Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Wang, Chuji.

Committee Member

Pierce, Donna M.

Committee Member

Srinivasan, Kalyan K.

Committee Member

Krishnan, Sundar R.

Committee Member

Arnoldus, Hendrik F.

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Applied Physics

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


James Worth Bagley College of Engineering


Applied Physics Program


Plasmas when coupled to the oxidation process of various fuels have been shown to influence the process positively by improving upon flameholding, reduction in ignition delay time, reduced pollutant emission, etc. Despite all this positive effects being known to the science community, the mechanisms through which the plasmas effects all these enhancements are poorly understood. This is often due to the absence of accurate experimental data to validate theoretical mechanisms and the availability of a myriad sources of plasmas having different chemistries. The goal of this thesis is to further narrow the knowledge gap in the understanding of plasma assisted combustion by using a nonthermal microwave plasma to investigate the mechanism through which it enhances the oxidation of several fuel/oxidant combinations. The enhancement metrics used in this studies are minimum ignition energy, flameholding and rotational temperature. A suite of noninvasive optical diagnostics techniques (camera for visual imaging, optical emission spectroscopy and cavity ringdown spectroscopy) are employed to probe the plasma assisted combustion flame and identify the species, obtain rotational temperatures, and identify pathways through which the microwave plasma enhances the combustion process. Initially, the effect of a microwave plasma on the ignition and flameholding of an ethylene/air mixture was investigated. Then, based on observations from that study and previous studies, a novel plasma assisted combustion platform was designed capable of discriminating between the various pathways through which the plasma enhances the combustion of a fuel/air mixture. Using the designed platform, a comparative study was carried out on the roles played by the plasma activated fuel vs. plasma activated oxidizer stream. The roles played by the plasma activated fuel or air molecules in the ignition of the fuel/air mixture was investigated. Data from this study led to the suggestion that there exist a minimum required plasma generated radical pool for ignition to occur with reactive oxygen and nitrogen playing a more important role in the ignition and flameholding effects. Ground state OH(X) number densities were also measured for the first time in the hybrid ignition zone of a plasma assisted combustion reactor using cavity ringdown spectroscopy.