Energy poverty affects over a billion people worldwide; off-grid energy sources such as small wind turbines (SWTs) are one method of addressing this problem. Unlike large-scale turbines, SWTs exist in a unique low Reynolds number flow regime which is not fully understood. Furthermore, technology implementation in developing countries is subject to limited availability of materials, manufacturing techniques, and maintenance scheduling. With the help of a number of undergraduate students, Dr. Shields is developing the SU wind tunnel laboratory to experimentally investigate these issues; ultimately better turbines may be designed which are ideally suited for the aerodynamic and economic climate in which they are installed.
Direct Simulation Monte Carlo (DSMC) technique has been used in computational studies of designing many MEMS (Microelectromechanical systems) devices. A micropump with a built-in microvalve was designed and studied by Dr. Yen-Lin Han using DSMC simulations. Employing rarefied gas phenomenon of thermal edge flow, this micropump is driven by heating up a thermal bimorph microvalve, which opens up the valve to allow the gas flow at the same time. Preliminary results have demonstrated the feasibility of this design.
Han, Yen-Lin, Proceedings of IMECE2014-38708, ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, Montreal, Canada, 2014. (Abstract Accepted)
Several undergraduate students contributed to this research through design and testing of several microalgae processing devices. Their work was published in leading journals and presented at several Algae Biomass Summits, the largest algae conference in the US. The research effort is led by Dr. Shuman.