Combustion and Propulsion

Why combustion and propulsion?

Propulsion encompasses all aerospace systems generating thrust. Depending on the flight environment and the performance objectives, the range of technologies employed is vast. Orbital flight often relies on electric propulsion, where thrusters leverage the momentum of ionized gases accelerated in electromagnetic fields to control spacecrafts’ trajectories. Rocket engines and gas turbines, on the other hand, rely on the reactions between fuel and oxidizer molecules (combustion), and the heat it produces to expand the exhaust gases and ultimately generate thrust. Regardless of whether the aircraft cruises at subsonic, supersonic or hypersonic speeds, the air surrounding it supplies the oxidizer. The tremendous thrust levels required to lift rockets off the ground however, together with the absence of an atmosphere in space, means that rockets have to carry both fuel of oxidizer, which determines in particular the state and composition of the fuel source.

What is going on in combustion and propulsion research at Illinois?

The efforts of the scientists at Illinois aim at improving the performances of existing propulsion devices, and to propose innovative solutions to outstanding issues. This includes addressing ever more stringent regulations on pollutant emissions (soot, carbon dioxide) by understanding the multi-physics of combustion (interactions between chemistry, transport, and acoustics, both experimentally and computationally), exploring new control strategies (plasmas), combustion associated with supersonic propulsion systems, ignition and understanding the thermo-acoustic instabilities combustion systems are prone to when operated under leaner conditions. Finally, improving electric thrusters technology is also central to both efficiency and the longevity of satellites.


Who are the faculty members in the area?


Courses in this Area

AE 202: Aerospace Flight Mechanics

ME 404: Intermediate Thermodynamics

AE 433: Aerospace Propulsion

AE 434: Rocket Propulsion

AE 435: Electric Propulsion

AE 460: Aerodynamics & Propulsion Lab

AE 498UAV: Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles

AE 564: Advanced Aero Propulsion Lab

AE 538/ME 501: Combustion Fundamentals