Energy conversion systems
The Thermofluids Research Group has four themes for its research projects:
Hydrogen Technology, Alternate Energy and Energy Systems
Hydrogen is an energy carrier which can be integrated into in stationary and mobile energy systems. Stationary applications include stand-alone systems based on renewable energy sources like solar or wind. In this instance hydrogen provides a means of (battery free) energy storage and can also be used later in fuel cells for power generation. Stand-alone energy systems, based on solar-photovoltaic technology, also form an important area of energy research with applications for remote communities. The optimal deployment of energy systems requires adequate understanding of the design and operational parameters affecting their performance. Through combining experiments with modelling a better understanding can emerge of energy systems.
Research into flow behaviour allows for a better understanding into the fundamental and applied aspects of fluid dynamics. Fluids find widespread application in process industries as well as operations dependant on convective flow currents, whether aimed at cooling or heating. Investigations into steady state as well as time-varying (unsteady) flows also help further understand how different factors affect flow mixing and overall behaviour. This can be facilitated through a number of techniques including flow visualisations and turbulence measurements.
Despite continued efforts to develop the use of renewable energy sources and technology, reliance continues on combustion-based processes (using fossil fuels) to support many industrial as well as every day activities. These include stationary applications, such as power generation or heating processes, as well as mobile applications, like personal transport. Combustion research may also include studies into more sustainable means of power provision through fuel stocks derived from timber biomass. Much research is conducted world-wide into combustion to help develop and apply alternate fuels, increase process efficiencies and reduce emissions. Studies on combustion processes can also further understanding of relationship between operational, environmental and design factors on pollutant formation.
Diagnostics and experimental techniques are an important pathway to help understand various thermofluids related problems. Experimental techniques also provide an essential tool for the validation and development of computational models. These laboratory based methods can be based on a range of sensor as well as non-intrusive (optical) methods with widespread application to various disciplines, in engineering and beyond.