

CURRENT RESEARCH INTERESTS
Parallel and Vector Computation for Chemical
Process Design
Computer aided design in chemical engineering has emphasized
numerical solution of large sets of algebraic and differential
equations that describe the process. Solution techniques for
such large sets of equations usually concentrate on decomposing
the problem for iterative solution. A sequentialmodular
decomposition for iterative solution, however, also partitions
the large set of equations in way suitable for parallel
computation. In addition, the equations describing a typical
module often take a vector form allowing further optimization
vector computers.
Initial research on parallel and vector computation would
take place in two areas. The first area would concentrate on
modular process design systems. Problem decomposition for
parallel processing would be based on the process unit. In
addition, process units would provide a basis for computational
objects. Object oriented programming techniques would also
contribute to the parallel computational decomposition. The
second area would focus on solution of transport continuum
equations. Finite difference and finite element solution of
PDE's both generate large sets of algebraic equations suited to
vector and parallel computation.
Visualization for Chemical Process Analysis
Rapid developments of computer hardware will cause a
significant qualitative change in the chemical process design
cycle. Computers play a strong role in solving the analytical
equations describing the chemical process. These results are
analyzed as individual case studies in an iterative design cycle.
The analysis cycle in chemical engineering design is just
beginning to make significant use of the rapidly developing
capabilities of CAD systems. The ability to provide rapid
graphical displays will greatly aid in the intuitive
understanding of the process under analysis. Developing this
understanding would be especially important in the educational
setting. The displays would illustrate how material properties
influence the transport processes that control chemical
processes. For example, a proper graphic presentation can show
the distinction between homogeneous and nonhomogeneous
materials. In addition, the display can show differences in
isotropic and anisotropic transport processes. Research in this
area would closely follow the above research on parallel
processing for continuum equations. The methods developed would
serve an educational role in teaching transport phenomena.
Multiphase Processes in Chemical Processing
Many processes in chemical technology involve multiphase
systems in which heat and mass transfer occurs between phases.
These operations depend on the particle size area resulting from
the individual particle interactions. Typical operations with
multiphase systems include coal and hydrocarbon spray combustion,
emulsification and polymerization, crystallization, liquid
atomization, and fluidization. Fundamental understanding of
particle interactions would be useful for understanding such
processes. This research area would include both theoretical and
experimental studies.
The particle size distribution of a multiphase process
depends on the individual particle dynamics averaged over the
entire particle population. The population balance equation
(PBE) models the effects of particle processes such as breakage,
agglomeration, entrance, and exit from a control volume. In its
most general form, the PBE completely describes the particle
population in nonhomogeneous systems. Solution of the PBE,
however, must rely on numerical methods for most systems. The
theoretical aspect of this work would concentrate on variational
methods for solution of the integrodifferential PBE. In
addition, Monte Carlo methods would also be considered for
modeling the PBE.
Experimental studies would require development of
experimental equipment to study drop breakup by high speed
photography of atomizing sprays. In addition, a fluidized bed
would be developed for analysis of systems with minimal particle
breakage and agglomeration. Online instrumentation would
measure and control the desired fluidization conditions. The
online measurements would include fluidization velocity, bed depth,
bed pressure drop, and material loss rates. Additional offline
analysis of the materials fed to and collected from the fluidized
bed would be performed to determine material properties such as
particle size, density, and morphology.
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Last revised on September 14, 1998
Gregory W. Smith (WD9GAY)
To comment, please email
gsmith@well.com
