Sandia Optical Diagnostics Researcher Wins DOE Early Career Award

Sandia Optical Diagnostics Researcher Wins DOE Early Career Award

Sandia Combustion Research Facility (CRF) scientist Christopher Kliewer (in Sandia’s Combustion Chemistry Dept.) won a DOE Office of Science (SC) Early Career Research Program award to develop new optical diagnostics to study interfacial combustion interactions that are major sources of pollution and vehicle inefficiency. The funding opportunity for researchers in universities and DOE national laboratories, now in its sixth year, supports outstanding scientists early in their careers in developing individual research programs and stimulates research careers in the disciplines supported by DOE-SC.

Kliewer’s winning research proposal

“Interactions between Surface Chemistry and Gas-Phase Combustion: New Optical Tools for Probing Flame-Wall Interactions and the Heterogeneous Chemistry of Soot Growth and Oxidation in Flames”

examines the complex surface chemistry involved when gas-phase combustion interacts with solid/liquid interfaces. “I’m interested in interfacial combustion phenomena, like when a flame interacts with a wall. These heterogeneous processes dominate some of the most stubborn and technologically critical problems in combustion, yet they are not well understood,” said Kliewer. “This is due in part to the lack of experimental approaches capable of probing locations very close to an interface, especially in the hostile environment of combustion.”

CRF optical diagnostics researcher Christopher Kliewer has won a Department of Energy Early Career Research award that will fund the development of new tools for studying interfacial combustion interactions. These interactions are major sources of pollution and vehicle inefficiency. (Photo by Dino Vournas)

CRF optical diagnostics researcher Christopher Kliewer has won a Department of Energy Early Career Research award that will fund the development of new tools for studying interfacial combustion interactions. These interactions are major sources of pollution and vehicle inefficiency. (Photo by Dino Vournas)

In engine and power generator combustors, flames interact with metal walls during the combustion process. These interactions produce pollutants, such as unburned hydrocarbon and particulate emissions, and cause aging and failure in engines and generators. Kliewer’s project will develop a new nonlinear optical surface scattering technique to capture the dynamic chemistry of the flame-wall interactions.

This tool will be further developed to correct a deficit in existing experimental techniques for studying soot particles collected from flames. Nearly all of these techniques require ex situ analysis, meaning a sample must be removed from the flame to be studied. The act of removing the soot changes both the sample and the surrounding combustion, limiting the accuracy of results.

Kliewer is one of 44 winners of the Early Career Research Program award. Since joining Sandia in 2009, he has received two distinguished paper awards from the Combustion Institute for articles presented in optical diagnostics at the 2010 and 2014 International Symposium on Combustion. His paper on 2D-CARS, coauthored with Sandia researcher Alexis Bohlin (also in Sandia’s Combustion Chemistry Dept.), was the most read paper in the Journal of Chemical Physics for June 2013. He has a doctorate in physical chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon.

Read the Sandia news release.