MEAM Seminar Series Fall 2013

Seminars are held on Tuesday mornings, with coffee at 10:30 am in the Levine Hall Mezzanine and the seminar beginning at 10:45 am in Wu and Chen Auditorium (unless otherwise noted).

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September 9 Ph.D Defense, 2:00 p.m. Levine 307

Drew Cheney, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Pennsylvania

"Computational Modeling of Geometry Dependent Phonon Transport in Silicon Nanostructures "

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Recent experiments have demonstrated that thermal properties of semiconductor nanostructures depend on nanostructure boundary geometry. Phonons are quantized mechanical vibrations that are the dominant carrier of heat in semiconductor materials and their aggregate behavior determine a nanostructure’s thermal performance. Phonon-geometry scattering processes as well as waveguiding effects which result from coherent phonon interference are responsible for the shape dependence of thermal transport in these systems. Nanoscale phonon-geometry interactions provide a mechanism by which nanostructure geometry may be used to create materials with targeted thermal properties. However, the ability to manipulate material thermal properties via controlling nanostructure geometry is contingent upon first obtaining increased theoretical understanding of fundamental geometry induced phonon scattering processes and having robust analytical and computational models capable of exploring the nanostructure design space, simulating the phonon scattering events, and linking the behavior of individual phonon modes to overall thermal behavior.

The overall goal of this research is to predict and analyze the effect of nanostructure geometry on thermal transport. To this end, a harmonic lattice-dynamics based atomistic computational modeling tool was created to calculate phonon spectra and modal phonon transmission coefficients in geometrically irregular nanostructures. The computational tool is used to evaluate the accuracy and regimes of applicability of alternative computational techniques based upon continuum elastic wave theory. The model is also used to investigate phonon transmission and thermal conductance in diameter modulated silicon nanowire systems. Motivated by the complexity of the transmission results, a simplified model based upon long wavelength beam theory was derived and helps explain geometry induced phonon scattering of low frequency nanowire phonon modes.

September 10

Juan C. Lasheras, Distinguished Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Bioengineering, University of California, San Diego

"The Role of Myosin II Motors and F-actin Dynamics in the Mechanics of Cell Migration and Invasion"

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Eukaryotic cells move in response to external stimuli by remodeling their cytoskeleton and their adhesions to the extracellular matrix. The production and spatio-temporal organization of the traction forces exerted by the cell during migration are determined by the orchestrated interactions of actin-directed motors, F-actin regulation, actin crosslinking, motor-protein contractility and adhesion proteins. This process is controlled by a complex network of signaling pathways that drive a relatively simple repetitive sequence of mechanical actions coordinated in space and time. We present detailed characterization of the traction stresses’ phenotypes of wild-type cells and various mutant cell lines, providing new insights into the role that Myosin II and F-actin polymerization play in the spatiotemporal regulation of cell substratum interactions and traction stresses required for amoeboid cell motility. We use conditional and phase statistics as well as Principal Component Analysis (PCA) to integrate all the biochemical and mechanical measurements to obtain the quantitative information needed to connect specific biochemical processes to each of the mechanical events in the motility cycle. We demonstrate that Myosin II is essential not only to the contractility phase of the motility cycle but also to the pseudopod protrusion phase. Furthermore, the spatiotemporal organization of the traction forces is shown to depend not only on the contractile action of Myosin II, but more importantly in its actin crosslinking effect. We have also investigated the role of Arp2/3-mediated dendritic polymerization of F-actin at the cell’s leading edge, a process regulated through the evolutionarily conserved SCAR/WAVE complex. We have measured and compared the traction stresses exerted by cells lacking the SCAR/WAVE complex proteins PIR121 (pirA-) and SCAR (scrA-) with those of wild-type cells. We show that the existence of periodic oscillations in the spatiotemporal distribution of traction forces and the length of the cell are regulated by dendritic actin polymerization.


