Date of Award

Fall 2021

Document Type

Open Access Thesis


Computer Science and Engineering

First Advisor

Sang Hee Won


The dawn of a new Space Age is upon us; Microgravity combustion of hydrocarbon fuels is a popular method of research and characterization. This allows for a one-dimensional analysis by suppressing the buoyancy forces produced by gravity and the large temperature differential between the flame boundary and the surrounding air. The current testing methods are expensive and require extensive preparation on the researchers behalf. There is a need to investigate an alternative method that is inexpensive, repeatable, and comparable to the other approaches that coincides with the literature.

A low-cost converging-channel drop tower was designed and fabricated for sphero-symmetric single droplet combustion of n-alkane fuels to be comparable to that in the literature. A piezoelectric actuated droplet generator was created to control droplet size as they fell through a coiled Nickel-Chromium resistance wire to implement combustion. A blower style fan was implemented to draw surrounding air through the converging-channel which causes said air to accelerate at the same rate as the droplet falls, counteracting the strong velocity field caused by the large temperature differential and the resultant density gradient.

With having the ability to simulate microgravity combustion for 0.46 seconds, and investigation into the preferential vaporization potential of binary fuel mixtures in a one-dimensional environment. Mole fractions of 75/25 for iso-cetane/n-alkanes were tested and analyzed using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The n-alkanes used were n-Hexane, n-Heptane, n-Octane, n-Decane, n-Dodecane for their increasing molecular weight and vapor pressures. Preferential vaporization was more apparent in the lighter alkane mixtures while less apparent as the molecular weight increas