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Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
Prof. Matthew Johnson - Energy & Emissions Research Lab


Research Interests / Current Projects

  • Pollutant emissions of soot and fine particulate

Emissions of Particulate Matter (PM) have been identified by the federal government as a major environmental and engineering challenge for the near future and is linked to serious health effects in humans and animals, adverse effects in plants, and environmental damage. Currently I have a number of projects related to understanding, quantifying and controlling PM emissions. These projects all involve close collaboration with the National Research Council (NRC) and are supported by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), Environment Canada, the Petroleum Technology Alliance of Canada (PTAC), and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). Specific sub-projects include:

  • Novel optical diagnostics for sampling PM in plumes
  • Experimental and numerical investigation of soot formation in multicomponent fuels
  • Soot formation in turbulent diffusion flames relevant to flaring in the upstream oil and gas industry
  • Efficiency and greenhouse gas emission models for gas flares in the energy industry

An estimated 150 billion cubic meters of natural gas are flared or vented worldwide each year.  Despite the prevalence flares, accurate quantification of their emissions has remained elusive due to the complexities and difficulties of the flow configuration.  Our recent work has helped make significant progress in understanding the combustion efficiency of flares through the identification of the "fuel stripping mechanism" for combustion inefficiency.  Current challenges are centered on developing better emissions models and incorporating these into novel statistical approaches to predicting total greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Aerodynamic Stability of Ultra-lean premixed flames

Lean premixed flames have long been identified as a means to achieving ultra-low levels of harmful pollutants such as oxides of nitrogen (NOx).  Using stereo particle image velocimetry (PIV), we are studying flame stabilization using a novel low-swirl burner design initially developed at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.  Results look particularly promising for the adaptation of this technology into next generation gas turbines.

  • Delivery of Inhaled Medical Aerosols

The fluid mechanics of aerosol generation, transport, and deposition are complex both experimentally and numerically.  Although inhaled medical aerosols are widely used (e.g. asthma inhalers), significant challenges remain for understanding and improving their efficacy. Using advanced experimental techniques such as stereo particle image velocimetry and particle sizing techniques coupled with computational fluid dynamics, we are conducting a range of research from developing better delivery technologies to understanding and quantifying deposition.

  • Coherent structure of low-momentum jets in crossflow

The jet in crossflow is one of the fundamental problems in fluid mechanics but full understanding of the generation and interaction of coherent structures from an elevated jet remains elusive.  Using innovative water channel based visualization and experimental techniques, we are investigating the structure of low momentum jets in crossflow.  Results of this fundamental work are relevant to a wide variety of practical applications including dispersion of pollutants, "fuel stripping" from flares, and fluid mixing.

  • Other projects

As always, research and understanding continue to evolve and other potential projects are in early phases of development.  A few of these diverse projects include novel optical diagnostics and computational fluid dynamic (CFD) techniques for detection of fugitive emissions, flame propagation in stratified flows as a means to developing highly efficient combustion engines, and residential-scale co-generation of heat and electricity using biofuel powered Stirling engines  I am particularly interested in applications of advanced experimental techniques and through collaborations with colleagues at National Research Council (NRC), Natural Resources Canada, Carleton University, and others; there are always additional opportunities for potential graduate students!

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