Juan C. Lasheras is the Stanford and Beverly Penner Professor in the department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) and an Affiliate Professor in the department of Bioengineering at the University of California San Diego (UCSD). He received his PhD at Princeton University in 1982, and after two-year at the Koninklijke Shell Laboratorium-Amsterdam in The Netherlands, joined the faculty at the University of Southern California. In 1990 Lasheras moved to UCSD where he was the chairman of the MAE department from ‘99 to ‘04. He has been the Interim Dean of the Jacobs School of Engineering for the academic year 2012/2013 and is currently serving as the director of the Center for Medical Devices and Instrumentation (CMDI) in the Institute of Engineering in Medicine. He was a Guggenheim Fellow, a George Van Ness-Lothrop Fellow and received the F.N. Frenkiel Award from the APS/DFD in 1990. He is a member National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and the Royal Academy of Engineering of Spain. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS), and a past chairman of the Division of Fluid Dynamics of the APS. He has been awarded the degrees of “Doctor Honoris Causa” from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain and from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain.

September 17

Alberto Cuitino, Professor and Executive Officer, Rutgers University
" Multi-scale modeling and simulation of powder compaction processes"

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Predictive multi-scale modeling and simulation of powder compaction processes requires research efforts in two main fronts. First, the development of predictive constitutive models of inter-particle interactions that account for high levels of confinement and a variety of physical mechanisms (e.g., elasto-plastic deformations, adhesion, bonding, friction, and fracture). Second, the development of concurrent multi-scale strategies that combine a detailed description of the granular scale with the computational efficiency typical of continuum models. The outline of the Seminar is then twofold: (i) we present a new 'nonlocal contact formulation' that overcomes the typical, but unrealistic, assumption that contacts are independent regardless the confinement of the granular system, (ii) we describe a fully-discrete multi-scale strategy which solves for contact forces at the granular scale, for nonlocal deformations at the mesoscale, and for static equilibrium at the macroscale.


Dr. Alberto Cuitino, Professor and Chair of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Rutgers, is currently the Associate Director of the NSF Engineering Research Center for Structured Organic Particulate Systems. Dr. Cuitiño received a Civil Engineering Diploma from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1986, and a MS degree in Applied Mathematics and a Ph.D. degree in Solid Mechanics from Brown University in 1992 and1994, respectively. His research interests include material modeling and simulations, dislocation mechanics, fracture in metal single crystals, granular materials, mechanical behavior of solid foams and
folding patterns in thin films. Dr. Cuitiño served as editor of Mechanics a publication of the The American Academy of Mechanics, continues to be the subject editor for Applied Mechanics of Latin American Applied Research, and is part of the the editorial board of the International Journal of Plasticity.

September 24

Radhakrishnan "Suresh" Sureshkumar, Department Chair, Department of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering, Syracuse University
"Plasmonic Fluids: Structure, Rheology and Applications"

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Solution phase self-assembly of noble metal nanoparticles and surfactant micelles is employed to produce stable plasmonic fluids with tunable optical properties. Small angle X-ray scattering, rheological studies and molecular dynamics simulations suggest that surfactant-clad nanoparticles form stable junctions with wormlike micelles to form a compact network. Plasmonic fluids exhibit rich rheological behavior depending on the nanoparticle concentration and the salt to surfactant molar ratio. Specifically, non-monotonic dependence of zero shear viscosity on nanoparticle concentration, rheopexy, shear thickening, shear banding and shear thinning are observed. The rheological and optical properties of plasmonic fluids also greatly depend upon the temperature due to the thermally-induced structural changes. The applications of such fluids to fabricating efficient broadband light trapping interfaces for thin film photovoltaic cells, plasmon-enhanced microalgal growth and optofluidic devices will be discussed.


