Combustion Physics Group

This is an IOP special interest group, which is a community of IOP members focused on a particular discipline, application or area of interest. Special interest groups allow members to connect and share knowledge and ideas. The IOP funds groups to deliver a range of activities including events, prizes and bursaries. All of our groups are driven by members.

About the group

As a special interest, member-driven group, we provide a forum for the discussion of the physical aspects of flames, ignition, detonation and related topics.

We are interested in these fields at a fundamental level and in the context of the practical use of wanted combustion processes in engines, boilers and other systems.

We also focus on unwanted combustion, like fires and explosions. 

Interest in the physical aspects of combustion continues to increase. We started in 1973 and have a good mix of industrialists and academics.

On the diagnostic side, two of the main tools for flame study are:

  1. the spectroscopy of flames 
  2. optical methods based on external light sources

Almost all the diagnostic techniques are physical. 


One interest area is the increased use of lasers. This includes optical techniques linked to combustion like:

  • holography
  • fluorescence
  • Laser and Phase Doppler anemometry
  • Particle Image Velocimetry
  • coherent anti-Stokes Raman spectroscopy
  • Infrared Absorption Spectroscopy
  • Rayleigh Scatetring

We are also interested in the use of lasers for ignition and heating.  

Electrical aspects of combustion

The combination of electrical discharges and plasma jets with flames, along with spark ignition, are growing fields in combustion. 

Hybrid electrical and combustion devices are likely to become more important as the cost of fuel increases. 

The physical properties of low temperature plasmas have been embraced as an interest of the group at the request of leading workers in the field. 


Combustion instabilities, nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate emissions have led combustion to be associated with:

  • acoustics
  • scattering of energy

Fluctuations in energy prices and concern about the environmental impact of combustion processes have prompted appreciation of the relevance of combustion and heat transfer to the development of high efficiency appliances with reduced environmental impact. It has also highlighted the use of poor fuels and lean mixtures. In this way, the group contributes to efforts for low and zero carbon emissions and sustainable energy, including hydrogen and renewable fuel combustion.


The need for economy has renewed interest in topics such as sensing, feedback and control in combustion systems at the applied level. It has also increased focus on modelling combustion processes at a fundamental level, both in laboratory systems and in practical devices using combustion for heat generation.


The need for economy has renewed interest in topics such as sensing, feedback and control in combustion systems at the applied level. It has also increased focus on modelling combustion processes at a fundamental level, both in laboratory systems and in practical devices, using combustion for heat generation.

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Group physics prizes and competitions 

Our prestigious group awards acknowledge outstanding work and excellence in combustion science.

Ricardo award for best UK paper

This physics award is for a:

  • significant technological advance
  • contribution to the advancement of understanding at a fundamental level

The deadline for nominations is 30 June 2021.

The prize is £250 and a certificate.

Peer-reviewed papers by researchers from UK or Irish institutions or organisations are eligible. They must have been published in an archive journal or at the Combustion Institute Symposium in the last two years. 

The award is for any field of combustion physics, which includes:

  • diagnostics
  • measurements
  • computation
  • modelling
  • theories

Huw Edwards prize for services to combustion physics

The award is for:

  • outstanding contributions to combustion physics over a prolonged period

The prize is reviewed annually, but not necessarily awarded every year .

The prize is £250 and a certificate.

Nominees may have:

  • led a strong research group over many years
  • made a substantial contribution to education and training 
  • raised the profile of combustion by exemplary teaching in academia or by working with popular media

The prize is for any field of combustion physics, and any individual or team based in the UK or Ireland.

The call for nominations is:

  • sent to group members
  • published on the Institute website
  • distributed to associated organisations such as the British Section of the Combustion Institute and British Flame 

The winner is announced at Combustion Physics Group annual general meeting, which usually takes place in September or October.

Lefebvre prize for best UK PhD thesis in the field of combustion physics

This award will be judged on the significance of the:

  • contribution
  • difficulties overcome

The award is for any PhD thesis published or examined by a UK or Irish university between 1 January 2016 and 31 December 2017 .

The PhD can be in any field of combustion physics, which include: 

  • diagnostics
  • measurements
  • computation

To nominate a candidate, PhD thesis supervisors email thesis abstracts and supporting letters of a maximum of 200 words to: 


Felix Weinberg prize

This awards is for the:

  • best paper presented at the group’s Early Career Young Researchers  meeting, held every two years 

Nominees have received a research degree in the last five years, allowing for career breaks, and are:

  • research students
  • researchers in the early stages of their careers

The sub-committee accepts submissions and strives to achieve a balance of topics between:

  • experimental and modelling
  • industrial and academic

Candidates are judged by a panel of at least three members of the combustion community. The prize is awarded for the best presentation and judging is based on an assessment of both subject matter and delivery.


Candidates for all awards are selected by a sub-committee of the Combustion Physics Group. They cannot serve on the prize committee. Winners are announced at a Combustion Physics Group meeting.

Annual conference and events 

The group arranges several meetings a year. These are organised independently, or with other Institute groups. Some are arranged with professional bodies like the British Section of the Combustion Institute and the Energy Institute.

Find group events on our events portal.


Our newsletter contains articles, reports on meetings and a diary of future events.

May 2019 (PDF, 2.5MB)
April 2010 (PDF, 635KB)

Useful links

British Section of the Combustion Institute 
Energy Institute

Committee and contacts


Learn more about Sir Harry Ricardo
Learn more about Professor Arthur Lefebvre
Learn more about Professor Felix Weinberg

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