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Investigating Flow Systems
Christopher White, associate professor of mechanical engineering, is working to improve predictive engineering modeling for complex flow systems, including heat transfer in piston engines, rapid flow-induced erosion of materials, flow behaviors of liquefied biomass, and the atmospheric transport of volcanic ash. White’s research group has received funding from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy to develop facilities including a still-air particle drop and a thermal boundary layer wind tunnel. An NSF Science Nation video featuring White’s research with volcanologist Dork Sahagian of Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA, was filmed in the UNH Flow Physics Facility and can be viewed at: http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/science_nation/volcanicash.jsp.
The NSF EPSCoR RII award (2007-2011) provided partial funding for the creation of the largest wind tunnel in the world, the UNH Flow Physics Facility, an experimental facility for development and testing of sensing, prediction, actuation and control technologies.
This wind tunnel, measuring 73 meters in length, generates high Reynolds number boundary layer turbulence of interest in aerodynamics research and atmospheric and marine research in both the military and civilian scientific communities.
Many important processes and devices operate in Reynolds number regimes currently inaccessible for controlled study. These include atmospheric surface layer phenomena, benthic processes and the flow over “big ticket” items such as aircraft and submarines. Anticipated applications of this wind tunnel’s capabilities include global climate change, energy, defense, and propulsion technologies.