Investigation of ignition delay times of conventional (JP-8) and synthetic (S-8) jet fuels a shock tube study

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.S. in Mechanical Engineering


Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Advisor: Sukh S. Sidhu


The global depletion of petroleum-based fuels has led the world to more closely examine alternate fuels. Therefore, alternate fuels produced from feedstocks such as coal, soybeans, palm oil or switch grass through methods such as coal liquefaction, biomass gasification, and Fischer-Tropsch synthesis have been tested. Among these techniques, fuels generated using Fischer-Tropsch technologies are of interest because they produce clean burning hydrocarbons similar to those found in commercial fuels. Therefore, in this study the Fischer-Tropsch derived S-8 fuel was evaluated as a drop-in replacement for the jet fuel JP-8. The jet fuel JP-8 is comprised of n-, iso- and cyclo- alkanes as well as aromatics while the S-8 fuel is primarily comprised of n- and iso- alkanes. The composition of the fuel affects its ignition characteristics chemically and physically by either advancement or delay of time to ignition. Since this study focused on the chemical effects, the fuels were completely pre-vaporized and pre-mixed. A high pressure, high temperature heated single pulse shock tube was used for this study. The shock tube is an established experimental tool used to obtain ignition delay data behind reflected shock waves under operating conditions relevant to modern engines. The experiments were conducted over a temperature range of 1000-1600 K, a pressure of 19±2 atm, equivalence ratios of 0.5, 1 and 3, within a dwell time of 7.6±0.2 ms and an argon dilution of 93% (v/v). Ignition delay times were measured using the signal from the pressure transducer on the end plate with guidance from the optical diagnostic signal. Along with JP-8 and S-8, the ignition delay of n-heptane was also studied. N-heptane was chosen to represent the n-alkanes in the fuels for this study since it was present in both fuels and also to prove the fact that the n-alkanes were rate controlling. The results indicate that both S-8 and JP-8 fuels have similar ignition delays at corresponding equivalence ratios. The fuel-rich mixtures ignited faster at lower temperatures (<1150 K) and the fuel-lean mixtures ignited faster at higher temperatures (>1150 K). In the transition period between lower to higher temperatures (~1100-1200 K), the equivalence ratio had no significant effect on the ignition delay time. The results also show that the ignition delay time measurements of S-8 and JP-8 fuels are similar to the ignition delay of n-heptane at the equivalence ratio of Φ=0.5 and thereby indicate that the n-alkanes present in these fuels controlled the ignition under these conditions. The ignition delay results of S-8 and JP-8 at Φ=3.0 from this study were also compared to prior work (Kahandawala et al., 2008) on 2-methylheptane and n-heptane/toluene (80/20 liquid vol.%), respectively and found to be indistinguishable. This data serves to extend the gas phase ignition delay database for both JP-8 and S-8 and is the first known data taken for both these fuels at higher temperatures (>1000 K) for an equivalence ratio of 3.0 with argon as the diluent gas.


Spark ignition engines Alternative fuels Testing, Jet planes Ignition Testing, Jet planes Testing, Synthetic fuels Analysis, Fuel Combustion Testing

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