Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

First Advisor

Peter E. Hamlington

Second Advisor

Gregory B. Rieker

Third Advisor

Nicole Labbe


During the past four years, a gift from 3M has funded a project that is at the intersection of academia and industry at the University of Colorado, Boulder (CU). The overall objective of this joint computational and experimental effort is to explore optimization and improvement of burner/chilled-roll systems for polymer film flame treatments. Using the computational and experimental tools developed in this project, existing treatment processes will be improved and new avenues of technology innovation will be explored.

In this thesis, industry-relevant heat treatment processes with catalytic and ribbon burners are studied using large eddy simulations (LES). The simulations are modeled in an open-source CFD package, OpenFOAM. Different approaches are used to model chemistry in the simulations, from a single-step global mechanism to a detailed 41-step mechanism for methane-air mixture.

The combustion of methane and boundary conditions are modeled to match the experimental setup at CU. Experimental data from wavelength modulation spectroscopy are used to estimate computational parameters and test the hypothesis of additional combustion in the catalytic burner to check whether the catalyst is working as expected. For the ribbon burner, there is some uncertainty about the initial conditions such as the inlet jet velocity and inlet temperature. In order to estimate those parameters, an inverse modeling approach is used in a gradient-based optimization study. Additional combustion is found to occur above the catalytic burner and initial prarmeters are estimated for the ribbon burner. This work will provide a toolkit for researchers at 3M to produce high fidelity simulations for their heat treatment processes.