The project will explore the novel use of Variational Multi-Scale Large Eddy Simulation (VMS-LES) as a consistent, complete, and computationally feasible, modeling and simulation approach for turbulent plasma flows. Three main tasks will be pursued: (i) formulation of a VMS-LES model of plasma flows based on a monolithic treatment of fluid conservation and electromagnetic field evolution equations, together with a novel description of the small scales (computationally unresolvable flow features); (ii) implementation of the model within a software infrastructure for the simulation of industrially-relevant non-equilibrium atmospheric-pressure plasma flows; and (iii) validation of the approach with Direct Numerical Simulation (DNS) of model problems and with experimental data from collaborators from the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. The comprehensiveness of the VMS-LES approach will allow the seamless exploration of laminar, transitional, and turbulent non-equilibrium plasma flow regimes. The monolithic formulation is expected to provide increased robustness and computational efficiency with respect to prevailing solution methods. The project will test the hypothesis of the universality of the small scales, at the core of LES approaches, which will lead to broader understanding of the physics of plasma turbulence and to increased predictive capabilities of turbulence models.

The project will impact diverse modern technologies based on non-equilibrium atmospheric-pressure plasma flows, such as fuel reforming, assisted combustion, gasification, toxics remediation, and materials processing, for which no comprehensive turbulence modeling and simulation methodology exist. The project has the potential to impact a wide range of subfields of Plasma Science and Engineering by providing a turbulence modeling and simulation approach applicable to different types of plasma models, and therefore enabling the computational investigation of diverse natural (e.g., astrophysical jets, solar flares, earth's magnetosphere, lightning) and technological (e.g., confined fusion, planetary entry, processing of materials) plasma flows for which DNS is unfeasible with current and foreseeable computational resources. The project promotes international collaborative research, and has educational impacts by the training of a Ph.D. student, the dissemination of research outcomes through journal publications, and by the outreach of underrepresented undergraduate STEM students into applied academic research through mentorship to the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers at UMass Lowell.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Physics (PHY)
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Vyacheslav (Slava) Lukin
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University of Massachusetts Lowell
United States
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