Dr. Kazempoor Receives $1.8 M+ Grant for Natural Gas Project

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In January, Dr. Pejman Kazempoor received a grant to start work on his natural gas project titled, “Low-Cost Retrofit Kit for Integral Reciprocating Compressors (IRCs) to Reduce Emissions and Enhance Efficiency.” This new retrofit technology—consisting of a combustion optimizer integrated sensors, and a cloud-connected control system—will significantly reduce emissions (i.e., methane and volatile organic compounds), improve operating efficiency, and reduce operating costs for existing IRCs used in production, gathering, transmission, and processing sections of the natural gas industry. This project received a DOE Funding of $1,488,391 plus $394,751 of Non-DOE Funding; and will be done over the course of 3 years.

Dr. Pejman Kazempoor, Dr. Hamid Shabgard, and Dr. Ramkumar Parthasarathy are the three professors involved in the project from the School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Sridhar Radhakrishnan, a professor from the School of Computer Science, is also involved in the project. Industry partners include WAGO Automation and Mid-Continent Rental.

According to Kazempoor and his research team, they, “expect to decrease emissions significantly from the production sector of the oil and gas industry.” The production sector accounts for 72% of the total methane emissions from the oil and natural gas industry (EPA, 2017).

Dr. Kazempoor will be collaborating with Dr. Radhakrishnan and WAGO automation to create a cloud-connected remote monitoring tool. Since the parameters to reduce emissions constitute true evidence of the IRC’s healthy operation, the cloud-connected feature facilitates remote monitoring of the IRC for preventative and predictive maintenance as an additional benefit to operators.

Dr. Kazempoor will be working on the project in his Energy Sustainability Center here at OU. He said, “The oil and natural gas industry has a direct economic impact on the state of Oklahoma. It’s a great opportunity to help our state and nation by solving the oil and natural gas industry problems, in this case, emissions.” Dr. Kazempoor said an aspect of this project he really enjoys is that they’re using advanced techniques, such as artificial intelligence, to modernize and enhance the safety and efficiency of the Nation’s natural gas infrastructure.

Three graduate students, who will use parts of the project work in their doctoral dissertations/master’s theses, will assist the principal investigators. “They are helping us to modernize what we have now in the field to the current standards. For example, a modern car has many sophisticated technologies. IRCs have been utilized in the oil and gas industry for 130 years, so they ‘re trying to integrate new technology into those old engines to make them more efficient.”

One graduate student will work on the Computational Fluid Dynamics, another on sensors, and the third graduate student will work on monitoring tools. Two undergraduate students will assist graduate students. Additionally, a technician will be hired to work on the retrofit kit manufacture and installation in the field.

 

Dr. Song collaborates with OG&E to bring you smarter HVAC systems

The following article was released by OG&E in a recent newsletter. Are you smarter than your HVAC? In the near future, it may be a toss-up

If University of Oklahoma College of Engineering professor Li Song and OG&E Supervisor of Customer Support Jessica King have their way, your HVAC system soon will be smarter than you are – at least when it comes to energy management.

Song, an associate professor in the School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, and her colleague Choon Yik Tang, with the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, have been working for the last five years to create a “smart” heating and cooling system that helps customers be more informed about their energy consumption and ultimately their energy bill.

Much of the success they’ve had so far is due to the partnership between OU and OG&E – and the relationship the two women have formed during the project.

Song’s original intention was to design for large, commercial buildings and reached out to Pat Saxton, Expert Account Manager for OG&E, who was working with Tinker Air Force Base. Song discovered the model for commercial buildings was “too cumbersome” to test outside of the lab and decided to use it for homeowners instead.

“Pat introduced me to Jessica, who gave me a perspective on what OG&E was doing with its SmartHours program and the company’s interest in helping make customers smarter energy consumers,” Song said.

Song is also working with Ecobee to put the smart HVAC technology in their thermostats. OG&E also is working with Ecobee to pilot their thermostats in 700 test homes, using the existing thermostat technology.

