CLEMSON — Clemson University assistant professor of mechanical engineering Lin Ma has been awarded a National Science Foundation CAREER Award to study the science of turbulent combustion, the mode of combustion in many practical energy-generating devices. The project focuses on the study of turbulence-chemistry interactions using advanced laser-imaging techniques.

The grant, totaling $400,000, will fund the project, “CAREER: Resolving Turbulence-Chemistry Interaction Using Novel Laser Diagnostics.” The project aims to understand the complicated physics of turbulent combustion, which will contribute to the solution of pressing global issues of energy security and environmental sustainability.

“The complexity of chemical reactions in turbulent flows represents a longstanding scientific problem with significant practical applications, most notably, the burning of fossil fuels with maximum efficiency and minimum pollution,” said Ma. “It is a challenging problem in that neither turbulence nor chemistry is completely understood, yet their interactions cover an incredibly wide spectrum of real-world devices. I believe the research proposed will result in effective tools to resolve such interactions to a new level and the insights we obtain will help improve these devices.”

The devices, said Ma, can range from the simple, such as barbecue grills, to the complicated, such as industry boilers, power plants and aircraft engines.

Ma joined Clemson in 2006. His teaching and research interests are in the general areas of thermal-fluid sciences. He uses advanced laser diagnostics extensively in his research to address both scientific and industrial challenges, ranging from obtaining a fundamental understanding of combustion chemistry to improving the efficiency of engines. Ma received a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Stanford University and a bachelor's degree from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.

The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program offers the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious awards in support of the early career-development activities of teacher-scholars who most effectively integrate research and education in the context of the missions of their organizations. The award description states the activities should build a firm foundation for a lifetime of integrated contributions to research and education.

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