Adaptive Low Emission Microturbine Generator for Renewable Fuels

This page updated April 15, 2010

May 11th
Chair’s Air Pollution Seminar

Tuesday, May 11, 2010
1:30 pm - 3:30 pm, PDT
Sierra Hearing Room, Second Floor
1001 I Street, Sacramento

This event is being Webcast, click here to view
Webcast viewers: Please send your questions during broadcast to:
Presentation is available at this link


Adaptive Low Emission Microturbine
Generator for Renewable Fuels

Vincent McDonell, Ph.D.

Associate Director, Combustion Laboratory
The Henry Samueli School of Engineering
University of California, Irvine

The mission of the Combustion Laboratory at the University of California, Irvine is to promote and support the development and adoption of advanced combustion power and energy systems by providing technological leadership with a vigorous program of research and beta testing, coupled with education and technology transfer to and from the market place.  Microturbine generators (MTGs) represent a currently marketed Distributed Generation technology.  The objective of this Innovative Clean Air Technology research project is to reduce and maintain low emissions while improving the efficiency and reliability of a MTG system designed to burn renewable fuels.  Some renewable fuels, such as methane emissions from landfills, vary in composition and are, as a result, challenging to burn efficiently and cleanly.  Active control provides a method to achieve these goals in both new and retrofit installations by allowing the system to monitor the combustion process and adapt to systematic and environmental changes.

This project developed and tested a control system capable of modulating air flow to each injector of a MTG.  Information about the state of the combustion is supplied by various sensors incorporated into the injector.  Data from the reaction are obtained in the form of both light emission and electrical current.  These data, which correlate with CO and NOx emissions levels, are then analyzed.  Once emissions levels are determined, the active control system adjusts the variable geometry injector to maintain minimum emissions as load and/or fuel composition varies.  This seminar will provide the background, development, and testing status of a MTG with active control for efficiently burning renewable fuels.

Vincent McDonell, Ph.D., is the Associate Director of the Combustion Laboratory at the University of California, Irvine. Dr. McDonell is a senior research scientist at the lab and an adjunct professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in The Henry Samueli School of Engineering at UC Irvine.  Professor McDonell has more than 20 years experience in the design, operation, and characterization of continuous combustion and spray systems.  Dr. McDonell's current research focuses on the study of auto-ignition, flashback and emissions, and the development of fuel injection and combustion systems for fuel flexible low emissions gas turbines.  In addition, in his role as co-director of the Pacific Region Clean Energy Application Center, he connects the technology developments to deployment and demonstration of various types of ultra low emissions distributed generation/combined cooling and heating systems.  Dr. McDonell currently serves on the board of directors for the Western States Section of the Combustion Institute as well as the Institute for Liquid Atomization and Spray Systems organization in the Americas.  He is also active in the American Society of Mechanical Engineering’s International Gas Turbine Institute.  Dr. McDonell received a doctorate in mechanical engineering from UC Irvine in 1990.

For information on this seminar please contact:
Leon Dolislager, Ph.D. at (916) 323-1533 or send email to:

For information on this Series please contact:
Peter Mathews at (916) 323-8711 or send email to:

For a complete listing of the ARB Chairman's Series and the related documentation for
each one of the series
please check this page