The new technology goes beyond the typical SmartTemp thermostats currently used in the SmartHours program in that it learns factors, such as humidity and air flow, within the home, customer energy consumption preferences and the performance of the HVAC system. It also takes into account outside factors such as temperature, wind speed, sunlight, weather forecasting and the cost of electricity during certain times of the day.

The technology also provides ahead-of-time forecasting so that customers know what their costs will be if they adjust their thermostat up or down.

Customers can control and monitor their thermostats using a smart phone app.

“We envision that customers in the future will receive personalized information about their home, their energy costs and their own energy consumption and will know it ahead of time or in real time,” King said. “In other words, they won’t be left in the dark about what their end bill will be.”

King assisted Song by writing letters in support of the project that were included in the application to get funding from the Department of Energy.

“After the success of SmartHours, we were asking ourselves ‘what’s next?’” King said. “And here was this great opportunity to support our local university and further our vision of being a trusted energy advisor for our customers.”

Song and her research team are now undertaking a two-year program to test the technology in an unoccupied home on the OU campus.

“We want complete control in these initial tests but will simulate the moisture, heat and other factors created by residents.”

In the third year, OG&E will recruit about 10 customers to participate as occupied test homes and, following this pilot, will expand the program to more homes.

Both women’s eyes light up when they talk about the technology and what it can do for OG&E customers.

“We envision expanding the technology to eventually all smart thermostats to give people more knowledge about how they use energy, what it costs and how small changes can impact their end bill,” Song said. “As well as helping predict the bill, the system will improve HVAC operations, detect AC problems earlier and possibly have an environmental impact as well.”

“The possibilities are endless,” King added. “We could work with home builders to create a true Positive Energy Home, and we’ve already formed a partnership with Ideal Homes to explore this possibility. Plus the data we get from the thermostats could help us target customers for energy efficiency programs, helping us provide energy assistance to those who need it most.”

Dr. Song Receives Multiple Awards for Current Research

Dr. Li Song, an associate professor at AME, received three awards for her current research projects. Two awards are from the Department of Energy, and the third award is from Battelle – Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Song is the lead PI for the development and validation of a home comfort system for total performance deficiency/fault detection and optimal control project, which received a DOE fund of $993,149. The research team will develop and validate a smart thermostat-integrated low-cost home energy management system, including a data connection framework; a computationally efficient, self-learning home thermal model; automatic fault detection and analysis algorithms; and home energy management information and controls based on in-situ measured efficiencies of heating and cooling equipment, the air distribution system, and the building envelope.

The second DOE fund is $551,566 for the performance demonstration of an occupancy sensor-enabled integrated solution for commercial buildings project. The research team will validate the performance and savings of three HVAC control (fan, cooling coil valve, outside air) algorithms integrated with occupancy sensing data to optimize ventilation delivery.

A $50,000 award was given to Song from Battelle – Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for her “Transactive-Control Based Connected Home Solution for Existing Residential Units and Communities” project.

This is a summary of Song’s research proposal sent to Battelle: To obtain the overall project aims, the development of machine learning techniques to calibrate the initial physical model that estimates and predicts energy use of a house and its response to control signals is extremely important. An effective home thermal model, that can predict the indoor air temperature dynamics under different weather, HVAC output and internal gains from appliances and occupants, is essential for the development.

BEEL initiated the development of a self-learning home thermal model two years ago. The BEEL home model, currently limited for a house with an A/C and gas-furnace heater, can automatically identify the model parameters with minimum data needed and precisely predict the space temperature and home HVAC energy uses for a house. To enhance the connectivity and compatibility of the platform proposed by PNNL, BEEL is committed to expand the home thermal model for a heat pump system and test enhanced home model using two houses located in Oklahoma through the partnership with OG&E. The challenge of modeling the heat pump is that the heating output from a heat pump is no longer constant as-is for a gas furnace heater. A correlation of the heating output of a heat pump and outdoor air temperature needs to be formulated and similarly, a correlation between cooling output of a heat pump and weather might be needed for cooling season as well.

