Ongoing research projects

IMMC

Ongoing research projects in iMMC (February 2020)


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: Energy




Conducted disturbances in the frequency range 2-150 kHz
Researcher: Caroline Leroi
Supervisor(s): Emmanuel De Jaeger

During last decades, the power grid has changed significantly. The main among various causes of this change is the increasing number of devices using power electronics. These devices include switches with frequency commutation located between 2kHz and 150kHz. Besides the Power Line Carrier (PLC) which is a means of communication using the existing power network works also in this frequency range. Therefore, there is a coexistence of intentional and unintentional emissions in this frequency band while the standardization which is supposed to regulate the emission of the disturbances and the immunity of sensitive devices is currently almost non-existent for this frequency band.
In this context, the aim of this PhD thesis is to contribute to a better understanding of the origin, the propagation and the impact of the disturbances in the frequency range 2-150 kHz. It is important to gather knowledge in order to set appropriate limits in the standards.
Several observations have already been made through measurements in the litterature. However, there is a lack of theoretical explanation. In this thesis, models of disturbances sources are developed as well as models of grid components. These models will allow us to study the propagation and to understand which parameters influence the level of disturbances.
Models are developed in Matlab Simulink environment and more specifically with the SimPowerSystems toolbox. Results will also be validated through experiments.



Impacts of energy efficiency and energy availability on economic growth
Researcher: Elise Dupont
Supervisor(s): Hervé Jeanmart

I am working on the link between energy availability and accessibility and economic growth. To do so, I study the concept of Energy Return on Investment (EROI), which is the ratio of the energy that is produced by an energy conversion device throughout its lifetime to all the energy inputs that were invested from the extraction of raw materials to the end-of-life treatment of the facility. It is the best indicator to assess the quality and sustainability of an energy project, without any economic distorsion. Easy access to high EROI resources allowed our modern societies to develop their economic activities. However, even taking into account the technological progress, the amount of high EROI resources is decreasing because : (i) EROI of fossil fuels is declining over time, (ii) renewable alternatives have lower EROIs than traditional fossil fuels and (iii) EROI of renewable alternatives is declining with their spatial expansion.

I am developing a methodology to estimate the dynamic function for the evolution of the EROI of different renewable energy sources (wind, solar and biomass) with the cumulated annual production, in order to be able to accurately estimate the evolution of the EROI of the future energy system.



GTherm
Researcher: Geoffrey Roy
Supervisor(s): Pascal Jacques

Geoffrey holds a Master in Mechatronic Engineering (2010) and a PhD in Engineering (2015) from the Université catholique de Louvain where he works as a senior researcher at the Institute of Mechanics, Materials and Civil Engineering (iMMC).
Within the Division of Materials and Process Engineering (IMAP), his research is focused on the development of new thermoelectric materials and systems for a range of applications going from industrial waste heat recovery to autonomous powering of smart sensors. In his research, he pays particular attention to the development of new solutions that present improved both technical and economical profiles in order to facilitate the emergence of these solutions out of the lab.
This research is followed by several companies such as: Drever International, AGC Glass Europe, Carmeuse or Engie.



Aerostream and IAWATHA (additive manufacturing), LOCOTED (thermoelectrics)
Researcher: Camille van der Rest
Supervisor(s): Pascal Jacques, Aude Simar

Camille van der Rest completed her PhD thesis on the optimisation of Heusler Fe2VAl-based thermoelectric compounds through innovative metallurgical processing in 2015. It was under the joint supervision of Prof. Pascal Jacques and Prof. Aude Simar. Her research topics now concern thermoelectric materials, additive manufacturing and friction stir processing technologies. Concerning thermoelectrics, the main objective is the development of low-cost, non-toxic, and powerful materials that could be used in large-scale industrial applications of heat recovery. In addition, she studies some fundamental aspects in order to improve the performances of such materials, i.e. ordering phenomena in off-stoichiometric Fe2VAl-based Heusler compounds. It is essential to make the link between (innovative) manufacturing processes, microstructures and the functional properties of these TE materials. Concerning additive manufacturing, the main contributions are on the characterisation and optimisation of the microstructures and the mechanical behaviour of Al parts obtained by Selective Laser Melting and the developpment of new materials for additive manufacturing. Again, the link between the process parameters and the final microstructure/properties is a key issue. Finally, Camille developed, together with Prof. Aude Simar and Prof. Pascal Jacques, a novel Friction Melt Bonding (FMB) process in order to weld aluminium alloys and steels. This process is still under development thanks to the collaboration with other researchers of IMAP.



BIODEC, STOCC
Researcher: Audrey Favache
Supervisor(s): Thomas Pardoen

obtained a PhD degree in the domain of process control in 2009 at Université catholique de Louvain (Belgium), after having graduated there as chemical engineer in 2005. Since then, she is working as a "senior" researcher on several applied research projects in collaboration with the industry in the domain of mechanics of materials. More particularly, she is interested in the link between the mechanical properties of the individual components of a complex system and the global mechanical response of this system. She applied this approach to the framework of tribology and contact mechanics for understanding the scratch resistance of coatings and multilayered systems. Her work covers both experimental aspects and finite element simulations.



HyFlux
Researcher: Quentin de Radiguès de Chennevières
Supervisor(s): Joris Proost

is working in the field of the energy transition. In order to increase the share of renewable energies, new ways of storing electricity have to be developed. Hydrogen has the advantage to be able to store energy over a long time while it can be used as fuel for vehicles. In his Ph.D. thesis on Process Intensification in electrochemical reactors defended in december 2016, he has developed a new technology to reduced the cost of alcaline water electrolysis for hydrogen production. He is now applying this technology on a pilot plant scale.



