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Chemical Kinetics

hydrogen and oxygen atoms
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Why do we study chemical kinetics?

At elevated temperatures and pressures, gas molecules collide more frequently, leading to increased rates of chemical reaction and energy transfer processes. Understanding these processes is key to designing more efficient, high-performance energy and propulsion systems. High-bandwidth species time-history measurements, in particular, provide an in-depth understanding of the oxidation and pyrolysis behavior of various fuels. Meanwhile, quantitative reaction rate measurements aid in the development of high-fidelity models to describe non-equilibrium processes associated with atmospheric reentry, aircraft propulsion, and other high-temperature energy conversion processes.

Chemical kinetics graph
Path length-normalized absorbance traces at nine wavelengths during the pyrolysis of 2% propane in Ar at 1410 K, near 4 atm [1]

How do we study chemical kinetics?

In the Hanson Research Group, we use shock tubes to generate the high-temperature, high-pressure conditions relevant to modern-day energy and propulsion systems. We then use a variety of optical diagnostics (developed in-house) to non-intrusively track the evolution of various species in time, measure key reaction rates and ignition characteristics, and monitor thermodynamic parameters like temperature and pressure. This approach gives us unparalleled insight into the chemical kinetic processes governing the reaction and energy transfer processes present at high temperatures.


[1] Cassady, S. J., Choudhary, R., Boddapati, V., Pinkowski, N. H., Davidson, D. F., & Hanson, R. K. (2020). “The pyrolysis of propane,” International Journal of Chemical Kinetics, 52(11), 725–738