Congratulations Dr. Song!

Additional News About Dr. Song’s Research:
Dr. Song’s Research is Promoted in the Press
Dr. Song Receives 2018 ASHRAE Technical Paper Award

 

Robust Adaptive Controls for Shipboard Landing of Multi-Rotor Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Alex Bryant and Lauren Ingmire in the lab.

A newly funded project in the School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering makes use of close collaboration between researchers in different fields to improve a critical technology for national defense. Dr. Keith Walters and Dr. Andrea L’Afflitto (now a faculty member at Virginia Tech) are combining their respective expertise in aerodynamics and controls to address a difficult challenge for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

It is well known that UAVs are increasingly being used for both commercial and military applications. The United States Department of Defense (DoD) currently employs multi-rotor helicopters (quadcopters) for remote sensing missions, such as surveillance and search and rescue. In the future, they will support troops by performing tactical tasks, such as picking up and dropping off payloads and surveying cluttered environments. Of particular interest are vehicles that operate autonomously, that is without any direct control by human pilots. These vehicles use onboard computers and mathematical control algorithms to perform necessary aerial maneuvers, travel to desired locations, avoid obstacles, and perform whatever tasks are required of their mission. The development of new and improved control algorithms is, therefore, an active area of research with the potential for substantial impact on next-generation UAVs.

This project focuses on the development of improved control algorithms specifically designed for the landing of UAVs on U.S. Navy ships. Shipboard landing is a complex task for UAVs because 1) the deck is highly unsteady in rough seas; 2) adverse sea conditions are often accompanied by adverse weather and high winds; 3) the superstructure of a moving ship induces a wake in the air, which further perturbs the UAVs landing on its deck; 4) near hard surfaces, the ‘ground effect’ alters the thrust produced by the propellers; and 5) UAVs returning from a mission may be damaged. To land on the deck of a ship, a UAV’s control system regulates the thrust forces of each propeller so that the aircraft approaches the ship with some desired relative velocity and orientation, leading to (hopefully) a gentle touch down in the appropriate location.

The primary objective of this research is to design a robust adaptive control system for multi-rotor UAVs that allows precise landing on the deck of moving ships. The work builds on prior research by former AME faculty member Andrea L’Afflitto and will make use of a model reference adaptive control (MRAC) architecture. Such an approach guarantees robustness of the closed-loop feedback system to both uncertainties in system parameters and unknown state-dependent disturbances that affect the control inputs, such as wind gusts or the swinging of an attached cargo payload.

The control algorithm will also be improved by adopting more realistic functional relationships between propeller rotational speed (RPM) and the generated thrust. Currently, it is assumed that thrust is simply proportional to RPM squared under all conditions. While this is often nearly true when a UAV is hovering in calm air, it does not hold during complex aerial maneuvers, under the action of strong wind disturbances, or when the vehicle is close to a solid surface such as the deck of a ship. Keith Walters and his students will perform computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations of quadrotor propellers to more accurately determine the relationship between thrust and RPM under these conditions. The simulations will be used to develop an analytical function that will be included in the control algorithm developed by Dr. L’Afflitto.

The scientific advances made by this project will be disseminated in the technical literature and will provide opportunities for graduate students to participate in national or international conferences. The improvement to UAV performance during shipboard landing will be critical to increasing the value of these vehicles to U.S. Navy missions, and the technology can be translated to other branches of the armed forces to improve design and operation of their next-generation UAV systems. Eventually, the research may be adopted by the commercial sector to improve, for example, the use of UAVs for package delivery or remote sensing in adverse weather conditions.

Dr. Song’s Research is Promoted in the Press

Dr. Song’s research on developing a smart AC system has received lots of promotion in the media. On August 19, it was promoted in an article by The Journal Record.

