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, such as:

  • holography
  • fluorescence
  • laser and phase Doppler anemometry
  • particle image velocimetry
  • coherent anti-Stokes Raman spectroscopy
  • infrared absorption spectroscopy
  • Rayleigh scattering

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. These have 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.

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Group prizes

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

Ricardo award for best UK paper

This award is for a:

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

Find out more about the Ricardo award for best UK paper

Huw Edwards prize for services to combustion physics

This award is for outstanding contributions to combustion physics over a prolonged period.

Find out more about the Huw Edwards prize

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

This award will be judged on the significance of the contribution and the difficulties overcome.

Find out more about the Lefebvre prize

Felix Weinberg prize

This award is for the best paper presented at the group’s Early Career Young Researchers meeting, held every two years.

Find out more about the Felix Weinberg prize

Group events

Find events for the Combustion Physics Group


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

Useful links

Committee and contacts

Chair Ms Catherine Goy, CPhys FInstP
Secretary Dr Iain Burns, MInstP
Ordinary Member Professor Ramanarayanan Balachandran, MInstP
Ordinary Member Professor Saptarshi Basu, FInstP
Ordinary Member Professor Yannis Hardalupas, FInstP
Ordinary Member Professor Nedunchezhian Swaminathan, MInstP
Ordinary Member Dr Konstantina Vogiatzaki, MInstP

Email: [email protected]