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Research Abstracts Online
January 2009 - March 2010

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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Institute of Technology
Department of Mechanical Engineering

PI: Jane H. Davidson, Associate Fellow

Projects in Computational Fluid Dynamics

These researchers have been involved in four projects during this period. In the first, they characterize the evolution of the growth and reaction of zinc nanoparticles synthesized and hydrolyzed in a new tubular aerosol reactor as a function of particle residence time in the aerosol. The experiments provide information about particle growth, morphology, and composition at various axial locations in the reactor.

In the second project, the researchers develop a scaled prototype vessel filled with an aqueous salt liquid desiccant for seasonal residential solar energy storage. The liquid desiccant has high-energy storage density due to the sensible energy extracted as heat and the chemical energy extracted via an absorption reaction. To maximize energy storage density, the water, concentrated solution, and diluted solution will be stored in a single vessel. The goal is to simultaneously maintain thermal and solutal stratification within this storage vessel.

The goal of the third project is to develop a volumetric receiver-reactor for the two-step solar thermal dissociation of water. The porous substrate, doped cerium dioxide (ceria), will undergo a high-temperature partial reduction, followed by a low-temperature steam hydrolysis for the production of solar hydrogen. Because the total amount of cerium dioxide used for this cycle is relatively small, rapid cycle times are necessary for meaningful hydrogen production. In addition, it is important that the pressure drop through the reactor remain low enough to prevent overheating and sintering of the porous ceria.

The objectives of the final project are to unveil the fundamental physics and chemistry of the nanoscale corona discharge and to evaluate its performance and ozone production through numerical models. This study uses a hybrid multiscale modeling approach that combines the accuracy of a kinetic model and the efficiency of a continuum model to model the nanoscale corona plasma.

Group Members

Julia Haltiwanger, Graduate Student
Brandon Hathaway, Graduate Student
Katie Krueger, Graduate Student
Josh Quinnell, Graduate Student
Luke Venstrom, Graduate Student
Pengxiang Wang, Graduate Student