Radhakrishna "Suresh" Sureshkumar (B.S. 1990 (IIT Madras); M.S. 1992 (Syracuse University), Ph.D. 1996 (University of Delaware) is Professor and Department Chair of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering and Professor of Physics at Syracuse University. Prior to joining SU in January 2010, he was professor of chemical engineering at Washington University in Saint Louis. In 1997, Sureshkumar was awarded the Alan P. Colburn Prize for the most outstanding doctoral dissertation in engineering and mathematical sciences by University of Delaware. In 1999, he received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award. He has co-authored over 85 peer-reviewed journal articles and numerous technical presentations. During his sabbatical in 2008, he was visiting professor at University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Rice University, University of Edinburgh and University of Porto. Suresh's research interests are in structure, dynamics and rheology of soft condensed matter, interfacial phenomena at nano/meso scales and interaction of light with nanomaterials, interfaces and photosynthetic organisms.

October 1

Julia Greer, Professor of Materials Science and Mechanics, California Institute of Technology
"Nanostructured 3-D Architectures: Mechanics and Physics of Deformation and Fracture in Nanomaterials for Biomimetics, Batteries, and Lightweight Structural Materials"

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Creation of extremely strong yet ultra-light materials can be achieved by capitalizing
on the hierarchical design of 3-dimensional nano-lattices. Such structural metamaterials
exhibit superior thermomechanical properties at extremely low mass
densities (lighter than aerogels), making these solid foams ideal for many scientific
and technological applications. The dominant deformation mechanisms in such
“meta-materials”, where individual constituent size (nanometers to microns) is
comparable to the characteristic microstructural length scale of the constituent solid,
are essentially unknown. To harness the lucrative properties of 3-dimensional
hierarchical structures, it is critical to assess mechanical properties at each relevant
scale while capturing the overall structural complexity.
We present the fabrication of 3-dimensional nano-lattices whose constituents vary in
size from nanometers to tens of microns to millimeters. We discuss the mechanical
properties of a range of nano-sized solids with different microstructures, subjected to
mechanical deformation in a custom-made in-situ nanomechanical instrument.
Attention is focused on the interplay between the internal critical microstructural
length scale of materials and their external limitations in revealing the physical
mechanisms governing the mechanical deformation, where competing material- and
structure-induced size effects drive overall properties.
We focus on the deformation and failure in nano structures and discuss size effects
in nanomaterials in the framework of mechanics and physics of defects. Specific
discussion topics include: nano-mechanical experiments on nano structures
extracted from particular phases and containing specific boundaries and interfaces,
flaw sensitivity in fracture of nano structures, and the creation of hollow nano-lattices
for applications in biomedical devices, ultra lightweight Li-ion batteries, and damagetolerant
cellular solids.

A key focus in Professor J.R.Greer’s research is the development of innovative
experimental approaches to assess mechanical properties and deformation mechanisms in nano structures. Greer received her S.B. degree in Chemical Engineering with a minor in Advanced Music Performance from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1997) and Ph.D. degree in Materials Science and Engineering from Stanford University, working on nano-scale plasticity of gold (2005). She has also worked at Intel Corporation in a mask micro-fabrication facility (2000-03) and was a post-doctoral fellow at the Palo Alto Research Center, PARC (2005-07), where she studied organic flexible electronics. Greer is a recipient of the Nano Letters Young Investigator Lectureship (2013), Society of Engineering Science Young Investigator Award (2013), TMS Early Career Faculty award (2013), the inaugural NASA Early Career Faculty award (2012), Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award (2012), Sia Nemat-Nasser ASME Early Career Award (2011), DOE Early Career award (2011), WTN’s World Technology Award in Materials (2010), TMS’s Young Leaders award in structural materials division (2010), DARPA’s Young Faculty Award (2009), Technology Review’s Top Young Innovator Under 35 award, TR-35, (2008), the NSF’s CAREER
Award (2007), and the Gold Materials Research Society’s Graduate Student Award
(2004). Julia joined the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences (Materials
Science and Mechanics) of California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 2007. She is
an Associated Editor of Nano Letters and is on the Board of Reviewing Editors for the
journal Science. She is also a concert pianist, with most recent performances of
“nanomechanics rap” with MUSE.IQUE (director Rachael Worby), a solo piano recital
at Caltech (2012), and as a soloist of the Brahms Concerto No. 2 with the Redwood
Symphony (2006).

