Combustion and microexplosion of collision-merged methanol/alkane droplets

C. H. Wang, S. Y. Fu, L. J. Kung, C. K. Law

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


The combustion characteristics of freely falling droplets, individually generated by the merging of colliding methanol and alkane droplets, were studied and compared with those for pure methanol and alkanes. An air bubble was trapped at the colliding interfaces where they were adhered, with the trapping favored for head-on or near head-on collision orientations. The trapped air bubble ostensibly induced heterogeneous nucleation of the methanol, being facilitated by the relatively low limit of superheat of methanol. Consequently, the droplet exploded almost immediately upon ignition, leading to an extremely short overall lifetime. For collision orientations that were more off-centered, bubble trapping and heterogeneous nucleation were not favored. However, delayed, albeit strong, microexplosion occurred through homogeneous nucleation of methanol at the contacting interface. Microexplosion was facilitated for high-boiling-point alkanes such as hexadecane and tetradecane. The co-vaporization of methanol and alkane from their respective hemispherical segments constituting the adhered droplet also led to flame colors that were more bluish than yellowish, indicating the reduction of soot from alkane burning in the presence of methanol vapor. In light of the difficulty of forming stable methanol/oil emulsions, the potential of separate injection of oil and methanol in opposed jet arrangement, in direct-injection engines to facilitate collision, was suggested. This is an abstract of a paper presented at the 30th International Symposium on Combustion (Chicago, IL 7/25-30/2004).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1965-1972
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the Combustion Institute
Volume30 II
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2005
Event30th International Symposium on Combustion - Chicago, IL, United States
Duration: Jul 25 2004Jul 30 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


  • Droplet collision
  • Droplet combustion
  • Methanol combustion


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