Skip to Navigation Skip to Page Content

Office of Naval Research grants MU faculty funds for flow system research

A recent grant from the U.S. Department of Defense will fund an MU College of Engineering research team to get an up close and personal look at the flow patterns of particles in fluids.

Diagram of camera positions for a PIV system

Here is a diagram of various camera positions for a particle image velocimetry (PIV) system, which combines the use of two high-powered cameras and a double-pulsed laser to judge the velocity and flow pattern of particles in fluids. Photo courtesy of C.L. Chen.

C.L. Chen, Simon Chen, and Guoliang Huang, faculty members from the MU Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, recently received an award from the Office of Naval Research Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) to purchase and assemble a particle image velocimetry (PIV) system, which combines the use of two high-powered cameras and a double-pulsed laser to judge the velocity and flow pattern of particles in fluids.

DURIP, according to the ONR, funds research at the university level relevant to U.S. Department of Defense interests. It does this by providing funds for research tools and instruments that can be used to complete critical research.

The PIV system uses measurement tools known as seeder particles, placed in whatever type of fluid is being studied. The particles move along the flow field, or the way the fluid moves in given conditions, and the system captures the movement of the particles to account for the velocity and direction of the flow.

“Those particles, when they have a laser shining on them, you can see their trajectory,” Chen explained. “You can measure velocity in the field as well.”

“We have a high-speed camera with a fast frame rate, and a high-speed laser. And we would need the software to analyze that data. … It also works to generate a three-dimensional velocity field.”

Chen’s work focuses on flow control and microfluidics, particularly in the realm of thermal management. He’s been working to acquire a PIV system since he joined MU in 2011, and it has several potential applications for his work.

“Looking at electrowetting, controlling the [water] bubble [used to cool electronic components], I wonder how the bursting bubble disturbs the flow,” he said. “Internal flow, external flow, microfluidics. We also have an ongoing program looking at agitating meta-structures.”

Chen and one of his team members, Simon Chen, said they plan to have the system up and running in January, following the December completion of the Lafferre Hall renovation. C.L. Chen is currently looking for potential collaborators on additional research that can benefit from the use of a PIV system, and he said there are several potential applications.

“One of our projects focuses on flow control, so we will need a PIV for that,” he explained. “Maybe people doing biomedical research, where microfluidics have such a wide range of applications — if they want to observe micro-scale mixing, they can use it for that… I think a lot of professors may try to do some project and may need this kind of capability.”