Professor Emeritus, MAE
Energy from combustion, combustion efficiency, and combustion instability problems in a variety of engines, including rockets.
Professor Williams' studies range from investigations into the fundamental nature of energy and combustion to practical applications in energy conservation and production, as well as pollution control. Among other things, he looks at the structures of flames employing both detailed and modeled chemistry, conducting small-scale laminar combustion experiments to measure ignition and extinction. Williams' work in combustion has led to a greater understanding of pollutants. He has focused on the mechanisms of production of NOx emissions (oxides of nitrogen), which can be used to decrease pollution from automobiles. Williams has designed fundamental combustion experiments on the space shuttle and in the space station to look at the effects of gravity or microgravity on flames. By studying droplet and spray combustion for propulsion, more efficient rocket engines have been addressed. Most recently, Williams has been looking at fire safety and providing a San Diego chemical kinetic mechanism for use in combustion problems.
Forman A. Williams received his Ph.D. in engineering science from the California Institute of Technology in 1958. He was an assistant professor at Harvard until 1964, at which time he came to UCSD. In 1981, he accepted the Robert H. Goddard Chair at Princeton but returned to UCSD in 1988. He served as director of the Center for Energy and Combustion Research for ten years, beginning in 1991 and was an adjunct professor at Yale for ten years, beginning in 1997. His research interests center in the field of combustion. Williams is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His other distinctions include an Alexander von Humboldt U.S. Senior Scientist Award; the Bernard Lewis Gold Medal of the Combustion Institute; the AIAA Pendray Aerospace Literature Award; an honorary doctorate degree from Universidad Polytecnica de Madrid; and the University of California Presidential Chair in Energy and Combustion Research. Williams is the author of "Combustion Theory" and co-author of "Fundamental Aspects of Combustion."