Frediano V. Bracco Memorial Resolution
Professor Frediano V. Bracco
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
September 29, 2013
Frediano V. Bracco was a pioneer in internal combustion engine research. The seminal scientific contributions he made while serving as a faculty member in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at Princeton University led to significant improvements in engine design and operation, and his impact was felt thoughout the industry.
Born in Genova, Italy in 1937, Professor Bracco received a Laurea in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Bologna, Italy in 1961. After a short stint in industry, Professor Bracco completed a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Oklahoma in 1964, thereafter joining Wyle Laboratories in Huntsville Alabama as a “Special Investigator” in gas dynamics and conducting research on shock waves in air, shock wave focusing, shock interactions, and nonlinear acoustics. Professor Bracco joined the Aerospace and Mechanical Sciences Department of Princeton in 1966 as a graduate advisee of the Goddard Professor of Jet Propulsion, Luigi Crocco. Upon completing his Ph.D. degree in 1970, Professor Bracco served on the Professional Research Staff of the Department, and transferred to the faculty in 1973 as an Assistant Professor. He was promoted to Full Professor in 1983, and spent the rest of his career at Princeton.
As early as 1971, Professor Bracco began to devote the majority of his efforts to research related to internal combustion engines, and pioneered a new, more science-based approach. As an Assistant Professor, he established the Engines and Sprays Laboratory in MAE, which he led until June 1996. Over the 25 years of operation, the Princeton Laboratory became internationally renowned for its original and groundbreaking contributions to spray and combustion research, and for the development of advanced measurement and computational tools to investigate in-cylinder processes in engines. Professor Bracco introduced the engine combustion community to in situ laser diagnostics to study the details of in-cylinder flows, high pressure spray atomization, turbulent combustion, and transient processes inside motoring and firing internal combustion engines. He also broke new ground in the use of multidimensional computer models for the analysis of complex flows, sprays, and combustion processes in engines.
Professor Bracco’s unique approach to research on rotary Wankel engines, stratified charge spark ignition engines, and diesel engines, married the fundamentals of the physical and chemical sciences to internal-combustion-engine technology. He provided leadership to his graduate students and professional and technical staff, and made seminal contributions toward a more fundamental understanding of fuel atomization and injection, which improved engine design. His group’s fundamental contributions include a novel Boltzman-equation-based spray model, the development of spray atomization and drop collision and coalescence models, the experimental discovery of fractal properties of in-cylinder flames, achieving two-dimensional spontaneous Raman imaging in an optical engine, and performing detailed characterizations of flow turbulence and its effect on flame speeds and combustion rates in engines. By coupling comprehensive and informative measurements with computational fluid dynamics and a rigorous theoretical foundation, Bracco’s work provided crucial insights for the development of high-fidelity models that improved our understanding of engine sprays and combustion. That these models are today widely employed in industry to design and optimize engines is, in no small measure, testimony to the impact of the work of Professor Bracco and his students.
Professor Bracco was also instrumental in starting the Direct-Injection Stratified Charge (DISC) engine combustion workshops organized by the US Department of Energy. These workshops established a tight collaborative research environment involving industry, national laboratories, and academia, and provided a powerful outlet for disseminating the work from the Princeton laboratory to the engine research community at large. The DISC workshops were often lively and were marked by highly stimulating discussions in large part because of Professor Bracco’s well known ability to raise pointed, incisive and critical questions.
Professor Bracco played an integral role in sustaining, nuturing, and growing Princeton’s internationally recognized eminence in combustion and the thermal sciences. Over his career at Princeton he advised 37 graduate students, and provided a strong academic research environment that included 12 Professional Research and Technical staff. Several of his former PhD students currently hold academic positions in leading universities in the USA and abroad. His students remember his ability to think deeply about research and ask critical questions, which would often lead to the solution of both fundamental and applied problems. He created a challenging and stimulating environment for his students and staff where high-quality research flourished.
Professor Bracco’s research was strongly supported by the US Department of Energy, the Army Research Office, and a large number of industrial organizations, including, Cummins Engine Co., Fiat, Ford, General Motors, John Deere Co., Komatsu, Nissan, Volkswagen, and Yamaha. He authored or co-authored over two hundred publications in the fields of liquid propellant rocket combustion, non-linear acoustics, detonations, steady and unsteady spray combustion, liquid jet atomization, formation of pollutants in combustion processes, numerical analysis, advanced instrumentation and optical diagnostics, catalytic combustion, and modeling and measurements of combustion in spark ignition, compression ignition, and stratified charge reciprocating and rotary engines. He received numerous awards for his technical contributions to the the Society of Automotive Engineers, including the Colwell Merit Award, 1984 and 1985, the Harry Horning Award in 1986 and 1987, and he was elected an SAE Fellow in 1988. He also served as Associate Editor of the Combustion Science and Technology journal from 1972-77, and was a member of the ASME and AIAA.
Professor Bracco contributed to the academic mission of the MAE department by teaching several undergraduate and graduate courses on topics related to fossil energy, chemical rockets, and nonequilibrium gas dynamics. Many of his students have fond memories of Physics of Gases - a class that Professor Bracco taught for many years, primarily to first-year graduate students - and remember him also as an excellent classroom teacher. He served as the department’s Director of Graduate Studies for four years 1990-1994.
This Memorial Resolution was prepared by a committee comprised of Professors
Luigi Martinelli, Frederick Dryer, Chung K. Law, Alexander J. Smits, with the invaluable assistance of Professor Rolf D. Reitz *78 of the University of Wisconsin Madison.
and to the Archivist of the University.