Finding the source of pollutant emissions is no easy task when one has to look inside a dirty combustion chamber. But an Iowa State University researcher may have a solution.

Terry Meyer, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Iowa State, is using laser-based sensors to capture images at upwards of thousands of frames per second. The images record all kinds of data on the air-fuel mixture inside the chamber. By selecting lasers of different wavelengths, the combustion sensors can trace the source of pollutants such as soot, nitric oxide, and carbon monoxide. The sensors can also look for unburned fuel, and capture data about fuel sprays, fuel-air mixing, and energy release.

"The goal is to probe this harsh environment to provide the knowledge needed to reduce pollutant emissions and enable the utilization of alternative fuels," Meyer said. Meyer hopes the research can reduce reliance on fossil fuels, which now account for 85 percent of global energy use.

Find out more here .