The article speaks about Dr. Song and Dr. Tang, an assistant professor from the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and their research with making smart thermostats. Dr. Song and Dr. Tang are working on ways to create a cheaper way to cool homes.

Students can read the article for free on the OU Libraries website. Once on the OU Library home page, students can go to databases and e-references, find The Journal Report and then search “OU researchers developing smart AC system that could lower bills by 40%” in the search bar. A full text will be available in the results.

Non-students can click here to visit The Journal Record website where the article is located.

Following the article in the Journal Record, KFOR also promoted Dr. Song’s research. Click here to view the article.

Gaylord student produces video of Dr. Chung-Hao Lee’s Research.

Gaylord student Victor Pozadas filmed and created a video on Dr. Chung-Hao Lee’s research. The video encompasses the work that Lee has been conducting with students in his lab. His research focuses on cardiovascular biomedical modeling and working with biological tissues and patient-specific modeling for improved diagnosis.

The goal of this current project is to take a patient specific geometry and put it into this model to figure out what treatment would work best for the patient. They are able to show how therapeutics effect the mechanics. The students said that it is really amazing to be able to work on a heart since mechanical engineers typically work with steel.

Thank you to Victor Pozadas for filming Dr. Lee’s work for others to see.

Watch video here: https://vimeo.com/295720619?ref=em-v-share

Researchers Mistree and Allen Publish New Research Findings

AME and ISE researchers Farrokh Mistree and Janet K. Allen released a monograph containing a fail-safe supply network that is designed to mitigate the impact of variations and disruptions on people and corporations. Mistree and Allen co-direct the Systems Realizations Laboratory at OU, which focuses on collaborative research in intelligent decision-based realizations of complex social systems. Ultimately, this work is aimed at educating strategic engineers.

In this monograph, they propose a framework, develop mathematical models and provide examples of a fail-safe supply network design. This is achieved by developing a network structure to mitigate the impact of disruptions that distort the network structure and planning flow through the network to neutralize the effects of variations.

The researchers asses current thinking at different levels of management within a network. The strategy revolves around 5 elements: reliability, robustness, flexibility, structural controllability, and resilience. Organizations can use the framework presented in this monograph to manage variations and disruptions. Managers can select the best operational management strategies for their supply networks considering variations in supply and demand and identify the best network restoration strategies. The framework is generalizable to other complex engineered networks.

The monograph was published October 15th, 2018 and is available for purchase here:

https://www.amazon.com/Architecting-Fail-Safe-Supply-Networks/dp/1138504262

Dr. Gramoll Awarded and Recognized for U.S. Patent

During OU’s annual Faculty Tribute ceremony on April 10th, hosted by the OU Board of Regents and President David L. Boren, Dr. Kurt Gramoll, was recognized for being awarded a U.S. patent titled “Vibration Reducing Pipe Junction.” Dr. Gramoll worked in conjunction with Blake Eisner to develop a piping system that, under high pressure conditions, would reduce the frequency of problematic vibrations caused by displacement pumps and their flow variations.                    In addition to his research and professing, he is also the director of the Engineering Media Laboratory at AME. He currently serves as a technical/editorial reviewer for Applied Mechanics Reviews, Composites Engineering Journal, Journal of Applied Mechanics, and for the American Society for Testing and Materials. Congratulations go to AME’s Dr. Gramoll for being awarded a U.S. patent and his award recognition at OU’s annual Faculty Tribute ceremony.

Dr. Lee Named Awardee of Nancy Mergler Faculty Mentor Award

Dr. Chung-Hao Lee, one of AME’s assistant professors was recently named an awardee for the Nancy Mergler Faculty Mentor Award for Undergraduate Research for 2017-18 during the Annual Faculty Tribute. The award nomination comes from undergraduate researchers submitting either a survey or a letter that presents examples of the mentor’s leadership skills. Through his mentoring of undergraduate research students, he has provided them with outstanding research experiences where he supports individual and professional development of the mentee. Dr. Lee’s award of $500 is based on his qualities such as: investing in the work of his students through guidance, instruction, and encouragement, as well as fostering an environment with mutual respect and providing timely, explicit, and constructive feedback for intellectual growth. Congratulations go to Dr. Lee on his profound mentorship skills and his recognition for the Nancy Mergler Faculty Mentor Award.

