Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics


Aeronautics and Astronautics

Committee Chair

Haifeng Wang

Committee Member 1

Gregory Blaisdell

Committee Member 2

William Anderson


There is a boost in the utilization of renewable sources of energy but because of high energy density applications, combustion will never be obsolete. Spray combustion is a type of multiphase combustion which has tremendous engineering applications in different fields, varying from energy conversion devices to rocket propulsion system. Developing accurate computational models for turbulent spray combustion is vital for improving the design of combustors and making them energy efficient. Flamelet models have been extensively used for gas phase combustion because of their relatively low computational cost to model the turbulence-chemistry interaction using a low dimensional manifold approach. This framework is designed for gas phase non-premixed combustion and its implementation is not very straight forward for multiphase and multi-regime combustion such as spray combustion. This is because of the use of a conserved scalar and various flamelet related assumptions. Mixture fraction has been popularly employed as a conserved scalar and hence used to parameterize the characteristics of gaseous flamelets. However, for spray combustion, the mixture fraction is not monotonic and does not give a unique mapping in order to parameterize the structure of spray flames. In order to develop a flamelet type model for spray flames, a new variable called the mixing variable is introduced which acts as an ideal conserved scalar and takes into account the convection and evaporation of fuel droplets. In addition to the conserved scalar, it has been observed that though gaseous flamelets can be characterized by the conserved scalar and its dissipation, this might not be true for spray flamelets. Droplet dynamics has a significant influence on the spray flamelet and because of effects such as flame penetration of droplets and oscillation of droplets across the stagnation plane, it becomes important to accommodate their influence in the flamelet formulation. In order to recognize the droplet parameters needed, a rigorous parametric study is conducted for five different parameters in both physical as well as mixing variable space. The parametric study is conducted for a counterflow setup with n-heptane (nC7H16) and inert nitrogen on the fuel side and oxygen with inert nitrogen on the oxidizer side. The computational setup (the temperature and velocity field) is validated against the experimental data from the Yale heptane counterflow flame. The five parameters that are investigated are: aerodynamic strain rate (a), initial droplet diameter (d0), number of fuel droplets (Np), droplet velocity slip ratio (η) and pre-vaporization ratio (ψ). It is not the first time such a study has been accomplished but not a lot of research has been done for heavier fuels such as n-heptane (a very crucial reference fuel for the octane ratings in various applications). Also parameters such as droplet slip ratio and pre-vaporization ratio have not been prudently studied in the past. It is observed that though the slip ratio is not very significant in spray flamelet characterization, the pre-vaporization ratio is important to study and has an interesting influence on spray flamelet structure. In future, based on the current parametric study, the laminar spray flamelet library can be generated which will eventually be integrated to predict turbulent spray flames.