Runhua Zhao


Ph.D Candidate

Combustion and Fuels Research Lab

Dept. of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

Viterbi School of Engineering

University of Southern California (USC)

Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA

Short Biography

My current doctoral research has focused on experimental and numerical investigations of laminar flames of heavy liquid and solid hydrocarbons under various temperatures, pressures, and flow conditions.  Given that wealth of data and knowledge that is available for light fuels at near-standard conditions, the main goal of my work was to extent this expertise and knowledge in three additional dimensions, namely fuel molecular weight (regardless of chemical classification) as well as pressure and unburned reactant temperature.  These three dimensions are essential towards the understanding of the combustion characteristics of real fuels under engine-relevant conditions.  Extrapolations to such conditions based on knowledge available for light fuels at near-standard conditions constitute a questionable practice.


During my tenure at USC, I have been involved largely in the development of counterflow and spherically expanding flame facilities in which flame propagation and flame extinction limits can be studied at high pressures and temperatures, that is up to 50 atm and 700 K.  Additionally, I have determined experimentally and computationally extensive flame data for a wide range of fuels including di-cyclopentadiene that is the solid and the precursor of cyclopentadiene for which flame data were measured for the first time and reported in the 34th Combustion Symposium.


My most important contributions was the development of an entirely spherical combustion chamber that is enclosed in a high-temperature oven allowing for studying flame propagation under engine-relevant conditions during the compression stage. I have been involved in the resolution of these issues by implementing optical access and direct numerical simulations using detailed description of chemical kinetics and molecular transport, and based on those advances we believe that laminar flame speeds can be measured now with excellent accuracy under conditions of relevance to engines.


I am involved also in direct numerical simulations such as vortex flame interaction (VFI) problem for variable sizes vortices in order to assess potential effects on the preheat and reaction zones for heavy fuels that can decompose readily, and classical problem of determination of laminar flame speed using the Bunsen flame configuration to reveal the complex nature behind its apparent simple approach.



2015 (Expect) Ph.D. from University of Southern California

2011 M.S. in Green Technology from University of Southern California

2009 B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU), China.


Academic Course Work

At USC, I take major challenging courses such as Modern Alternative Energy Conversion Devices (AME 578), Industrial Ecology (ISE 576) and Solid State Energy Devices (EE 513). I also enrolled in Combustion Chemistry and Physics (AME 579), Advanced Topics in Combustion (AME 514), Computational Fluid Dynamics (AME 535a), Principles of Combustion (AME 513) as a strong support to future potential combustion efficiency research. The high scores in Engineering Analysis I&II (AME 525 & AME 526) ensures my mathematics qualification.


During my studying at USC, I lead the project that analyzed the development and market growth trend for Lithium Iron Phosphate (A comparative study of Lithium Ion Batteries).

Academic Material

Curriculum Vitae in pdf


In June 2010, I started my internship in Altusvia. It is a wholly funded solar cells production subsidiary under Hareon Energy Co. Ltd. Hareon is one of the largest silicon wafer production bases in China and has a complete photovoltaic chain integrating production of silicon stick, wafer, solar cell and solar module. My job is to take care of the production lines with eighty-thousand solar cells output daily.

My major duty includes:


5 years experience in experimental and computational study of combustion characteristics of heavy liquid fuel at engine relevant condition (high pressure, high unburned temperature and high Reynolds Number flow field).

Extensive knowledge with solar panel manufacture process including: texturing, diffusion, edge etching, PECVD, printing and sorting, especially the process condition (temperature, pressure etc.) for different kinds of wafers.

Key Strength Area:

Flame chemistry

Conventional gasoline, jet and diesel fuels

Alternative fuels, synthetic and bio-derived fuels

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)

Detailed modeling of reacting flows

Advanced laser diagnostics (PIV)
Heat transfer
Fluid mechanics




Runhua Zhao
telephone: 317-720-4130
Address: Viterbi School of Engineering, University of Southern California, 3710 McClintock Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA