Ongoing research projects

IMMC

Ongoing research projects in iMMC (January 2023)


This a short description of research projects which are presently under progress in iMMC.
Hereunder, you may select one research direction or choose to apply another filter:

Biomedical engineering

Computational science

Civil and environmental engineering

Dynamical and electromechanical systems

Energy

Fluid mechanics

Processing and characterisation of materials

Chemical engineering

Solid mechanics


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List of projects related to: fluid structure interaction




AI-based control policies towards efficient collective behaviours of flow agents and their application to fish schooling
Researcher: Denis Dumoulin
Supervisor(s): Philippe Chatelain

The principal objective is to shed light on mechanisms allowing anguiliform swimmers to swim very efficiently either on their own or in group.
Simulations rely on an unsteady panel method with vortex shedding and on reinforcement learning.



Influence of soil saturation on earthen embankments failure by overtopping
Researcher: Nathan Delpierre
Supervisor(s): Sandra Soares Frazao, Hadrien Rattez

In the current context of climate change and aging infrastructure, the failure of earthen dikes is becoming a
critical issue. Dikes have an essential protection role in flood defense, coastal protection or for the storage of
mining industry waste. The objective of the research is to develop and validate a simulation model to take into
account the effect of
saturation of the dike material on its stability when it is subjected to overtopping flows, which alone cause 34%
of failures (Costa, 1985). For this purpose, a complete simulation model will be developed, taking into account
the internal and external flows as well as the erosion and the consequences on the evolution of the stability of
the dam. The originality of this project lies in the multidisciplinary approach that takes into account the
evolution of the dike both from a hydraulic and hydrogeological point of view (water content, flow velocity and
surface erosion) but also from the point of view of the geomechanics and thus of the intrinsic stability of the
dike. Laboratory experiments will be carried out in order to validate the model experimentally. At this level, the
novelty brought by this project is the control of the evolution of the water content of the dike in real time with
pressure gauges and tensiometers. The acquired data will allow to calibrate the model and to confirm the key
role of the initial saturation in the dam failure.
Finally, based on the critical characteristics defined in terms of dike saturation, a study on large-scale
monitoring techniques will be carried out. In particular, the possibility of using technologies such as
photogrammetry or GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar) to determine the degree of saturation of a soil will be
investigated in the context of dike monitoring.



2-phase CFD simulations of electrolyte-bubble interactions during alkaline water electrolysis
Researcher: Kevin Van Droogenbroek
Supervisor(s): Joris Proost

In today’s world, concern is growing about the future of energy. Despite very ambitious international climate goals by 2050, global energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions keep increasing. In order to tackle this problem, hydrogen (H2) seems to be the right solution since it is a way to produce, store, move and use energy in a clean way. However, 95% of the actual hydrogen production is made of grey hydrogen, e.g. H2 produced from fossil energies, which leads to high CO2 emissions in the atmosphere. One way to decarbonise this energy vector is to produce green hydrogen by means of renewable energies (solar panels, wind turbines, etc). This is where my research project funded by the Walloon region comes in, focusing on the production of green hydrogen by alkaline water electrolysis (AWE).

In general, AWE is characterised by the use of two planar electrodes separated by a certain distance and operating in a liquid alkaline electrolyte solution (e.g. KOH, potassium hydroxide). However, the efficiency of the process can be improved by the use of 3D electrodes in a zero-gap cell configuration. This configuration is the one that will be used in the scope of this research and it is depicted in Figure 1. The chemical reactions taking place at the cathode and at the anode are also highlighted.

More specifically, the work will consist in the fluid mechanical modeling of liquid and gaseous flows within alkaline electrolysis cells filled with 3D porous structures. The study of liquid electrolyte flow and of gaseous hydrogen bubble formation and escape will allow to optimise the performance of the electrolyser. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is a powerful numerical tool that will be used during this project to determine the optimal flow parameters required to homogenise the electrolyte flow (to take advantage of the full specific area provided by the electrodes) while favouring hydrogen bubbles removal from the electrolysis cell (to avoid bubble entrapment within the complex 3D structure).

As an example, the added value of a numerical simulation for a better understanding of the electrolyte flux distribution within an empty cell (e.g. without 3D structure) is shown in Figure 2. The velocity field of the electrolyte (in m/s) was simulated on the OpenFOAM software. Note that the geometry of the cell corresponds to the one of the pilot electrolyser used at UCLouvain (see Figure 3).