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BERG: Belmont Energy Research Group

Research

ONGOING RESEARCH PROJECTS


Low pressure flame characterization:

Detailed species and temperature measurements can be taken within flames at low pressures because increased diffusivity leads to thickening of flames. Work to-date has included investigations of high temperature (hot) flames of methane, ethylene, heptane, and toluene flames, and low temperature (cool) flames of dimethyl ether (DME). Comparison of experimental measurements with numerical flame simulations is conducted to evaluate and develop chemical kinetics models.

Low pressure flame characterization at the University of Wyoming

A schematic of the experimental apparatus is shown, with images of freely propagating DME cool flames at lean and stoichiometric equivalence ratios (ϕ) of 0.6 and 1.0, taken with a Nikon D90 camera and lens using a shutter speed of 4 seconds and an aperture of f/1.8.

Biomass utilization:

Biomass, including wood, grasses, and crops, can be considered carbon neutral when carefully managed because of their relatively rapid regrowth times, during which carbon released during their utilization is resequestered. Work to date has focused on bark beetle-killed wood from Wyoming forests for co-combustion with coal with an emphasis on co-combustion of these fuels for power production, and utilization of rapid-growing grasses as ecologically friendly fuel. Measurement of conversion rates and product gases are key aspects of experimental investigation.

Biomass utilization at the University of Wyoming

Raw and pretreated solid fuels, including pulverized Powder River Basin coal and beetle-kill lodgepole pine sawdust, are shown. Pretreatment techniques, include mild pyrolysis called torrefaction, alters the raw wood such that it more closely resembles coal in composition and conversion.

Supercritical extraction:

Extraction of high value chemicals from coal and biomass in supercritical CO2 is being investigated for alternative utilization of these resources. Effects of modifiers to enhance and alter extracts are being explored. Extracts are identified and quantified by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), and morphological changes to the post-extraction solid material are characterized. Co-processing of coal and biomass is being explored and compared to processing of isolated feedstocks.

Biomass utilization at the University of Wyoming

Graduate student Luke Provart is shown conducting supercritical CO2 extraction of coal in a high pressure and high temperature chamber. Gas and liquid extracts are separated from the processed feedstocks before analysis by GC-MS.

Renewable crops for developing countries:

Renewable crops can be utilized for heat and power production instead of biomass such as wood, which is slower to regenerate. Such crops can therefore help to stem deforestation, but a viable technical path to utilization needs to be developed. In collaboration with the University of Portland, BERG is conducting technoeconomic analyses and experimental characterization of fast growing crops to replace woody biomass use in developing countries.

Biomass utilization at the University of Wyoming

A custom-built pyrolysis reactor which allows for bench-scale processing of biomass and other solid fuels is shown. Closed-loop temperature control and vapor collection systems permit characterization of evolved oils and gases during the pyrolysis process.

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Mechanical engineering is the broadest of all engineering disciplines, dealing with solid mechanics, fluid dynamics, aerodynamics, heat transfer, energy conversion, vibration, design, manufacturing, controls, materials science and electromechanical systems. Mechanical engineers are employed in almost every industry. If a design has moving parts or if energy is converted, a mechanical engineer was involved. Learn more or download our brochure.

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