Professor Filippo Coletti to Lead NSF Grant


Professor Filippo Coletti will lead a grant to bridge the gap between particle-scale thermal - - transport and device-scale predictions

The University of Minnesota recently received a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to collaborate with researchers from University of Michigan and Iowa State University in developing a new paradigm in multiphase heat transfer modeling.

The research involves understanding how heat is transported in gas-particle mixtures, which is critical to improving the performance, efficiency and reliability of clean energy technologies and predicting environmental flows. The conversion of coal and biomass into useful fuel, thermal storage by particulate material, and particle-based solar receivers, all represent promising technologies that rely heavily on heat transfer in multiphase systems.

Current tools used in industry and academia rely on simplistic models for average reaction rates as well as heat transfer coefficients that are known to vary by several orders of magnitude. This project introduces a new modeling approach that will enable researchers to address the huge range of challenges associated with heat transfer through gas-particle mixtures. Coletti is in charge of the experimental component of this effort. His research team will leverage high-speed imaging, particle tracking, and temperature measurements to gain new physical insight, as well as validating numerical simulations. The focus will be on a regime in which energy and momentum of both the carrier gas and the suspended particles are comparable. For a broader educational impact, a toy version of a fluidized bed will be built with beads sprayed with thermochromic liquid crystals that change color with temperature. This will be presented at local schools to illustrate fundamental concepts of fluid-particle interactions.