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Department of Aerospace Engineering
A. James Clark School of Engineering
Our principal research interest is in developing fundamental understanding of the physical processes that govern the operation and performance of small (sub kilogram) energy conversion systems capable of operating on a range of high energy density liquid hydrocarbon fuels. Particular emphasis is placed on identifying the processes that improve and degrade system performance as the size of the device is reduced. To this end, we have developed analytical models for the propagation of flames in micro-channels, higher fidelity numerical simulations that incorporate multi-step gas phase and surface chemistry, and non-intrusive diagnostic techniques based on infrared absorption spectroscopy that are capable of measuring species concentration and gas temperature distributions in reacting flows through sub-millimeter channels.
We are interested in fuel-oxidizer mixing processes occurring at the low Reynolds numbers associated with miniaturized power systems and have been investigating these using a combination of analytical modeling, CFD simulation, and flow visualization experiments using laser Doppler velocimetry and particle image velocimetry. We are also interested in establishing the limitations of existing small heat engines. To this end, we have been measuring the performance of the smallest commercially produced internal combustion engines in order to develop experimentally validated scaling laws for small engine performance and to understand the fundamental processes that limit miniaturization of these devices.
Finally, we are interested in developing small-hybrid combustor/solid oxide fuel cell power systems that could be used in small unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) or as battery replacements for man-portable electronic systems.
Other research interests include pollutant formation and emissions reduction in aircraft engines, industrial burners, and incinerators, combustion instability, and non-intrusive diagnostic techniques for temperature, species, and velocity.