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Thermofluids Research Group

Projects in this research group cover stand-alone energy systems, renewables, system and process modelling as well as optimisation using intelligent techniques, biomass fuel and its conversion, and turbulent fluidic behaviour in processes of industrial relevance.

Research Themes

Alternate Energy

Optimal deployment of stand-alone energy systems can be achieved by integrating renewables, such as solar-PV and wind in conjunction with energy storage through batteries, hydrogen, or others. Such deployment may also require efficient utilisation of (back-up) combustion-based thermal prime movers like reciprocating engines or micro gas turbines. Optimisation in these systems can additionally involve waste heat recovery and require the use of intelligent methods to size and select energy system components to reliably meet loads within cost constraints and a power management strategy. Projects undertaken by the group have applied multi-objective optimisation and predictive methods in alternate energy systems to satisfy dynamically varying power, heating and cooling loads and provide potable water (through on-site desalination) in a sustainable and techno-economically viable manner.

Turbulent Jets

Turbulent jets find widespread application in process industries and operations that rely on convective flow currents for cooling, heating, mixing or to promote process efficiency. The group has investigated a variety of free (unconfined), impinging or confined turbulent jets in gaseous or particle-laden (pulverised biomass) flows. Collaborative projects have also been undertaken with other groups in the School into evaporating sprays. Overall, the methods used combine experiments, including non-intrusive optical methods (infrared thermography, laser-based PIV), with computational fluid dynamics modelling.

Combustion

Biomass has the potential to reduce reliance on fossil-based (solid) fuels. However, a better understanding of the factors that influence its application is needed. The role of thermal treatments such as torrefaction has been studied by the group, with particular focus on how this impacts biomass handling and storage as well as its thermophysical and thermochemical properties. Research projects have also been undertaken into the combustion characteristics of raw and blended biomass. Additionally, the role of process variables on fouling deposits from (biomass) combustion has also been studied. The main methods used feature fixed-bed combustion, emissions analysis and a range of laboratory (analytical) techniques to support.

Experimental Techniques

Diagnostics and experimental techniques are an important pathway to help understand various thermofluids-related problems and validate modelling. Various research studies have been undertaken by the group to further develop methodologies in techniques such as Constant Temperature Anemometry (hot wires), infra-red thermography and image processing as well as Particle Image Velocimetry PIV.

Contact

If you are interested in a collaborative research project, consulting, starting a research degree (Doctorate, Masters) or have any other enquiries about our research activities, contact any of the group’s members:

Associate Professor Yasir Al-Abdeli
Telephone: (61 8) 6304 5439
Email: y.al-abdeli@ecu.edu.au

Dr Barun Das
Telephone: (61 8) 6304 2966
Email: b.das@ecu.edu.au

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