A predictive design capability is essential in optimizing the performance of energy devices to achieve high efficiency and low emissions. Such designs rely on a number of physical models, of which chemical kinetics plays a very critical role. The chemical kinetic mechanism of a fuel relies on a database of experimental values over a range of temperatures and pressures. These data include ignition delay time, fuel reactivity, elementary reaction rates, and species time-history profiles.
Shock tubes and Rapid Compression Machines (RCM) can provide well-defined temperatures and pressures for kinetics investigations that cover broad regimes of engineering and scientific interest. They can be used to achieve temperatures of 500-5000 K and pressures from sub-atmospheric to 500 atm. Chemical kinetics measurements performed behind reflected shock waves have near-instantaneous heating times, spatially uniform mixtures, and occur in near-stationary flows.