Virtually all the energy we derive from fossil fuels is obtained through some form of combustion. Any technical advance that can result in more efficient combustion systems without sacrificing environmental quality would therefore be a major contribution to energy conservation. For example, every one‐percent increase in auto engine combustion efficiency saves about 14.5 million barrels of oil per year, gaining the US over 150 million dollars per year in balance of payments. Although research in specific technological areas is usually difficult to justify from economic arguments, this is not the case for combustion research, as these figures show. The return on the investment pays for combustion research many times over. In addition, improved control of combustion processes should result in lower pollutant emissions and thereby reduce such hidden costs of burning fossil fuels as exhaust‐gas cleanup and damages to health and environment. However, combustion devices, like most other engineering systems, face performance limitations of an inherently scientific nature.
Physics in combustion research
Danny Hartley, Donald Hardesty, Marshall Lapp; Physics in combustion research. Physics Today 1 December 1975; 28 (12): 36–47. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.3069239
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