Fires

Vivien Lecoustre (Research Assoc.)

NSF (OCI, PetaApps Program), DOE (NERSC)
Collaborators: D. Haworth (Pennstate U.), H.G. Im (U. MI),
T. Lu (U. Connecticut), R. Sankaran (Oak Ridge Ntl. Lab.)

Combustion-generated soot emission is a major concern in the design of practical engines as these emissions not only reduce energy efficiencies but also are detrimental to the environment and human health. Soot emission is also a major concern in fire applications because soot particles are a dominant factor in determining both flame/smoke radiation properties and the general ability of an enclosure fire or an open fire to spread.

Numerical simulations are performed with a Direct Numerical Simulation (DNS) solver called S3d, which is developed at Sandia National Laboratories for fundamental studies of flame-flow interactions. S3d is a massively parallel compressible flow solver that features high-order explicit time integration, high-order finite difference spatial discretization, non-reflecting boundary conditions, coupled with a first-principles-based description of the flow and a CHEMKIN-based model to describe detailed molecular transport and detailed chemical kinetics. In addition, S3d features a series of multi-physics models that have been developed over recent years to describe physical and chemical processes associated with thermal radiation transport and soot formation, growth and oxidation.

DNS simulation of soot breakthrough in a canonical laminar flame/vortex interaction problem. The figures show the wrinkling of the diffusion flame in response to the flow generated by a vortex pair. Instantaneous distribution of soot volume fraction (left) and temperature (right). The position of the thin flame zone is identified by a dashed-dot line (left) or a solid line (right).   The left picture reveals soot breakthrough, i.e. transport of un-oxidized soot from the fuel-side (on the right) to the air-side (on the left) of the flame. Such detailed simulations provide a unique tool for a basic understanding of the microphysics responsible for soot emission in combustion systems.

To learn more:

Arias, P.G., Lecoustre, V.R., Roy, S.P., Luo, Z., Haworth, D.C., Lu, T.F., Trouvé, A. and Im, H.G. (2015) “Dynamics of flow-soot interaction in wrinkled nonpremixed ethylene-air flames,” Combust. Theory Modelling 19:568-586.

Roy, S.P., Arias, P.G., Lecoustre, V.R., Haworth, D.C., Im, H.G. and Trouvé, A. (2014) “Development of high fidelity soot aerosol dynamics models using method of moments with interpolative closure,” Aerosol Sci. Technol., 48:379–391.


Vivien Lecoustre is a Research Associate in the Department of Fire Protection Engineering. For further information about his research, Vivien can be contacted at