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Open Access Size and Morphology of Soot Particulates Sampled from a Turbulent Nonpremixed Acetylene Flame

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Soot processes within a turbulent nonpremixed flame burning acetylene/air were investigated by conducting thermophoretic sampling experiments at various axial and radial locations. Analyses of transmission electron microscope images yielded the mean soot spherule diameter, number of spherules per aggregate, and fractal morphology within this highly luminous turbulent flame. Specifically, translucent particles were observed at low-to-intermediate heights above the flame with the formation and evolution of young soot precursors. The soot spherule diameter peaked at 34 nm halfway along the centerline, identifying the flame regions of surface growth and oxidation processes. In the meantime, the aggregation was continuous along the flame axis with the mean number of spherules per aggregate reaching 150 at the highest sampling location. Size ranges of spherules and aggregates were narrow and broad, respectively, while the relative widths of both size distributions remained similar throughout the flame. In contrast to the observed axial variations, the radial changes of the mean spherule and aggregate sizes appeared to be small. Aggregate morphologies were universally characterized by a fractal dimension of 1.82 and a fractal prefactor of 1.9 for all the flame positions. In comparison to a lightly sooting ethylene flame, these measurements in the acetylene turbulent flame revealed that the fuel type mainly affected the axial evolution of spherule diameters but not their range, and enhanced the aggregate sizes but not their morphology. The effective decoupling of spherule and aggregate sizes permitted the separation of soot surface growth and oxidation from aggregation. This key aspect provided a stringent test for the existing particulate diagnostics and predictive models in their ability to quantify the actual particle surface area, particularly in optically thick conditions that are encountered in many practical combustion environments.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of Missouri—Rolla, Rolla, Missouri

Publication date: October 1, 2004

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