In this 13-part series of monthly articles, The Combustion Institute recognizes the 2019 Distinguished Papers selected from among the scientific papers presented during the 37th International Symposium on Combustion. Congratulations to N. Hansen, X. He, R. Griggs, and K. Moshammer for winning the DPA in the Gas-Phase Kinetics colloquium.

Their authoritative paper, Knowledge generation through data research: New validation targets for the refinement of kinetic mechanisms, has significantly improved the understanding of combustion chemistry on a fundamental, molecule-specific level by showing correlations among independently collected flame data and that these correlations can be used to define new quantities useful for experiment and model development. Their new data-based approach which includes the interpretation of an ensemble of data, demonstrates that new knowledge can be generated that is relevant for chemical kinetic modeling.

Previous research in this area generally used a unique set of experimental data to validate chemical kinetic mechanisms for individual fuels. Hansen, He, Griggs, and Moshammer hypothesized that additional information in the form of previously unexplored validation targets could be found using a larger data ensemble. As a result of their research, the modeling community has new targets they can use to validate chemically detailed mechanisms with better predictive capabilities. These validation targets, which are hidden in the individual flame structure, are identifiable when analyzing a large set of data of the chemical structures of low-pressure flames. In addition, experimentalists can benefit by checking their data for consistency before publication. The authors’ work also provides new research directions as it establishes the foundation for data science approaches that can be used in combustion science to extract additional information and can lead to better targeted experiments.

Following the 2016 “Flame Chemistry Workshop” in Seoul, South Korea, Hansen and Moshammer began fundamental discussions about the opportunities to pursue their theory. In 2017, Rachel Griggs joined Hansen at Sandia National Laboratories as a summer intern at the Combustion Research Facility. During her internship tenure, Griggs assembled a database containing more than 30,000 data points on low-pressure premixed flame data. The work was completed at the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) in Germany, where Moshammer and Xiaoyu He developed the analytical tools to efficiently search for correlations among the data points. The researchers hope their results will eventually lead to better designs of combustion devices with improved efficiency, ignition and/or emission characteristics.

Over 1,600 papers were submitted to the 37th Symposium in 13 combustion science colloquia. Those papers were categorized by teams of colloquium coordinators and co-chairs, and then distributed to approximately 1,000 scientific reviewers. One paper in each discipline was awarded the recognition of Distinguished Paper.

The 13 Distinguished Papers undergo committee review for consideration to receive the Silver Combustion Medal that will be awarded during the 38th International Symposium in Adelaide, Australia. A paper selected for this honor exemplifies quality, achievement, and significance to advance a field of combustion science. Distinguished papers are selected biennially from among the scientific papers presented during the International Symposium on Combustion and accepted for publication in the Proceedings of The Combustion Institute.