A Comparison of Computational Models for Predicting Yield Sooting Index

Travis Kessler, Peter St. John, Junqing Zhu, Charles McEnally, Lisa Pfefferle, J. Mack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus Citations


Sooting propensity, a measurement of how much particulate matter is produced when a fuel is burned, is a property of significant interest among researchers who are striving to discover the next generation of cleaner, more efficient fuels and fuel additives. Many compounds are not viable as fuels and/or fuel additives, and as a result, designing cleaner-burning biofuels using only experimental techniques is inefficient. Predictive models have been instrumental in reducing this inherent difficulty, providing researchers with a tool to preemptively screen compounds before production and testing. The present work compares the accuracies and interpretabilities of existing models used to predict a particular measure of sooting propensity, Yield Sooting Index (YSI). These models include artificial neural networks, graph neural networks, and multivariate equations. A novel equation for predicting YSI based on atom path count and bond order is proposed, which can highlight key structural components that contribute to YSI. It was found that artificial neural networks slightly outperform graph neural networks and greatly outperform multivariate equations in blind (test set) prediction accuracy; however, graph neural networks and multivariate equations provide significantly more interpretability as to how compound structure relates to YSI. Predictions of YSI are compared to experimental measurements for previously un-tested compounds with cetane numbers comparable to diesel fuel (50-60) (butyl decanoate, ethyl decanoate, 1,4-bis(ethenoxymethyl)cyclohexane, and 5-heptyloxolan-2-one), and it was found that these compounds produce significantly less soot compared to diesel fuel.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1385-1393
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Combustion Institute
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2700-75611


  • artificial neural network
  • fuel property prediction
  • graph neural network
  • multivariate regression
  • yield sooting index


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