Energy and Environment Thrust Ongoing Featured Projects

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Recommendations for revision of AASHTO M295 standard specification to include marginal and unconventional source coal fly ashes

PIs: Drs. Douglas Hooton, Lisa Burris, Prannoy Suraneni, and Christopher Shearer

Funding Agency: National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP)

In this project, a variety of ‘unconventional’ fly ashes are studied, with the ultimate objective of including these ashes in US fly ash specifications. Work at the University of Miami focuses on fly ash characterization, reactivity and its influencing factors, and the development of new test methods to measure reactivity. We have suggested changes to the current specifications, shown that unconventional fly ashes behave largely similar to conventional fly ashes, explained the behavior of size-fractionated fly ashes, and developed multiple reactivity test methods that correctly differentiate inert and reactive materials.

Towards Self-Healing Resilient Microgrids Using Data Driven Methods

PIs: Dr. Nurcin Celik (PI), Drs. Jie Xu and Dr. Chun-Hung Chen from George Mason University (coPIS)

Funding Agency: Air Force Office of Sponsored Research (AFOSR)

In this work, we investigate a mutual relationship between multiple micgrid clusters in order to achieve a predetermined goal of the system, especially under abnormal system conditions (i.e., sensor faults, emergent weather events etc.). Resiliency of such clusters against system anomalies or power events depends heavily on their self-healing capabilities. These capabilities define the series of actions that need to be taken to mitigate the effects of power outages and bring a faulty system back to health conditions. Yet, wider scope of parameters complicates the problem of determining (near) optimal decisions due to the associated computational burden considering the massive amount of data that need to be processed. In this study, the team is investigating various self-healing capabilities of such microgrids while considering conflicting system objectives under the various aspects of data driven systems analysis.

Use of Virtual Flow Meters for Building Environmental Systems – Energy Efficiency Improvements

PIs: Dr.Gang Wang and Dr. Esber Andiroglu

Deploying prototypes allows CAE professors to continually improve upon their ideas. Here, this virtual flow meter mini-converter helps improve energy optimization and thermal comfort in buildings while also enabling timely fault detection and reliable system operation. Virtual Flow Meter technology has been put to use for staging and energy optimization of parallel pump systems for wastewater conveyance, in collaboration with Miami-Dade County Water & Sewer Department at wastewater pump station #26, located in Doral, Florida.

Built Environment and Pandemics

PIs: Dr. Esber Andiroglu and Dr. Pratim Biswas

Funding Agency: International Code Council and National Environmental Health Association

The International Code Council in partnership with National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) is currently doing a review of research materials to inform future building codes in a post-covid world. CAE Professor and PhD students are actively involved with leading and contributing insight in how to effectively identify and implement codes to improve building and occupant health.

Landfill Gas to Electricity

PIs: Michael Swain

The costs of recycling landfill gas for energy can be impacted by the presence of minor constituents. The method we are pursuing, to better understand maintenance costs is to operate a small engine at a given landfill site to determine the actual deposits forming in an engine at that site. We have completed all the major components of the engine and trailer. This summer the team completed the last major component, the intake manifold for the three power producing cylinders.

Design and Manufacturing of Thermoelectric Conversion Systems

PIs: Emrah Celik

Funding Agency: This project focuses on unique design of thermoelectric systems (Annular/Segmented Unileg), more efficient waste heat-electricity conversion (less CO2 emission), novel applications (i.e. converting oil heat into electricity in automobiles), and additive manufacturing of thermoelectric systems into complex geometries.

Built Environment and Pandemics

Green Energy: Ultra-High Efficiency Low-Cost Wind Turbines Enabled by CoFlow Jet

PIs: Gecheng Zha

We are developing downwind turbine technology enabled by CoFLow Jet (CFJ) active flow control with the power scale from 20 KW to 25 MW and larger. The goal is to dramatically improve efficiency (Capacity Factor) by at least 20% and reduce turbine life long energy cost by at least 40%. We aim to transform the wind turbine industry and greatly impact the global environment protection initiatives by reducing green house gas emission and fresh water usage.

Chemical-Free Nutrient Recovery: Next-Generation Energy-Positive Net-Zero Water Treatment

PIs: James Englehardt, Esber Andiroglu

Funding Agency: Electric Power Research Institute

Water chemistry is controlled by pH, and control of pH for water treatment has previously required expensive chemical addition, for both adjustment and subsequent neutralization prior to use. We have developed a new chemical-free electrochemical pH modulation process to avoid this expense, termed electrohydromodulation (EHM), with which we have demonstrated 90% recovery of nitrogen and phosphorus from septic tank effluent. We are also developing an EHM advanced oxidation process which, together with EHM nutrient recovery will comprise a new net-zero water and energy recovery system.

Energy Analytics and Efficiency – Industrial Assessment Center (2022-2027)

PIs: Dr. Ramin Moghaddass (Director), Dr. Jaime Buitrago (assistant Director), Dr. Amaury Malava (Satellite Center, Assistant Director)

Funding Agency: Department of Energy (DoE)

This project focuses on energy analytics and efficiency, improving productivity, enhancing cybersecurity, promoting resiliency planning, and providing training to various entities in Florida, particularly in disadvantaged communities. This research project also studies the use of sensors, smart devices, and data loggers to assist industrial users in better manage energy consumption through optimizing programmable settings based on technical requirements, monitoring and controlling of the behind-the-meter distributed energy resources, and utilizing more efficient and cost-efficient equipment and processes as well as other systems-level efficiency improvements.