Engineer’s Marine Aerosol Research Gets Lift with CAREER Award
Dr. Giacomo Iungo studies the effects of marine aerosol particles by gathering real-time data from a marine environment, then creating simulations in the Boundary Layer and Subsonic Wind Tunnel (BLAST) at UT Dallas.
Dr. Giacomo Iungo and his team have been collecting data from the UT Dallas mobile wind lidar station at Galveston Island State Park. The remote-sensing instrument uses a laser to provide high-resolution measurements of wind velocity, the intensity of turbulence and the concentration of aerosol articles.
The mechanics of how particles, such as spilled oil droplets over the ocean surface, become trapped and transported through the wind and the atmosphere are not well understood.
Dr. Giacomo Iungo, associate professor of mechanical engineering in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at The University of Texas at Dallas and principal investigator of the Wind, Fluids, and Experiments Lab, is exploring this process to improve predictions of how aerosolized particles affect wind turbulence, coastal air quality and offshore wind turbines.
Iungo recently received a Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation to advance his research. The five-year, $500,000 grant will support research on campus and at Galveston Island State Park to collect data through the UT Dallas mobile wind lidar station on the interaction between wind and the sea surface, trapping of aerosolized particles within the atmosphere, and their transport to the coast. Iungo will use machine learning to build accurate models of the flow of the particles through the marine atmospheric boundary layer, where the ocean and atmosphere exchange large amounts of mass, momentum and energy.
“We’re trying to understand how we can predict the trapping of particles and how those particles interact with the wind turbulence and are transported over long distances,” Iungo said. “I’m looking at the mechanism of this motion.”
“We’re trying to understand how we can predict the trapping of particles and how those particles interact with the wind turbulence and are transported over long distances.”
Dr. Giacomo Iungo
Associate professor of mechanical engineering in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science
While most studies on aerosolized particles have involved modeling airborne particles in the lab, Iungo and his fellow researchers plan to conduct extensive field tests.
The research combines the disciplines of meteorology, chemistry, physics and fluid mechanics to analyze factors such as ocean currents, turbulence and wind velocity, which affect the movement of aerosolized particles.
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“By knowing wave height, wave direction, wind speed, things like this, we can predict how much concentration of a particle we could expect to find in a certain region at a certain time,” Iungo said. “This can be crucial, for instance, for helping people with asthma and respiratory illnesses in case marine aerosols may contain pollutants trapped from the sea surface.”
The research also involves analyzing the size and composition of the particles. Oil, which is lighter than water, can become aerosolized easily, Iungo said. The smaller the bubble, the farther aerosolized oil particles travel.
The results can be important for understanding how aerosols affect wind turbine performance and how the presence of aerosols impacts corrosion or lubrication of the mechanical components of the turbine and erosion of the blades, Iungo said.
Iungo and his team will gather data in Galveston Bay with the mobile lidar station. A wind lidar (light detection and ranging) is a remote-sensing instrument that uses a laser to provide high-resolution measurements of wind velocity, the intensity of turbulence and the concentration of aerosol particles.
The research builds on Iungo’s previous work in Galveston Bay, supported by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative. In that project, Iungo and researchers, including graduate and undergraduate students, deployed the UT Dallas mobile wind lidar station at Galveston Island State Park from November 2018 to April 2019 to collect data on marine wind and air conditions. Their research was featured on the cover of the journal Atmosphere.