Nitromethane pyrolysis in shock tubes and a micro flow reactor with a controlled temperature profile

Olivier Mathieu, Nabiha Chaumeix, Yoshimichi Yamamoto, Said Abid, Claude Etienne Paillard, Takuya Tezuka, Hisashi Nakamura, Clayton Mulvihill, Eric L. Petersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nitromethane has many applications, such as in racing, as a gasoline fuel additive, and as a monopropellant. Despite a large number of studies and the small size of the molecule, the combustion chemistry of nitromethane is still not well understood. To improve models, the pyrolysis of nitromethane (CH3NO2) was investigated experimentally in shock tubes and in a micro flow reactor with a controlled temperature profile (MFR), under dilute conditions. Several spectroscopic diagnostics were used in the shock tubes to follow the concentration time histories of CO, H2O (both using IR laser absorption), and CH3NO2 (UV light absorption). A quadrupole mass spectrometer was used to measure CH3NO2, NO2, CH4, C2H4, and C2H2 at various temperatures with the MFR. These unique experimental results were compared to modern, detailed kinetics models from the literature, and no mechanism was able to reproduce these data over the wide range of conditions investigated. Predictions for the CO and H2O levels were generally inaccurate, and the CH4, C2H4, and C2H2 predictions were poor in most cases for the MFR data. Importantly, all models largely differ in their predictions. A numerical analysis was performed to identify ways to improve the next generation of nitromethane models. Results indicate that nitromethane decomposition needs to be improved below 1050 K, and that hydrocarbon-NOx interactions still need to be further investigated.

Original languageEnglish
JournalProceedings of the Combustion Institute
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


  • Micro-flow reactor
  • Nitromethane
  • Pyrolysis
  • Shock tubes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

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