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Subith Vasu
Researches high-temp reacting technologies that increase power generation efficiency and destroy chemical weapons.

Subith Vasu Associate Professor

Dept of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Office: Engineering I, Room 407F

He is also:

Member of Center for Advanced Turbomachinery and Energy Research (CATER)

Combustion and Laser Diagnostics Society (CLADS)

Florida Space Institute (joint appointment)

CREOL, The College of Optics & Photonics (joint appointment)

“Every day I am reminded that our work is answering the very real need to keep our soldiers, our families, and our world safe from chemical weapons.”


Focus Areas

  • Optical diagnostics and sensors development
  • Shock tubes and shock waves
  • Supercritical CO2 powercycles
  • Chemical kinetics and applications in propulsion, space and planetary science

Most days, “Combustion Man” Subith Vasu can be found at his lab, researching ways to detonate deadly substances in the safest possible way. By generating the conditions of fire inside a 50-foot-long shock tube, his research team examines what happens to toxic chemicals during explosions and how to destroy those dangerous weapons. His team also investigates new technologies that can maximize power generation efficiency to pioneer smarter sources of energy.

Societal Impact

Vasu, who felt “very moved” by a chemical attack in the Middle East, has been researching ways to eradicate these weapons. His work is a reminder that scientific research can be used to benefit – even save – humanity. Vasu is careful to point out that he is not doing his research alone. In fact, he chose UCF based in large part on the university’s research program that allows students to collaborate with local companies and work on real problems that are relevant to the industry.

Graduate Students

His research group includes 12 Ph.D. students, 1 master’s student and three post-doctoral researchers.

Vasu’s students have received national fellowships from the U.S. Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, and NASA. Several have won a best student paper award and regularly write first author papers in premier journals. Several have gone on to secure positions at major industry employers and premier research sites, such as General Electric and Lawrence Livermore National Lab.


  • Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University (2010)
  • Adviser Prof. Ronald K. Hanson; Thesis: “Measurements of ignition time, OH time-histories, and reaction rates in jet fuel and surrogate oxidation systems.”
  • B. Tech, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (2004)

Courses He Teaches

  • High-Speed Aerodynamics
  • Combustion, Spectroscopy
  • Energy Systems Lab

Featured Video

Is it possible to detonate deadly chemical weapons safely? In “Combustion Man,” Vasu and his team are shown working hard to discover ways to destroy these dangerous substances by simulating explosions in the lab’s 50-foot long shock tube. Produced by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

Current Projects

Vasu and his team are examining the reaction rates and processes in combustion, explosions, atmosphere, and propulsion systems using shock tube and spectroscopic diagnostics. Other projects include optical diagnostics and sensors development and applications in energy, propulsion, space, and environmental science; and fundamental and applied laser spectroscopy.

He has $3.68 million in research funding from various sources including federal, state and industry.


The Vasu Lab at UCF examines combustion, propulsion, laser diagnostics & absorption sensors, and fuels.

It features a 50-foot-long shock tube for combustion experiments.

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Discoveries/Publication Highlights

Vasu has 1,600 total citations in Google Scholar. In 2017, he published more than 26 articles.

View Vasu's Google Scholar page

Awards & Honors

2018 DARPA Young Faculty Award

2018 SAE Ralph R Teetor Award

2017 ASME’s IGTI Dilip Ballal Early Career Award. (This international award is given yearly to just one recipient. Vasu is the second in the U.S. and the fourth in world to receive this honor.)

2015 U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency Young Investigator Award

2015 American Chemical Society PRF Doctoral New Investigator Award