Gollahalli Legacy Fund

 

 

Professor Subramanyam Gollahalli, Lesch Centennial Chair at the University of Oklahoma (OU) School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering (AME), retired and transitioned to emeritus status in May 2017, after 41 years of service at OU (52 years including his tenure at the Indian Institute of Science, India and the University of Waterloo, Canada). His service included eight years of directorship at AME.

His distinguished career was marked by many awards from various professional organizations and many recognitions from OU, including the Regents Superior Teaching Award and Regents Professional Service Award. A few of the awards bestowed upon Professor Gollahalli are the Westinghouse Gold Medal, the Energy Systems Award, the Ralph James Award, the Ralph Teetor Award, the Samuel Collier Award and the Sustained Service Award.

Professor Gollahalli’s research in energy and combustion involved many experimental studies. He founded the internationally-recognized Combustion Laboratory, where he mentored over 100 graduate students (M.S. and Ph.D.) and post-doctoral associates and produced nearly 300 publications. He involved many undergraduate students in his laboratory research as well.

Professor Gollahalli strongly believes that “hands-on experimental experience” is an essential component of engineering education to prepare well-rounded engineers. He was the founding chair of the AME Laboratory Committee (1989), in which capacity he served until retirement (with a break during his directorship). He was the author of the “AME Lab Plan” required by the accreditation agency, which provides guidelines for various laboratories (two required labs and five elective labs). It deals with coordination, safety aspects and general guidelines for funding and conducting laboratory courses. During his tenure as the chair, he raised funds and arranged allocation of funds through the Lab Committee to modernize the lab education to keep pace with technological innovations.

“Dr. Gollahalli is a truly dedicated professor, he inspires his students to solve problems and make a difference,” said Sai Gundavelli, AME alum.

His passion for giving students hands-on experience resulted in the modernization of the AME machine shop with numerically controlled equipment. During his directorship, he gave priority to funding labs and the machine shop in which students were given the opportunity to work by themselves under the supervision of machine shop staff.

The capstone design project program, which involves industrial projects, saw a major growth in size and increase in funding during his directorship. The AME Capstone Project Poster Fair, where students exhibit their hands-on developed creations and win awards at the conclusion of judging by the industry personnel, became an annual popular event during his term as the director.

During his tenure as the director, he encouraged and supported the student competition activities, such as Sooner Racing Team, Human-Powered Vehicle Team, Robotics Team and Design-Build-Fly Team. The teams facilitated direct student involvement in designing, manufacturing and competing in national events. He personally attended some of the competitions to encourage students. He took great pleasure and felt proud when the teams achieved high national rankings.

When Professor Gollahalli stepped down from the directorship after eight years, the AME Board of Advisors started a fund to honor his legacy, which was intended to support the undergraduate laboratories. Now, after his retirement, to mark his passion and belief in providing valuable laboratory hands-on experience to students, Professor Gollahalli’s family decided to make a significant contribution to this fund to make it a permanent endowment, which will serve as a source of funding for this cause.

“I am grateful to the AME Board of Advisors for establishing Gollahalli Legacy Fund to support instructional labs. I thank my wonderful students and friends for their generous donation for this cause, which will facilitate production of well-rounded future AME engineers,” said Professor Gollahalli.

The School of AME requests your contributions to this fund to mark your name and help fulfill Professor Gollahalli’s long-standing desire. To contribute to the Gollahalli Legacy Fund please visit: https://giving.oufoundation.org/OnlineGivingWeb/Giving/OnlineGiving/Gollahalli