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NMSU mechanical, aerospace department head receives National Science Foundation award

Ruey-Hung Chen, mechanical and aerospace engineering department head in New Mexico State University’s College of Engineering, has received a National Science Foundation award for $352,524.


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New Mexico State University Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department Head Ruey-Hung Chen has received a $352,524 award from the National Science Foundation for his research project, “Study of evaporation, micro-explosion, and combustion of nanofluid fuel droplets.” (Courtesy photo)

His three-year project, “Study of evaporation, micro-explosion, and combustion of nanofluid fuel droplets,” began in August.

“I am very glad to receive the funding from NSF,” said Chen, who joined the NMSU faculty in spring 2016. “NSF funds principal investigator-driven ideas and has a gold standard of review processes of federal agencies. To be able to be awarded for one’s research idea is certainly very gratifying.”

Chen’s project studies the evaporation of liquid droplets that contain nano-size particles.

“Depending on the relative mobility of the particles and the liquid evaporation rate, the particles would eventually form a relatively solid aggregate or hollow shell,” he said.

“It also sheds light on how a metalized liquid propellant would burn – whether the particles would burn along with the liquid or after the liquid is burned. The metal particles in metalized propellants usually are energetic, more energetic than the liquid fuel, for enhanced rocket performance.”

Industries such as food processing, pharmaceutical manufacturing and drug delivery could benefit from the results of this research project. For example, manufacturing pharmaceutical powders involves evaporating liquid and the effects could determine if medications could be easily inhaled or ingested.

Chen’s research project also will study burning fuels containing particles, such as heavy fuel oils or rocket propellants, which involves a similar evaporation process.

“In the case of burning fuels, the shape and density of the particle aggregates also affect the means and effectiveness with which particles are captured to minimize pollutant emissions,” he said. “In this project, effects of particle size and concentration on liquid evaporation and burning will be characterized. The effort will be mainly experimental, aided by theoretical analysis for a full understanding of the evaporation, burning and aggregate formation mechanisms.”

Chen said he hopes to learn if different combinations or liquid type, particle and particle size would lead to different burning processes.

“I hope the results from this project would shed some rule/scheme for designing the liquid-particle pairs for a wide variety of applications,” he said.

To assist Chen with this research project, the NSF award will fund a doctoral student for three years along with one or two undergraduate students.