William L. Roberts, Ph.D.


Professor and Director

Research Interests

Dr. Roberts’ research interests include experimental combustion, propulsion, and laser-based optical diagnostics for reacting flows.  Of fundamental interest is the complex interaction between the various length and velocity scales in turbulent flows and the chemical kinetics associated with combustion.  His focus is on understanding these interactions in canonical flames, using advanced techniques to measure scalar and vector quantities of interest.  He is currently building a unique high-pressure combustion capability at KAUST which will be used to understand combustion phenomena, particularly formation of pollutants such as soot, occurring in practical combustion hardware such as gas turbines and internal combustion engines

Selected Publications

  • Laminar Burning Velocities at Elevated Pressures for Gasoline and Gasoline Surrogates Associated with RON
    O. Mannaa, M. S. Mansour, W. Roberts, and S.H. Chung
    Combust. Flame 162:6, 2311-2321 (2014)
  • Soot Measurements For Biodiesel And Diesel Spray Combustion Under High Temperature Highly Diluted Ambient Conditions
    J. Zhang, W. Jing, W. L. Roberts, and T. Fang
    Fuel, 135 340-351 (2014)
  • Experimental Characterization of Methane Inverse Diffusion Flame
    A.  M. Elbaz and W. L. Roberts
    Combust. Sci. Tech., 186:1249-1272 (2014)
  • Effects of diluents on soot surface temperature and volume fraction in diluted ethylene diffusion flames at pressure
    Ranjith Kumar A.K, J. Zhang, T. Fang, and W. L. Roberts
    Combust. Sci. Tech., 186:815-828 (2014)
  • Flame Structure of Methane Inverse Diffusion Flame
    A. M. Elbaz and W. L. Roberts
    Experimental thermal and Fluid Sciences, 56 23-32 (2014)
  • Flame Structure of Methane Inverse Diffusion Flame
    A. M. Elbaz and W. L. Roberts
    Experimental thermal and Fluid Sciences, 56 23-32 (2014)
  • Semi-Batch Deoxygenation of Canola- and Lard-Derived Fatty Acids to Diesel-Range Hydrocarbons
    J. P. Ford, N. Thapaliya, M. J. Kelly, W. L Roberts, and H. H. Lamb
    Energy and Fuels, 27:7489-7496 (2013)
  • Effects Of Ambient Temperature And Oxygen Concentration On Diesel Spray Combustion Using A Single-Nozzle Injector In A Constant Volume Combustion Chamber
    W. Jing, W. L. Roberts, and T. Fang
    Combust. Sci. Tech., 185:1378-1399 (2013)


The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

  • Ph.D. (Aerospace Engineering), May 1992
  • B.S.E. (Aerospace Engineering) August 1986

Professional Profile

  • 2012-Present: Professor, Mechanical Engineering program, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal, KSA.
  • 1994-2013: Assist., Assoc., and Professor, Dept. of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC .
  • 2001-2013: Director, Applied Energy Research Laboratory, NC State University.
  • 1992-1994: Research Engineer, Lockheed Engineering and Sciences Co, NASA Langley Program Office, Hampton, VA
  • 1989-1991: Engineer, Environmental Management Sciences, Brighton MI
  • 1987-1989: Aerospace Engineer, Analytical Services (ANSER), Co, Arlington, VA

Scientific and Professional Memberships

  • Chairman for the Eastern States Section of the Combustion Institute, beginning two year term Oct 2011 (previously held Vice-Chair, Program Chair, Papers Chair, Local Arrangements Chair positions)
  • American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (senior member, member of Propellants and Combustion TC)
  • American Chemical Society
  • Society of Automotive Engineers


  • Inaugural Progress Energy Faculty Fellow, Dept. of Mech. & Aero. Eng, 2002.
  • Inaugural BASF Undergraduate Research Award, Dept of Mech. & Aero. Eng, 2000.  
  • NSF CAREERs Award recipient 1996.
  • ARO Young Investigators Award recipient, 1995

KAUST Affiliations

  • Mechanical Engineering (KAUST), Clean Combustion Research Center (KAUST)
  • NC State University, Raleigh, NC