NSF CAREER Award, 2017-2022
The prestigious CAREER Program, which was launched in 1996, provides support to junior faculty members and encourages the combining of research and education. Applicants submit a proposal that includes research and education plans. Awardees receive various amounts of funding, typically ranging from around $400,00 to $500,000, for a period of five years.
Assistant Professor Pepiot received a 5-yr, 501,233 award from the Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems (CBET), NSF.
Award Abstract #1653609
CAREER: Enabling fuel design and optimization: a comprehensive approach to capture multi-component chemistry effects in large-scale combustion simulations of complex fuels
Abstract: Liquid fuel combustion is central to many human activities, most importantly transportation, and is expected to remain so in the foreseeable future. However, the fuel landscape is drastically changing due to the introduction of alternative and bio-derived fuels. This change provides new opportunities to design more efficient fuel blends for advanced combustion technologies, and help mitigate the environmental impact of combustion. This project will develop an integrated approach to understand, model, and eventually leverage interactions between fuel molecular components during combustion, with the long-term goal to enable a better control of the combustion chemistry process and explore alternative engine concepts. The central outcomes of this effort are 1) a significant leap forward in our ability to reliably capture and analyze complex chemical processes in numerical simulations of combustion systems, 2) an open-source software package containing practical chemistry tools to maximize impact on the Computational Fluid Dynamics community, and 3) a new community-based curriculum in Computational Science and Engineering (CSE). The latter effort confronts known key barriers in increasing gender diversity in computational engineering careers, thereby directly impacting the number of young professionals in the field, and addressing the significant, yet currently unmet, needs for programmers in CSE.
The proposed research and education program aims at drastically improving the state of understanding of multi-component chemistry effects in large-scale simulations of turbulent reactive systems. This will be accomplished by 1) using innovative tracking capabilities inspired by experimental isotopic labeling to characterize and quantify specific chemical species interactions during combustion simulations, 2) develop new paradigms for automatic chemical model reduction to address the observed limitations of current methods for multi-component systems, and 3) enable feedback from complex flow simulation results to be integrated in multi-component kinetics network analysis and model reduction. The methodology will be demonstrated by investigating the role of chemical interactions in doped flames using simulations. The research efforts will serve as the main platform to develop and deploy a training program for CFD experts to become proficient in creating and assessing the strengths and limitations of reduced chemical models tailored to their specific needs. Those efforts will also be central to the development of an innovative community-based curriculum and mentoring network to involve students in scientific computing research and activities very early in the curriculum, targeting the age groups shown to influence the most the predilection of students, especially girls, for computational projects and careers.