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Research Abstracts Online
January 2010 - March 2011

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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
College of Science and Engineering
Department of Mechanical Engineering

PI: Jane H. Davidson, Associate Fellow

Solar Thermal Process Development and Corona Plasma Ion Collisions

Researchers in the Davidson group study the production of solar fuels in the form of synthesis gas and hydrogen. Synthesis gas is produced by using concentrated solar radiation to gasify biomass, while hydrogen is produced by the hydrolysis of zinc nanoparticles, which can be created high-temperature solar thermal processes. The biomass gasification project uses MSI resources to model fluid behavior within solar reactors and to optimize reactor geometry for synthesis gas production. Similarly, computational fluid dynamic modeling of the zinc hydrolysis reactor is used to predict the flow field in a reactor, enabling the estimation of particle residence time and reactivity. Additionally, the flow fields of liquid dessicants are being studied using computational fluid dynamics in order to better understand the storage of seasonal residential solar energy. Collisions of dc corona plasmas are studied using a particle-in-cell plus Monte Carlo approach to better understand the ion sources of many devices such as photocopiers, laser printers, and electronic air cleaners.

Group Members

Junhong Chen, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Julia F. Haltiwanger, Graduate Student
Brandon Jay Hathaway, Graduate Student
Masanori Honda, Graduate Student
Peter Krenzke, Graduate Student
Katie Krueger, Graduate Student
Josh Quinnell, Graduate Student
Luke J. Venstrom, Graduate Student
Pengxiang Wang, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin