Luca Massa

Assistant Professor

  • Ph.D., Aerospace Engineering, Mississippi State University
  • B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Politecnico di Bari, Italy

Numerical Methods, Combustion, Fluid dynamics, Plasma Dynamics, Hypersonics

  • 2016 - Present, Assistant Professor, Aerospace and Ocean Engineering, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • 2014 - 2015 Research Scientist, The Center for Exascale Simulation of Plasma Assisted Combustion, University of Illinois
  • 2009 - 2014 Assistant Professor, University of Texas at Arlington
  • 2006 - 2008 Visiting Professor, Clemson University
  • 2001-2005  Research Scientist, Center for Simulation of Advanced Rockets, University of Illinois

My research focuses on chemical reactive flows. Its objective is to determine innovative approaches to the coupling between fluid and chemical scales that can lead to a significant improvement of the performance of aerospace vehicles.

Hypersonic Transition

One of the most interesting properties of high-speed (hypersonic) flows is the change of the instability that induces the transition to turbulence beyond Mach 5. High-speed transition is caused by acoustic modes. These modes are coupled with the fluid thermochemistry, so that it is possible to delay transition by modifying the state of the working fluid.  I am building computational models to understand the coupling and best design to take advantage of the interaction. An increase in transition distance can lead to a reduction of the thermal protection system and an increase of the payload.

Plasma-Coupled Combustion

An important process where the coupling between fluid and chemical scales is of interest is that of plasma-assisted combustion. The most critical step of a combustion process is the initiation of the radical cycle. When a combustible mixture is coupled with a weakly-ionized plasma, the electron impact can generate radicals that can short-circuit the radical cycle or bypass it creating an explosive mixture. In order to take advantage of this coupling in atmospheric conditions, plasma and combustion must be coupled. I am building computational models to investigate the plasma-combustion coupling to exploit this phenomenon in high-speed combustion.


    Dr. Luca Massa
    • (540) 231-6940
    • Aerospace & Ocean Engineering (MC0203)
      Randolph Hall, RM 204, Virginia Tech
      Blacksburg, VA 24061