On the uncertainty of temperature estimation in a rapid compression machine

Bryan W. Weber, Chih Jen Sung, Michael W. Renfro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Rapid compression machines (RCMs) have been widely used in the combustion literature to study the low-to-intermediate temperature ignition of many fuels. In a typical RCM, the pressure during and after the compression stroke is measured. However, measurement of the temperature history in the RCM reaction chamber is challenging. Thus, the temperature is generally calculated by the isentropic relations between pressure and temperature, assuming that the adiabatic core hypothesis holds. To estimate the uncertainty in the calculated temperature, an uncertainty propagation analysis must be carried out. Our previous analyses assumed that the uncertainties of the parameters in the equation to calculate the temperature were normally distributed and independent, but these assumptions do not hold for typical RCM operating procedures. In this work, a Monte Carlo method is developed to estimate the uncertainty in the calculated temperature, while taking into account the correlation between parameters and the possibility of non-normal probability distributions. In addition, the Monte Carlo method is compared to an analysis that assumes normally distributed, independent parameters. Both analysis methods show that the magnitude of the initial pressure and the uncertainty of the initial temperature have strong influences on the magnitude of the uncertainty. Finally, the uncertainty estimation methods studied here provide a reference value for the uncertainty of the reference temperature in an RCM and can be generalized to other similar facilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2518-2528
Number of pages11
JournalCombustion and Flame
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 The Combustion Institute.


  • Adiabatic core hypothesis
  • Error propagation
  • Monte Carlo analysis
  • Rapid compression machine
  • Temperature uncertainty
  • Uncertainty quantification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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