The Nonequilibrium Gas & Plasma Dynamics Laboratory (NGPDL) is directed by Professor Iain D. Boyd. NGPDL is active in the development and application of physical models and numerical methods for simulation of nonequilibrium gas flows and plasmas. Current aerospace application areas include electric propulsion (small rockets used to control spacecraft), and hypersonic aerothermodynamics (flight of spacecraft at high speeds).

Nonequilibrium means that the rates of fundamental processes (such as chemical reactions) are too slow to allow the system to reach equilibrium. Such behavior can have a significant impact on basic system performance such as the thrust of a rocket or the heat transfer to a hypersonic vehicle.

NGPDL develops models for simulating nonequilibrium flows using a variety of numerical techniques ranging from particle methods (e.g. direct simulation Monte Carlo, Particle In Cell, molecular dynamics), to continuum methods (Computational Fluid Dynamics, hydrodynamics). We also are conducting research into development of hybrid methods that use several of these techniques within a single simulation.

Our research in nonequilibrium gases and plasmas involves development of physical models for the gas and plasma systems of interest, development of numerical algorithms on the latest supercomputers, and application to challenging flows in several exciting projects. We place a great deal of emphasis on comparison of our calculations with external experimental and theoretical results, and have ongoing collaborative studies with colleagues at the University of Colorado, other universities, government laboratories, and industry.

Fifty-three doctoral students have graduated from NGPDL, and these alumni have gone on to continue working in the field of nonequilibrium flows through positions in academia, government research laboratories, and industry.