Imagine a pipe with water flowing through it. It’s not too hard for an engineer to gather information about the volume of water and the pipe geometry to make accurate predictions about how fast the water will flow or how much pumping power is required to produce this flow rate.
But now imagine the pipe contains water and gas, such as steam or air. Or there are two liquids – say, water and oil. Or there are solids suspended in the water. All of these situations are much more common in real-world engineering applications like power generation, water treatment and gas and oil transportation, and making predictions becomes much more complicated.
Engineering professor Wael Ahmed doesn’t mind complicated. In fact, he’s fascinated by the process of analyzing multi-phase flow – the technical term for these situations. “There are no simple formulas because there can be so many different factors,” he explains.
Ahmed joined the U of G faculty this summer and is beginning a research program aimed at understanding these complex flows in order to design more efficient and sustainable systems.