ERC Consolidator Grant for better energy conversion

News - 10 December 2019 - Communication

TU Delft researcher Dr. Rene Pecnik has been awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant. These European grants (approximately 2 million euros per project) are awarded to projects that last five years.

Systems for converting energy, whether it is a solar power plant or a rocket engine, are constantly being improved and made more efficient. One of the developments is the use of fluids at ever higher temperatures and pressures. This often pushes the fluids into the so-called supercritical region, where very non-ideal thermodynamic effects occur.

However, our fundamental knowledge of flow physics under such conditions still leaves much to be desired, which is holding back the advance of new technology. Especially the sharp changes of all thermodynamic properties around the critical point and the high optical density at supercritical pressure, lead to extremely complex and 'rich' physical phenomena.

According to Pecnik (faculty 3mE), systematic research is therefore needed involving thermodynamics, fluid mechanics and radiation sciences. Pecnik's research will be unique in this respect and combines advanced hydrodynamic stability analysis, new multi-physics simulation tools and novel experiments with infrared thermography to identify and characterise new flow physics in the supercritical region.

The results will clarify when and how flows in the non-ideal region turn into turbulence, how strong compressibility affects turbulent heat transfer and how the higher optical density of a fluid is associated with turbulence. Unravelling these mechanisms will contribute to the success of a wide range of emerging technologies.

More information

Press release ERC

My ERC grant will allow me to perform the first study of its kind, combining advanced hydrodynamic stability analysis, novel simulation tools, and original experiments to identify and characterize new flow physics of supercritical fluids.