Host department: Mechanical Engineering

Time slot: PM

Who can study this module: Open to Yr4 from Materials and Chemical Engineering


FHEQ Level: 7

How to apply: Via DSS

August resit opportunity: No

Approximate places available to students from other departments: 30

Historic number of applications from students of other departments: 10

Criteria used to select students: First come, first assigned a place if module is oversubscribed


Module aims

The overall aim of the course is to provide an understanding of the technological challenges faced by designers of propulsion and energy generating devices in an era increasingly dominated by energy efficiency considerations and regulations aimed at ensuring low overall emissions. The course builds on material taught in previous years and, in particular, extends the knowledge imparted in the third year Thermodynamics and Energy and Fluid Mechanics courses to build a basis for an understanding of current and future primary issues.

ECTS units:  7   
Contributing to Course Elements: 7 to ME4-mLCTVS Electives

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing this module, students will be able to:

  • Discuss issues and trends relating to the global utilisation of fossil fuels, and associated pollutants and particulates
  • Explain the mechanisms and implications of pollution dependence on oxidation conditions, distinguishing reaction classes and effects of pressure and temperature
  • Discuss present and future combustion technology used in aero, automotive and other powerplant, and in power generation
  • Analyse advanced combustion problems using differential control volume analysis, dimensionless groups and reaction kinetics

Module syllabus

The course covers the global utilisation of fossil fuels and issues relating to primary pollutants. The latter are divided into two groups.  The first is concerned with overall energy efficiency (low CO2 emissions) and the second group with pollutants that present more immediate health and environmental problems such as oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and particulates.

An introduction to combustion chemistry leads to an understanding of the actual oxidation paths of different types of practical fuels and the formation paths of oxides of nitrogen and micro/nano-scale particulates are introduced. It is shown how pollutant emissions are affected by changes in oxidation conditions and the topic is related to the design of practical devices. Different types of reaction classes and effects of pressure and temperature on product distributions are discussed.

Differential control volume analysis is used to derive the multi-dimensional conservation equations for chemical species. The importance of the relative roles of diffusion and thermal conductivity in laminar flames is discussed along with the role of differential diffusion.

The conservation equations for the oxidation of single particles (droplets) of solid (liquid) fuels. Limiting cases and the role of sprays in the case of liquids. Particular difficulties with pollutant emissions arising from utilisation of solid fuels such as coal and some liquids. Issues with the combustion of waste and biomass.

Turbulence and the characteristics of interactions between chemistry and velocity/scalar fluctuations. Limiting cases of fast and slow chemistry. The chemical equilibrium and laminar flamelet approximations. The use presumed probability density function approaches. Key terms such as those relating to pressure gradients, in premixed turbulent combustion.

The different types of combustion modes used in practical devices such as aero and automotive power plants. Trends in technologies for power generation. Technology limitations and possible future developments.

Teaching methods

  • Duration: Spring term
  • Lecture/Study groups: The 20 lecture sessions feature 16 lectures and 4 tutorials. The lectures will be supplemented by printed copies of all overhead slides presented. It is strongly encouraged that these notes and lectures are supplemented by the reading of complementary material from books. The lectures are divided into four work packages:
    • The chemistry of combustion and how pollutants really are formed
    • The physics and chemistry of laminar flames and related practical applications
    • The utilisation of solid and liquid fuels
    • The combustion in turbulent flow fields.

Summary of student timetabled hours











Expected private study time

4-5 h per week (plus revision time)


Written examination

Date (approx.)

Max. mark

Pass mark

Combustion (3h)

This is a CLOSED BOOK Examination

April/ May




Calculations of chemical kinetics and flame temperatures



Total   200 n/a

Module leaders

Professor Guillermo Rein