NSF Grant Funds Purchase of State-of-the-Art Instrument

A team at the University of St. Thomas was recently awarded a Major Research Instrumentation grant from the National Science Foundation for the acquisition of a state-of-the-art instrument known as a particle image velocimeter. The interdisciplinary team includes four faculty from the School of Engineering:

  • Principal investigator (PI): Dr. David Forliti, Mechanical Engineering
  • Co-PI: Dr. Thomas Shepard, Mechanical Engineering
  • Co-PI: Dr. John Abraham, Mechanical Engineering
  • Co-PI: Dr. Cheol-Hong Min, Electrical and Computer Engineering

The team also includes one faculty member from the College of Arts and Sciences, Co-PI Dr. Thomas Höft of the Mathematics Department.

Professor David Forliti

“Particle image velocimetry has become one of the most impactful instruments for exploring the dynamics of flowing fluids. The system operates via tracking the motion of particles added to the fluid which are illuminated by a laser sheet and imaged using digital cameras,” Forliti said. “The tracking of the particles allows for detailed measurement of the velocity field in fluid flows, enabling the investigation of flows in engineering applications as well in the natural environment. The funding amount of $425K will enable the acquisition of an advanced system that makes time-resolved measurements as well as the measurement of all three components of the velocity field within a measurement plane.”

Research is planned in the areas of energy and transportation, combustion instability in liquid rocket engines, microbubble flows for drag reduction on ships and in pipelines, energy harvesting, and validation of modeling and simulation tools. Collaborations with faculty at the University of Minnesota and Dunwoody College of Technology are also planned. The instrument will be leveraged in the development of competitive federal/state grant proposals as well as foster collaborations with industry partners. Additional broader impacts include the use of the instrument in multiple undergraduate and graduate courses as well as outreach activities.