Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering–Engineering Mechanics (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics


Jeffrey Donald Naber


Internal combustion engines are, and will continue to be, a primary mode of power generation for ground transportation. Challenges exist in meeting fuel consumption regulations and emission standards while upholding performance, as fuel prices rise, and resource depletion and environmental impacts are of increasing concern. Diesel engines are advantageous due to their inherent efficiency advantage over spark ignition engines; however, their NOx and soot emissions can be difficult to control and reduce due to an inherent tradeoff. Diesel combustion is spray and mixing controlled providing an intrinsic link between spray and emissions, motivating detailed, fundamental studies on spray, vaporization, mixing, and combustion characteristics under engine relevant conditions. An optical combustion vessel facility has been developed at Michigan Technological University for these studies, with detailed tests and analysis being conducted.

In this combustion vessel facility a preburn procedure for thermodynamic state generation is used, and validated using chemical kinetics modeling both for the MTU vessel, and institutions comprising the Engine Combustion Network international collaborative research initiative. It is shown that minor species produced are representative of modern diesel engines running exhaust gas recirculation and do not impact the autoignition of n-heptane.

Diesel spray testing of a high-pressure (2000 bar) multi-hole injector is undertaken including non-vaporizing, vaporizing, and combusting tests, with sprays characterized using Mie back scatter imaging diagnostics. Liquid phase spray parameter trends agree with literature. Fluctuations in liquid length about a quasi-steady value are quantified, along with plume to plume variations. Hypotheses are developed for their causes including fuel pressure fluctuations, nozzle cavitation, internal injector flow and geometry, chamber temperature gradients, and turbulence. These are explored using a mixing limited vaporization model with an equation of state approach for thermopyhysical properties. This model is also applied to single and multi-component surrogates.

Results include the development of the combustion research facility and validated thermodynamic state generation procedure. The developed equation of state approach provides application for improving surrogate fuels, both single and multi-component, in terms of diesel spray liquid length, with knowledge of only critical fuel properties. Experimental studies are coupled with modeling incorporating improved thermodynamic non-ideal gas and fuel