476273 Experimental and Numerical Investigations of Particle Flows
Operations involving solid particles are commonplace in a wide range of industries, such as granulation, heat and mass transfer, fluidized beds, tableting, etc. However, in general, the behavior of particles in these systems is still not well understood. The lack of fundamental understanding leads to poor system performance, ineffective operation design and, in some cases process failure. For instance, particles have a tendency to segregate by size when in motion which can lead to inconsistent product quality (quality-control issues) when particles discharge from hoppers. My research interests include improving the understanding of particle-particle and particle-fluid interactions with the goal of more accurate predictive capabilities, resulting in more efficient process design. Additionally, many industrial operations would benefit from particles with specific properties, such as particle size, cohesion level and/or shape. Thus, I am also interested in improving current methods as well as developing new techniques to control particle properties.
As a postdoctoral research assistant in the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department at the University of Colorado, I am the lead experimentalist in Prof. Christine Hrenya’s research group. I have worked on projects related to particle cohesion and heat transfer. The overarching objective of these various projects is to develop an improved, fundamental understanding of bulk particle behavior by investigating micro-scale (individual) particle properties and interactions. To achieve this aim, the effects of individual particle properties on bulk particle behavior are studied through the development of experiments and cost-effective characterization techniques. For example, in one project, the effects of cohesion between particles in a fluidized bed are measured and understood via the effects of surface roughness on the cohesion level. Additionally, I have mentored and supervised undergraduates to carry out accurate measurements that can be used for model validation and in applying for grants to pay for their research stipends, as well as gained experience writing proposals and collaborating with industry.
Prior to my postdoc, I received my PhD from the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department of University of Florida where I was advised by Prof. Jennifer Curtis. During my PhD, physical models for dense phase gas-solid multiphase flows using computational fluid dynamics were developed and tested. Models were verified by simulated crater, or scour hole, formation in a particle bed by a subsonic jet of gas. The experimental results from a NASA internship and NASA lunar gravity flight were also used to further develop and verify the physical model. Experiments performed at the University of Florida to investigate particle property effects on cratering allowed for development of a fundamental understanding of the effects of particle shape, benchmark data for computational fluid dynamics simulations and improved crater scaling relationships.
Not only does my background in fluid-particle flows make me a strong candidate for teaching standard fluids based chemical engineering courses, but also allows me to incorporate particle technology into the undergraduate curriculum. Training graduate and undergraduate students in this industrially applicable field will help to prepare a relevant workforce. Additionally, my experience in large-scale, experimental systems provides me with the necessary skills to teach students in unit-operations laboratory and process-control courses.
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