October 8

Sulin Zhang, Associate Professor of Engineering Science and Mechanics and Bioengineering, Pennsylvania State University
"Virus-Inspired Design Principles of Nanosized Targets for Cellular Delivery"

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Animal viruses invade their host cells in an astonishingly effective and robust fashion, a typical process known as endocytosis. While in vitro and in vivo studies have evidenced that viral invasion is type selective (i.e., certain viruses are engulfed and internalized but not the others), size selective (i.e., 50nm viruses are internalized preferably but not 100nm ones), and shape sensitive (i.e., spherical and nonspherical viruses are internalized with different pathways), the biophysical principles harnessed by the evolutional design of viruses remain poorly understood. A fundamental understanding of the virus-inspired physics would shed light in the biomimetic design of nanoparticle-based diagnostic and therapeutic agents with enhanced cellular targeting.

Inspired by the molecular structures of typical viruses, in this talk I will elucidate the key factors governing the cellular uptake of nanosized targets through a combination of thermodynamic analysis, coarse-grained modeling, and in vitro experimental studies. In particular, I will provide our biophysical understanding regarding how the cellular uptake of nanosized targets is thermodynamically controlled and biochemically regulated through designable parameters, including the size, shape, and surface biochemistry of nanoscale targets. I will further provide experimental evidence on the regulatory role of local physical environment of cells on the cellular uptake, an additional factor in the context of mechanotransduction that has been often overlooked by previous in vitro studies. Finally, I will conclude by illustrating virus-inspired principles for engineering nanoparticle-based therapeutic and diagnostic agents with improved targeting efficiency.


Dr. Sulin Zhang received PhD from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 2002. From 2003-2005 he worked as a Postdoc Fellow with Prof. Ted Belytschko at Northwestern University. He was appointed to an Assistant Professor first in the Mechanical Engineering at the University of Arkansas in 2005, and then in the Engineering Science and Mechanics at Penn State University in 2007. He became an Associate Professor in Penn State in 2011. He is also an affiliated faculty member in the Department of Biomedical Engineering of PSU. Dr. Zhang’s research interests generally lie in the multiscale modeling and experimental characterization of nanostructured and bio-inspired materials, and of processes that occur at nano-bio interfaces. He is particularly interested in the role of Mechanics in Biology. He is the current Chair for the technical committee of Mechanics in Medicine and Biology in ASME. Dr. Zhang is the recipient of The Oak Ridge Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award in 2006, and the Early Career Development Award from National Science Foundation in 2007.

October 15

Heather Knight, Ph.D. candidate, Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon
"Charismatic Machines"

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You have probably heard about The Terminator's supposed "friend or foe" algorithm. This presentation will be about how humans make similar determinations about machines. Is a robot an agent or a device? Intelligent or a dolt? Charismatic or dull? If we are designing machines, we want to influence these first impressions, because that enables or limits the effectiveness and acceptance of these machines in human environments.
My current research investigates machine body language, namely motion. Generally humans interpret machine actions by modeling them back on archetypes of human or animal behaviors, neurologically and psychologically. Some motion communications require knowledge of the physiology of an agent, e.g., waving hello or shaking one's head. I am particularly interested in modeling motion characteristics that are form invariant, communicating task-relevant robot states, identifying features that non-anthropomorphic robots can use to interact with us successfully & appropriately.
At the MEAM Seminar, assisted my pint-sized robot comedian Data, I share early results of how these principles can be applied to mobile robots or even flying machines. Turns out even utilitarian mobile robots can rub people the wrong way, just think of how angry people get at inconsiderately moving cars on the way to work. It might also be handy to quickly distinguish between a drone waging war, versus bringing you a cupcake.

Heather Knight is a PhD candidate at Carnegie Mellon and founder of Marilyn Monrobot, which features comedy performances by Data the Robot, the annual Robot Film Festival and a one-off Cyborg Cabaret. Her current research involves human-robot interaction, non-verbal machine communications and non-anthropomorphic social robots. She was named to the 2011 Forbes List for 30 under 30 in Science. Her work also includes: robotics and instrumentation at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, interactive installations with Syyn Labs (including the award winning "This too shall pass" Rube Goldberg Machine music video with OK GO), field applications and sensor design at Aldebaran Robotics, and she is an alumnus from the Personal Robots Group at the MIT Media Lab.

