(7fp) Investigating Kinetics Under Extremely-Harsh Conditions for Energy and Food Processing

Wu, X. Y., MIT
Wu, Xiao-Yu, PhD’17, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Postdoctoral Associate, Reacting Gas Dynamics Laboratory/Center for Energy and Propulsion Research, MIT

Research Interests:

My research interests focus on the fundamental understanding of the kinetics in the thermo-electro-chemical processes under extremely-harsh operating conditions, i.e., high temperature/pressure, supercritical conditions and corrosive environment. Harsh operating conditions are inevitable in many energy and food processing applications such as fusion, combustion, supercritical fluid extraction and membrane filtration. The insights for both the chemical kinetics and process/reactor kinetics, i.e., the reaction kinetics, thermo-fluid transport, material stability and degradation under these conditions are essential for the optimal design of such systems in a safe and efficient manner. Both experimental and simulation tools are used to investigate these processes.

My PhD thesis with Professor Ahmed F. Ghoniem at MIT focused on development of oxygen permeable membrane reactor for enhanced H2O/CO2 splitting as an energy storage technology. Elevated temperatures are required to facilitate the kinetics of both surface reactions and bulk diffusions. Using both experiments and simulations, I was able to derive the chemical kinetic data for the heterogeneous surface reactions, and then model the oxygen transport process and design a membrane reactor. Additionally, the membrane stability under extremely reducing environment at elevated temperatures is one bottleneck for the implementation. Therefore, I characterized the membrane materials to understand the degradation mechanism. These insights from my PhD thesis can help engineers design better membrane reactor for this H2O/CO2 splitting process for energy storage.

My previous work in Zhejiang University was investigating heat and mass transfer under two extreme conditions: falling film evaporation in a vacuum and kerosene-nanofluids at supercritical conditions. Both projects were derived from industrial applications and the goal was to understand the transport phenomena and to design surface structures for enhanced heat/mass transfer.

Currently, I am in my first year of postdoctoral research with Professor Ahmed F. Ghoniem and Professor Bilge Yildiz at MIT. This project is sponsored by Exelon Corporation to investigate different hydrogen production technologies utilizing nuclear resources. The operating conditions for these technologies are different from the existing reforming technologies, and the understanding of the kinetics involved can help transform nuclear resources from solely an electricity producer into a versatile industry. Apart from studying the reaction and transport phenomena experimentally, I also plan to set up a techno-economic framework to compare the existing and developing technologies. This framework aims at identify the bottleneck for the development of certain technologies by comparing the kinetics in the processes. Following this, researches can investigate the improvements of these limiting steps to better develop the hydrogen production technologies.

In this poster session, I will give a more detailed presentation on my previous and current projects as well as the proposed research topics which will continue investigating the processes under extremely-harsh conditions for efficient energy and food processing. The goal of my research is to derive fundamental understanding of these processes, and guide the design and operation for a safe and clean future. These insights can also lead to new applications in related fields.

Teaching Interests:

Chemical kinetics, reactor design, transport phenomena, thermodynamics, or other related subjects

At MIT, I took the graduate course “Instruction in Teaching Engineering” and applied the knowledge on teaching when I TA’ed three courses at MIT: Thermal-Fluids Engineering II (undergrad core subject), Fundamental of Advanced Energy Conversion (both undergrad and grad) and Introduction to Heat Transfer (undergrad). Besides, I have mentored three undergraduates at MIT under my thesis work: one from MIT-Egypt Exchange Fellowship Program (3 months) and two from MIT Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) (5 and 8 months). One of my supervisees received MIT UROP research funding for two terms under my thesis project.


1. MIT-France Travel Fellowship, 2017

2. NSF Travel Award, 2017, 2016

3. Best paper initiative in AIChE Journal, 2016

4. MIT Golden Beaver Award – Institute award for excellence in student group leadership, 2016

5. Best Presentation in the 2015 AIChE Annual Meeting, 2015

6. Audience Award in MIT Mechanical Engineering Research Exhibition Poster Session, 2015

7. MISTI-MITEI fellow in Germany, MIT, 2015

Selected Publications:

1. X.Y. Wu, M. Uddi, A.F. Ghoniem, “Enhancing co-production of H2 and syngas via water splitting and POM on surface-modified oxygen permeable membranes”, AIChE Journal, 62 (12) 2016, 4427 - 4435, (invited contribution to AIChE Journal as “Best paper” initiative)

2. X.Y. Wu, L. Chang, M. Uddi, P. Kirchen, A.F. Ghoniem, “Toward enhanced hydrogen generation from water using oxygen permeating LCF membranes”, Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 17 2015 10093-10107

3. D. Huang, X. Y. Wu, Z. Wu, W. Li, H. T. Zhu, B. Sunden, “Experimental Study on Heat Transfer of Nanofluids in a Vertical tube at Supercritical Pressures”, International Communications in Heat and Mass Transfer, 63 2015 54-61

4. D. Huang, B. Ruan, X.Y. Wu, W. Zhang, G.Q. Xu, Z. Tao, P.X. Jiang, L.X. Ma, W. Li, “Experimental Study on Heat Transfer of Aviation Kerosene in a Vertical Upward Tube at Supercritical Pressure”, Chinese Journal of Chemical Engineering, 23 (2) 2015 425 - 434

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