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Aswin Gnanaskandan, assistant professor of mechanical and materials engineering, is a part of a team including researchers from Pennsylvania State University and the University of Notre Dame that has received a grant from the Office of Naval Research. The 3-year project will aim to advance the understanding of the dynamics of aviation fuels as they flow through the fuel injection system.

Aviation fuels often undergo a wide range of fluctuating environments as they flow through the fuel injection system. Whenever they encounter reduced pressures, the chances of phase change increases, resulting in the conversion of liquid fuel to vapor state. Such a phase change process, called cavitation, often leads to degradation of system performance and/or damage to fuel system components.  This investigation, through experiments and mathematical modeling, is aimed at gaining a better understanding of some of the yet unexplored aspects of fuel cavitation in modern aircraft fuel systems. 

WPI will be leading the computational aspect of this project along with Penn State, and the experimental work will be carried out at Notre Dame. Dr. Gnanaskandan will be leveraging his expertise on modeling cavitation phenomenon in water and extending it to more complex aviation fuels. The results of this project will advance the ability of the Navy to execute first-principles-based modern cavitation CFD to the fuel-system arena. This will lead to significant improvements in the design of jet engine fuel pump components in the future, enabling damage-resistant geometries.