January 30, 2009

Michelle Somers Walker, a PhD student in Judy Wornat’s research group in the Gordon A. & Mary Cain Department of Chemical Engineering has been awarded a 2008 Coates Research Award by the LSU Graduate School. Walker’s proposed research will focus on studying a component of jet fuel, and studying its reaction pathway to a supercritical state.

The Coates Research Award is a two-year award of $5,000 per year, with second-year funding contingent upon successful progress in the student’s doctoral program. Only four of these awards can be active at any one time. This award is funded by the Charles E. Coates Memorial Fund, which was established to support promising doctoral research by superior graduate students in the disciplines of chemical engineering, chemistry, or physics. Other awards given by the Coates Memorial Fund include: outstanding dissertation award, conference travel award, and research travel grant.

The following is Walker’s proposal, which outlines her doctoral research:“Hypersonic jet aircraft is currently under development by the U.S. Air Force. This high-speed aircraft will require fuels to absorb excess heat produced by the engine, acting as a coolant and being preheated prior to combustion. Fuels used in this capacity are exposed to increased temperatures and pressures, promoting the fuel to a supercritical state. The increased temperatures and pressures also cause pyrolysis reactions, forming polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and eventually solid deposits. The objective of this research is to use a model fuel, a single component of jet fuel, to study its reaction pathway in the supercritical state and determine the temperatures and pressures which form PAH and solid deposits. The model fuel used in this study is 1-methylnaphthalene, a 2-ring aromatic component of jet fuel. The identification of PAH is performed through the utilization of high-pressure liquid chromatography with diode-array ultraviolet-visible absorbance and mass spectrometric detection (HPLC/UV/MS) and gas chromatography with mass spectrometric and flame-ionization detection analysis. HPLC/UV/MS is an isomer-specific technique which allows the unequivocal identification of PAH products by comparing product spectra with those of reference standards.”

Article by Melanie McCandless, Academic Area Coordinator, LSU College of Engineering, 225-578-3242, mmonce@lsu.edu


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • Delicious
  • Reddit