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Laboratory Practicum In Combustion

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Developments in the Energy Laboratories

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1001.1 - 12.1001.16



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Paper Authors


David Blekhman California State University Los Angeles

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David Blekhman is an Assistant Professor at Grand Valley State University. He holds M.S. in Thermal Physics from St. Petersburg State Technical University, Russia and a Ph. D. in Mechanical Engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Since joining GVSU, he has taught courses in the Mechanics and Thermal-Fluids sequences. He has also focused on developing courses in Combustion and Alternative Energy.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Laboratory Practicum in Combustion

Abstract The textbooks on Combustion identify advanced undergraduate or graduate students as their target audience due to the high complexity of the course material. In most engineering programs, a Combustion course is a rare offering; a laboratory practicum is even less common, and a few experiments are performed. Developing a laboratory component for a Combustion course presents a challenging task where the theory quickly becomes intricate and the equipment expensive. In addition, literature about the Combustion laboratory practicum is scarce. The Grand Valley State University’s School of Engineering emphasizes the importance of offering engineering courses with laboratory exercises as a tool for helping students to connect theory and practice. The purpose of this paper is to share our experiences of offering a laboratory-based Combustion course and to encourage a discussion among instructors on this topic. The following are experiments discussed in the paper:

• Calorimetry, based on a comparison of petro- and biodiesel; • Internal-combustion engine performance, based on small- and large-engine test cells; • Exhaust analysis, which compares engines with and without catalytic aftertreatment; • Laminar and diffusion flames, flame speed of laminar stoichiometric flames, liftoff, blow-out, diffusion flame length, all based on a propane-fueled Bunsen burner; • Droplet evaporation, based on a comparison of evaporative rates of petro- and biodiesel; • Proximate analysis of coal, based on western and eastern coals.

At the end of the Combustion course, students provided their feedback on how well each experiment related to the course material. Their responses were influenced by the availability and quality of manuals, the difficulty of data reduction, and the level of participation in the experiment.

Introduction “We use it in cooking our food, warming our homes, driving our automobiles; and industry uses it in manufacturing hundreds of articles. In fact, without combustion the world we live in would be a very cold one and life as we know it would probably not exist at all,” wrote John Sellers1 in 1927. These words will be as relevant in twenty years and beyond as they were eighty years ago. To be specific, fossil fuel combustion accounts for more than 70% of energy production in the United States and virtually all transportation. In addition, growing demands for energy, rising fuel prices, limited fuel supply and dire environmental consequences command more efficient and cleaner combustion technologies. Engineers well versed in the topic will be needed to address this societal need. However, relatively few programs offer a Combustion course at the undergraduate level; even fewer integrate a laboratory into the course. The School of Engineering at Grand valley State University emphasizes a practical, hands-on approach to education and integrates a laboratory practicum into a large number of its courses. It has supported the offering of a Combustion Applications course with a concurrent development of a Combustion laboratory. The laboratory is housed in the Keller laboratory building in an 875 ft2 room equipped with exhaust and louver systems for operating engines indoor. Finding

Blekhman, D. (2007, June), Laboratory Practicum In Combustion Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1941

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