Computational Thermophysics and Fluids Laboratory


Note from PI: My projects are constantly evolving and growing making it difficult to maintain it here. The best way to understand my latest work is through my resume or sending me an email.

Project #1: Physics-Based Model Development for Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Design

Computational modeling of high-speed flows (velocities greater than 10 times the speed of sound) requires accurate description of the physical processes that dictate chemical reactions, ionization reactions, and gas-surface interactions. We will use a myriad of high-fidelity computational and experimental tools to develop physical models that will radically improve the reliability and predictability of current CFD tools. A physics-based model for reactions on carbon surfaces is shown below.

Impact: (a) Hypersonic vehicles being developed by the U.S. Air Force and Navy. (b) Space probe missions of NASA/ESA to Europa and gas giants (Saturn, Neptune).

Development of CFD Models

Project #2: High-Fidelity Microscale Analysis for the Design of Thermal Protection Systems (TPS)

The TPS on a space vehicle is a critical component that ensures the success of the missions. The materials used for TPS are generally carbon composites and the microstructural processes in carbon composites manifest at the macroscale and influence design. We will resolve the macroscopic length scale (~ 1 cm) of TPS materials to micron level fidelity (1 micron) and understand microscale processes that influence macroscale behavior. It will enable us to build predictive design models to reduce safety margins on current TPS materials.

Impact: Sample return mission to Mars and human Mars mission.

Microscale simulations for material design

Project #3: Design of Space Instruments

Missions like the Cassini-Huygens (to Saturn) and Europa clipper (to Europa) measure the gaseous plumes ejecting out of the planetary body to detect extra-terrestrial life. The extremely low density of the plumes makes it challenging to measure the gas composition with existing instruments. Our goal is to design new space instruments that will potentially fly on-board such missions and increase the density of the collected gaseous plumes and improve detection. We will use a novel particle-based method called direct simulation Monte Carlo (DSMC) that is ideally suited to simulate rarefied flows.

Impact: Orbiter space missions of NASA in search of extra-terrestrial life.

Design of Space Instruments

Project #4: Experimental Facility Characterization for Validation

Computational tools need to be validated under controlled experimental conditions to ensure it is mimicking actual physical processes, and not just generating numbers on a computer. Computational tools for the design of thermal protections materials are evaluated against arc-jet and inductively coupled plasma torch (ICP) facilities that use plasma as the source. Experimental information only provides a partial set of measurements that are insufficient to generate all the required parameters for validation efforts. We will use the plasma physics solver called nonPDPSIM to precisely simulate the plasma and the high-temperature gas generation process.

Impact: Validation of design codes at NASA and Department of Defense (Air Force Research Laboratories).

Characterization of Experimental Facilities