Michael C. Drake - Abstract for "What Physicists Do"
Powertrain Systems Research Laboratory
General Motors Research and Development
Advanced Gasoline Engine Development at General Motors using Optical Diagnostics and Numerical Modeling: An Example of Physics in Industry
The automobile has been recognized as the single most important engineering achievement of the 20th century by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
Approximately 60 million new personal automobiles and light trucks are sold each year worldwide, and nearly all are powered by internal-combustion (IC) engines burning mainly gasoline. The early 21st century will be a time of great change for the automobile industry. Petroleum fuel prices are rising, emissions regulations are tightening, interest in renewable alternative fuels is growing, and global warming and CO2 emissions concerns are increasing.
This talk focuses on the research I do - applying physics and chemistry to advanced gasoline engine development at General Motors. I use high speed (<60,000 frame/sec) laser imaging and three-dimensional computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling to understand and control processes inside engines. Using these tools, industrial scientists and engineers will have a significant influence on the design and development of fuel-efficient, low-emissions engines of the future.