Assistant Professor Peter Hamlington received a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation this month for his work exploring the characteristics and behavior of highly turbulent premixed flames in engines using advanced computational simulations. He will receive roughly $500,000 over the next five years.
CAREER awards support early career faculty who have the potential to become leaders in both research and education in their fields. Hamlington, who earned his PhD from the University of Michigan, has been a faculty member in CU Boulder’s Department of Mechanical Engineering since 2012. His interest in CU Boulder stemmed, in part, from a desire to bring fluids and combustion researchers from across the Front Range together.
His project, titled, “Structure and Dynamics of Highly Turbulent Premixed Combustion,” will allow for more accurate simulations of energy systems.
“The idea is to understand combustion more completely so that we can also understand how to improve efficiency, reduce emissions and achieve better control in propulsion systems,” Hamlington said.
In the project, Hamlington and his research group will apply a dynamic modeling technique developed by computer scientists and mathematicians known as Adaptive Mesh Refinement to their research. That is something that hasn’t been done before in highly turbulent configurations. In addition to refining theories, the group will also share data, statistics, analysis codes, and diagnostic tools with scientists in the combustion community.
“Although our research has real-world engineering applications, we are interested in what we will learn from a fundamental perspective,” Hamlington said. “When a problem is rich and difficult, that is enough for me to find value in solving it.”
Hamlington said what he loves most about his job is working with students to investigate phenomena not previously understood. He said he enjoys thinking systematically about questions without clear answers. “This would probably be my hobby if it wasn’t my job,” he said.
Hamlington said his research group helped make it possible for him to win this award.
“While I’m listed as the PI,” Hamlington said, “it is fitting that this award will ultimately benefit the students.”