John Kramlich

Mechanical Engineering

Associate Chair for Academics, Mechanical Engineering


Professor Kramlich's principal technical interests involve systems that convert raw energy resources (sun, wind, fuels) into useful energy (electricity and mechanical power). His main focus areas are:

  • Combustion, with an emphasis on pollutant formation and control.
  • The numerical and theoretical analysis of turbulent reacting flows involving combustion.
  • Solid oxide fuel cell design and performance analysis.

After completing his Ph.D. in 1980 Dr. Kramlich spent twelve years with Energy and Environmental Research Corporation (EER) of Irvine, California. During that time he was involved in basic contract research directed at the development of pollution reduction techniques for large fossil fuel-fired energy systems. He also worked on a number of consulting projects involving energy systems at power plants, oil refineries, and biomass conversion plants. He joined the University at the start of 1992 (EER was subsequently purchased by General Electric, principally to obtain one of the pollution control technologies developed by in-house research).


  • Ph.D., Washington State University, 1980

Research Statement

Dr. Kramlich's research interests since joining the University, both past and current, include:

  • Mechanisms of resperable ash generation from coal and biomass fuels. This focuses on the vaporization of minerals during combustion, followed by their condensation into submicron aerosol fumes (supported by the U.S. Department of Energy and Weyerhaeuser).
  • Development of an acoustically-enhanced afterburner for shipboard incineration applications. The Navy is interested in incinerating waste as a means of avoiding overboard dumping. The challenge is to reduce the size and weight of the afterburner units to a level compatible with ship operations. The approach is to acoustically excite the mixing between the gasified waste and the air to enhance mixing. We were one member of a large team working on the problem, with our focus being the identification of mechanisms that limit organic burnout performance. (Supported by the Office of Naval Research).
  • Development of a turbulence/chemistry performance model for natural gas reburning. Reburning is a NOx control strategy in which large jets of natural gas are injected into the postflame region of a boiler to effect a conversion of NOx to N2. The performance of the process is known to be influenced by the jet dynamics (jet diameter, velocity, spacing). The development of models that couple the turbulent mixing together with the chemistry is needed to understand this problem and rationalize the design of reburning installations (supported by the Gas Research Institute).
  • Mercury oxidation in fossil-fueled energy systems (current project). The EPA has recently given notice that mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants will be regulated. Mercury is inherent in coal, and it is all released during combustion. The ability to capture mercury depends on whether it is in the elemental form (difficult to capture) or the divalent oxidized form (much easier to capture). Various power plants show wide ranges in the split between the elemental and oxidized forms, and the mechanisms governing the oxidation were unknown. Our work focused on the identification of the mechanisms of oxidation, and our current work involves developing low-cost, low-impact means of promoting oxidation (previously supported by the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, with current support is by the U.S. Department of Energy).
  • Flame liftoff and stability in microgravity environments (current project, joint with Profs. Riley and Kos├íly). Experiments have shown that jet flame stability behavior changes with the gravitational constant (g), and that low-g flames are more stable than flames under normal gravity. This project makes use of computational fluid dynamics coupled with combustion chemistry to investigate this phenomena, which is of importance in spacecraft fire safety (supported by NASA).
  • Toxic metal release from ceramics firing (current project). The glazes commonly used in decorative ceramics contain mixtures of metal oxides that are designed to produce specific colors and other surface effects. During firing a fraction of these metals vaporize and produce resperable aerosol. The amount released depends on temperature, stoichiometry, and the complex interactions occurring within the glaze (e.g., eutectic formation, vapor pressure depression, formation of non-volatile complexes). This project focuses on understanding the operative mechanism in this new area.
  • Solid oxide fuel cell performance (current project). This project involves the development of a performance model of the DOE's concept for a high-efficiency, adiabatic solid oxide fuel cell. This is designed to act as a topping cycle in a combined cycle system, with expected electrical generation efficiencies (based on lower heating value) in excess of 80%).
  • Application of the Conditional Moment Closure (CMC) model to premixed combustion. The CMC model is a method of linking turbulent fluid dynamics calculations with detailed combustion chemistry. The method has had success in flames where the fuel and are initially not mixed, and we are adapting it to premixed systems such as would be found in modern gas turbine combustors. It allows the inclusion of a level of detail in the chemistry not possible with other models.

Select publications

  1. Cha, C. M., and J. C. Kramlich: Modeling finite-rate mixing effects in reburning using a simple mixing model. Combustion and Flame 122, 151-164 (2000).
  2. Sliger, R. N., J. C. Kramlich, AND N. M. Marinov: Towards the development of a chemical kinetic model for the homogeneous oxidation of mercury by chlorine species. Fuel Processing Technology 65, 423-438 (2000).
  3. Safoutin, M. J., C. J. Atman, R. Adams, T. Rutar, J. C. Kramlich, and J. L. Fridley: A design attribute framework for course planning and learning assessment. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Education 43, 188-199 (2000).
  4. Rutar, T., P. C. Malte, and J. C. Kramlich: Investigation of NOx and CO formation in lean-premixed, methane/air, high-intensity, confined flames at elevated pressures. Proceedings of the Combustion Institute 28, 2435-2441 (2000).
  5. Bond, T. C., D. S. Covert, J. C. Kramlich, T. V. Larson, and R. J. Charlson: Primary particle emissions from residential coal burning: optical properties and size distributions. Journal of Geophysical Research, (2001).