Development of skeletal kinetics mechanisms for plasma-assisted combustion via principal component analysis

Aurélie Bellemans, Nicholas Deak, Fabrizio Bisetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


The positive effect of plasma discharges on ignition and flame stability motivates the development of detailed kinetic mechanisms for high-fidelity simulations of plasma-assisted combustion. Because of their hierarchical nature, combustion processes require a large number of chemical species and pathways to describe hydrocarbon oxidation. In order to simulate kinetic enhancement by non-thermal electrons, additional species and processes are included, which model the ionization and excitation of neutral molecules. From a practical perspective, integrating large kinetics mechanisms is computationally burdensome due to the temporal stiffness of the nonlinear combustion dynamics and the memory requirements associated with the high number of species. In order to alleviate computational costs, a dimensionality reduction approach is proposed based on principal component analysis. The methodology is demonstrated on a detailed kinetics mechanism for plasma-assisted combustion excited by a nanosecond pulse discharge. Data are collected from a zero-dimensional two-temperature reactor model, whereby a nanosecond pulse generates a population of excited-state molecules and radicals in argon and air mixtures with hydrocarbon fuels. The data from the detailed mechanism are used to describe the evolution of the plasma and mixture based on principal components. Several skeletal mechanisms consisting of a much smaller number of species are assembled and their accuracy is compared against the detailed one. The performance of selected skeletal mechanisms is found satisfactory for the simulation of plasma-assisted ignition in unsteady, three-dimensional reactive flows.

Original languageEnglish
Article number025020
JournalPlasma Sources Science and Technology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2020


  • kinetics reduction
  • nanosecond pulse discharges
  • plasma-assisted combustion
  • principal component analysis

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