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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/L021676/1
Title: Shock/turbulence interactions in dense gases
Principal Investigator: Touber, Dr E
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Mechanical Engineering
Organisation: Imperial College London
Scheme: First Grant - Revised 2009
Starts: 30 June 2014 Ends: 29 June 2015 Value (£): 100,221
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Acoustics Aerodynamics
Fluid Dynamics
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
26 Feb 2014 Engineering Prioritisation Meeting 26th February 2014 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form

To reduce the UK's greenhouse-gas emissions anywhere near the legally-binding 2050 targets, a major attack on both energy wastes and unsustainable forms of electricity production is essential. Owing to their appealing thermo-physical properties (e.g. large heat capacity relatively to the molecular weight, low boiling point, elevated density), molecularly-complex and dense gases (e.g. hydrocarbons, perfluorocarbons, siloxanes) are at the heart of realistic solutions for thermal power stations to operate efficiently on low-temperature heat sources (e.g. solar, biomass, geothermal), where they are used as substitute for water steam (e.g. organic Rankine cycle). Flow expanders in such power stations partially operate in the vicinity of the thermodynamic critical point, where the speed of sound is substantially reduced, turning the expander flow into a highly supersonic gas flow, inevitably leading to the formation of shock waves.

Shock waves have the detrimental property of degrading the expander efficiency by dissipating kinetic energy into heat, and by promoting viscous losses through boundary-layer separation and thickening. Quite remarkably, and contrary to ideal gases, shock waves in molecularly-complex and dense gases can be made almost isothermal, therefore relieving part of the efficiency losses imparted by the shock wave. This remarkable property is a direct consequence of the exceptionally large number of active degrees of freedom of the gas molecule. While the prospect of efficient supersonic expanders is appealing, little is known on the implication near-isentropic shocks have on the amplification of turbulence fluctuations (which are always present in turbines). In particular, shock/turbulence interactions in dense gases can lead to the emission of energetic acoustic waves, which are significantly more powerful than in standard ideal gases. If present, such acoustic forcing can erode the expected turbine efficiency, generate vibrations and cause premature blade fatigue. The proposed research will establish a robust and fundamental understanding of sound emission from shock/turbulence interactions in dense gases, and provide a new understanding of the underlying physics, which will allow the development of predictive tools that can inform future design choices.

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Organisation Website: http://www.imperial.ac.uk