Soot-based Global Pathway Analysis: Soot formation and evolution at elevated pressures in co-flow diffusion flames

Dezhi Zhou, Suo Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


One of the major concerns in high pressure combustion is its high soot yield. An exact and comprehensive mechanism behind this phenomenon, from a chemical kinetics perspective, is still elusive. In this study, a series of pressurized (1–16 atm) co-flow ethylene diffusion sooting flames are simulated with detailed finite-rate chemistry and molecular transport. The experimental maximum soot volume fraction and its scaling law with pressure are well reproduced by the simulations. To extract kinetic information from the complex sooting reacting system, a Soot-based Global Pathway Analysis (SGPA) method is developed to identify the dominant Global Pathways (GPs) from fuel to soot by considering carbon element flux from gaseous species to soot. Using SGPA, the dominance and sensitivity of soot chemical pathways at elevated pressures are revealed. It is found that increasing pressure shifts the first ring Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH) formation from C3H3 recombination to reactions involving C2H2. At 1 atm, the production of C2H2 for surface growth is purely controlled by the H-abstraction of C2H4 and C2H3. In contrast, at elevated pressures, the production of C2H2 for surface growth is also influenced by many other reactions including some third body reactions. The SGPA method reveals that the mismatch of predicted PAH with the experimental data at 12 atm is majorly caused by the rate coefficient uncertainty of the reaction C2H2 + A1CH2 = C9H8 + H. Based on the analysis by SGPA, the mechanism reduction based on Directed Relation Graph with Error Propagation (DRGEP) with A2 and C2H2 as the target species deleted significant species such as C9H8, C9H7, incurring inaccurate soot field prediction. It is also found that the combined dominance of GPs with heavier PAH species (A4-A7) is even greater than the most dominant GP at the flame wing regions, indicating that heavier PAH species play critical roles for soot nucleation and condensation, especially at the flame wing regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-270
Number of pages16
JournalCombustion and Flame
StatePublished - May 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
S. Yang gratefully acknowledges the faculty start-up funding from the University of Minnesota and the grant support from NSF CBET 2038173. The authors gratefully acknowledge Prof. Graham V. Candler and the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute (MSI) for the computational resources. The helpful discussions with Dr. Junjun Guo are very much appreciated.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Combustion Institute


  • Chemical kinetics
  • Elevated pressure
  • Soot
  • Soot-based Global Pathway Analysis (SGPA)


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