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Researching fluid flows containing particles with NSF EAGER grant

Fluid flows containing particles, UIC, Associate Professor Parisa Mirbod,  NSF EAGER grant

Fluid flows containing particles are found in nature and in technology. Examples include paint, bio-micro devices, extrusion processes, and the manufacturing of food and beverage or fuel.

However, most of the flow research on instabilities has been performed on pure fluids, and very few works have been done specifically on flows with particles. MIE Associate Professor Parisa Mirbod hopes to change this with her new two-year EAGER grant from the NSF.

The EAGER award is geared toward “untested, but potentially transformative, research ideas or approaches.” Such “high risk-high payoff” research often entails “radically different approaches, applies new expertise, or engages novel disciplinary or interdisciplinary perspectives.”

“We aim to demonstrate the flow instability fundamentals and to see if it is possible to apply the obtained knowledge to the flows containing particles,” said Mirbod, who is the director of the Mirbod Lab at UIC.

It is necessary to know a specific flow rate in micro-bio devices in order to control fluid flow since the flow can be very slow and very fast. There is a specific region in between where the slow flow transitions to the high flow. In any micro-bio device, it’s crucial to characterize or control this flow.

“This is known as instability,” she said. “The work in pure fluids is extensive, but here we want to focus primarily on flows involving particles.”

Mirbod and her team are looking to formalize and come up with a new method that would validate what they have in pure fluid cases and control the ability of the flow from one state to another.

“This grant specifically focuses on experiments. Using the devices that are originally designed from my current active NSF grant, we are performing state-of-the-art experiments to tackle this problem” she said.

Mirbod is collaborating with Professor Michael Schatz in the physics department at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who has a significant experience on the instabilities in pure fluids. She believes his expertise combined with her knowledge of flows with particles has the potential to advance knowledge gaps.

“The results of our work should set the stage for the discovery of new methods to manipulate flow with particles,” she added. “The outcomes could be applied in a lot of scenarios and different fields.”