Techno-economic viability of variable-speed pumped-storage hydropower based on centrifugal pumps used as turbines
Researcher: Thomas Mercier
Supervisor(s): Emmanuel De Jaeger

This research takes place in the frame of SmartWater, a 3.5-year research project funded by the Walloon region, Belgium, and whose goal is to investigate the conversion of former mines and quarries into pumped-storage hydropower (PSH) sites, taking advantage of existing cavities. The project involves several academic and industrial partners, among which Laborelec, Electrabel and Cofely, as well as sponsors, including Ores, Elia, Charmeuse and Ensival-Moret. The SmartWater project is divided in several work packages, ranging from the geological study of potential mines and quarries, to the economical and electromechanical aspects of pumped-storage hydropower.



Stability performance analysis and control of islanded microgrids
Researcher: Guy Wanlongo Ndiwulu
Supervisor(s): Emmanuel De Jaeger

Nowadays the discussions about electric energy systems are generally focused on the system reliability and valorisation of renewable energies. Thereby, several means are investigated in order to achieve its goals, among which we have microgrids. These latter are considered as electrical subsystems with distributed energy generators, energy storage devices and loads, able to operate with connection to the main grid or in islanded mode. This electrical system technology is very different compared to the conventional power systems. Because the interfaced power converters based distributed sources characterize them. This is making the microgrid controllability and stability depending of power converters.
The main contribution of this project is to propose a control strategy able to maintain the voltage amplitude and frequency in the allowable range in the cases of islanded microgrids fed by miscellaneous micro-sources (photovoltaic, small hydropower and diesel generator) and energy storage devices such as batteries. The developed control strategy is tested with Matlab/Simulink.



BEST
Researcher: Véronique Dias
Supervisor(s): Hervé Jeanmart

obtained her PhD at UCL in 2003, then worked as Postdoctoral Researcher at the Laboratoire de Physico-Chimie de la Combustion (Faculty of Science). In 2009, she moved to the Institute of Mechanics, Materials and Civil Engineering, and since 2012, she has a position of Research Associate. In 2015, she obtained her HDR (Habilitation à Diriger la Recherche) at the Université of Orléans (France).
Her research interests cover the combustion and kinetics of alternative fuels by the elaboration of kinetic models for hydrocarbons and oxygenated species. These projects in combustion include both experimental and numerical parts. They are contributions to the IEA (International Energy Agency) Implementing Agreement for Energy Conservation and Emission Reduction in Combustion.
In 2016-2018, Véronique Dias also worked on a project on energy storage, and more specifically, in chemical form.
In the BEST project, she holds the management and coordination that support all the activities to be developed during the project by providing the necessary tools, methods and governing structure.



Energy system modelisation
Researcher: Gauthier Limpens
Supervisor(s): Hervé Jeanmart

The transition towards more sustainable, fossil-free energy systems is interlinked with a high penetration of stochastic renewables, such as wind and solar.
Integrating these new energy resources and technologies will lead to profound structural changes in energy systems, such as an increasing need for storage and a radical electrifcation of the heating and mobility sectors.
To capture the increasing complexity of such future energy systems, new
flexible and open-source optimization modelling tools are needed.
In collaboration with EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne), we develop EnergyScope, a new open-source energy model for strategic energy planning of urban and national energy systems.
We applied our methodolgy to Switzerland and Belgium. The next steps will be to apply it to more countries, create an educational interface for citizens and policy makers or apply the model for uncertainty characterisation.



Development and qualification of irradiation tolerant tungsten and novel toughness-enhanced composites for fusion applications
Researcher: Chao Yin
Supervisor(s): Thomas Pardoen

This research aims at investigation of the radiation damage and post-irradiation mechanical-thermal behavior of tungsten. Tungsten selected as the first wall armor and Tungsten-based composites for structural applications in DEMO are expected to receive doses up to 20 dpa (Fe) (for the EARLY DEMO) or even higher (full power DEMO) [1]. Under these conditions, the mechanical properties of the materials are known to degrade radically due to (i) neutron irradiation, (ii) heat transients, (iii) plasma gas uptake and (iv) nuclear transmutation. Thus, this investigation is called by the need to validate the performance of novel and baseline garde tungsten. This project will include the experiemental study of reference and irradiated materials carried out by mechanical test and microstructure investigation.



Use of flexibility given by electrical consumers on a pilot distribution grid
Researcher: Didier Forclaz
Supervisor(s): Emmanuel De Jaeger

This research concerns the use of flexibility that can be given by the individual consumers in their electrical consumption. The focus is on integrating renewable energies into the distribution grid.



Improvement of gas quality in small-scale biomass gasification facilities through steam injection
Researcher: Arnaud Rouanet
Supervisor(s): Hervé Jeanmart

Biomass, as a renewable fuel, can be converted in a gasifier to produce a synthetic gas that is easier to transport and has a wider range of applications than solid biomass, including bio-fuels, chemicals or energy production.
In order to improve the quality of the produced gases, we will investigate how steam can be used instead of air as the oxidizing agent, to limit the syngas dilution with inert nitrogen and increase its heating value. The project will focus on improving an existing small-scale two-stage gasification unit owned by UCL, on which ad-hoc modifications will be brought and experimental campaigns will be performed.
Theoretical calculations and literature reviews will be performed to confirm and precise the potential for improvement of syngas composition. The design and ideal location of steam injection points will be studied, and experiments will be conducted on the modified gasifier to complement the theoretical calculations. Advanced tools and methods will be used for the characterisation of the syngas composition, to increase the accuracy of the experimental results. Finally, a numerical model of the gasification process will possibly come as complement for a more accurate prediction and confirmation of the experimental results.
This research project will take place in the frame of the project ENERBIO, in collaboration with ULB, UMons and CRA-W.