Narrator: This is Science Today. For years, scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory working in the field of combustion fluid mechanics had been using a tool called low swirl burn to study flame turbulence in action. Senior scientist Robert Cheng explains that it was solely used in the lab since the flame did not grow much in size as they increased heat and velocity, and it supported a very wide range of operating conditions.
Cheng: I really never thought about using this burner for practical applications because we are quite satisfied using it with research. The idea came to me at a meeting when I was listening to my colleagues talking about low-emissions burners and it suddenly occurred to me that I was actually running a lot of the flames at the conditions where there's a lot of low emissions.
Narrator: This has since led to Low Swirl Combustion to become patented and commercially used in a variety of industries, including heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. Cheng is now working with a solar energy company in the high temperature and high pressure environment of gas turbines. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.