Quantitative Analysis of in Situ Optical Diagnostics for Inferring Particle/Aggregate Parameters in Flames: Implications for Soot Surface Growth and Total Emissivity


An in situ particulate diagnostic/analysis technique is outlined based on the Rayleigh-Debye-Gans polydisperse fractal aggregate (RDG/PFA) scattering interpretation of absolute angular light scattering and extinction measurements. Using proper particle refractive index, the proposed data analysis method can quantitatively yield all aggregate parameters (particle volume fraction, fv, fractal dimension, Df, primary particle diameter, dp, particle number density, np, and aggregate size distribution, pdf(N)) without any prior knowledge about the particle-laden environment. The present optical diagnostic/interpretation technique was applied to two different soot-containing laminar and turbulent ethylene/air nonpremixed flames in order to assess its reliability. The aggregate interpretation of optical measurements yielded Df, dp, and pdf(N) that are in excellent agreement with ex situ thermophoretic sampling/transmission electron microscope (TS/TEM) observations within experimental uncertainties. However, volume-equivalent single particle models (Rayleigh/Mie) overestimated dp by about a factor of 3, causing an order of magnitude underestimation in np. Consequently, soot surface areas and growth rates were in error by a factor of 3, emphasizing that aggregation effects need to be taken into account when using optical diagnostics for a reliable understanding of soot formation/evolution mechanism in flames. The results also indicated that total soot emissivities were generally underestimated using Rayleigh analysis (up to 50%), mainly due to the uncertainties in soot refractive indices at infrared wavelengths. This suggests that aggregate considerations may not be essential for reasonable radiation heat transfer predictions from luminous flames because of fortuitous error cancellation, resulting in typically a 10 to 30% net effect.


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 1997 Elsevier, All rights reserved.