Tuesday, October 22, 3:00 p.m., DRL B2N36 - Doctoral Defense

Nathan Jacobs, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Pennsylvania

Adviser: Dawn Elliott
"Validation and Application of an Intervertebral Disc Finite Element Model Utilizing Independently Constructed Tissue-Level Constitutive Formulations that are Nonlinear, Anisotropic, and Time-Dependent"

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Intervertebral disc structure is highly organized, enabling it to bear multi-directional loads, dissipate energy, and permit flexibility of the spine. The heterogeneous and anisotropic composition of the disc structure imparts a nonlinear, anisotropic, and time-dependent behavior to its stress-strain response. Experimental motion segment testing has characterized the global mechanical properties of the disc, however, it is difficult to experimentally elucidate the contributions of specific disc tissues on the total disc response. Similarly, it is challenging to target structural changes within specific disc tissues without causing secondary structural changes (e.g. needle puncture), which obfuscate the interpretation of results.

Finite element models have been used to provide quantitative measures of disc mechanics; however, the complicated nature of the disc presents obstacles in developing an accurate and predictive computational disc model, especially when material models are selected without proper characterization at a tissue level. Most disc finite element models are therefore limited either in their material models, their validations to experimental studies, or in their abilities to capture the multifaceted nature of disc mechanics.

In order to confidently extend the findings from finite element simulations to in vivo applications, the objective of this dissertation is to develop a new intervertebral disc finite element model created with material models validated both at an individual tissue scale as well as a full disc scale. Implementing this model, the critical contributions of the main disc substructures, including the nucleus pulposus, cartilaginous endplate, and annulus fibrosus to the disc slow-loading and transient, time-dependent mechanical responses, are elucidated.

October 29

Michelle Johnson, Assistant Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Pennsylvania
"Bilateral and Unilateral Task-Oriented, Robot Therapy Environments for Patients with Upper Limb Motor Impairment"

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Robot-assisted therapy is a treatment strategy that has been applied to adults with stroke, spinal cord injury, and children with cerebral palsy (CP). These environments can help automate therapies and assist adults and children with mild to severe limitations in upper and lower limbs. This presentation discusses the development and use of two task-oriented robot therapy environments, the ADLER: an Activities of Daily Living (ADL) task-oriented robot therapy environment that assists stroke patients and the Bi-ADLER: a bilateral ADL task-oriented robot therapy environment that is being developed to assist children with cerebral palsy. These environments focus on the problem of robot-assisted relearning of tasks requiring reaching and/or grasping with the upper limb. I discuss design requirements and challenges as well as the potential of these systems to understand motor impairment, motor recovery, and brain plasticity.

Michelle J. Johnson, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Pennsylvania. She has adjunct appointments as an associate professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin, and as research assistant professor in biomedical engineering at Marquette University. She directs the Rehabilitation Robotic Research and Design Laboratory. The Lab's mission is to investigate motor control, motor dysfunction, and brain plasticity using robotics, neuroscience and rehabilitation techniques. Research findings translate into the development of assistive and therapeutic rehabilitation robots that are able to improve quality of life and function on activities of daily living (ADLs).

Dr. Johnson received her bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics from the University of Pennsylvania. She has a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, with an emphasis in mechatronics, robotics, and design, from Stanford University. She completed a NSF-NATO post-doctoral fellowship at the Advanced Robotics Technology and Systems Laboratory at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Italy. She is a NIH Career Awardee to study brain changes after robot-assisted therapy focused on real activities.

November 12: Tedori-Callinan Lecture

Mary C. Boyce, Dean, The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science and Morris A. and Alma Schapiro Professor, Columbia University
"Mechanics of Wavy Interfacial Layers in Hybrid Material Architectures: Nature-inspired Design to 3D-printed Prototypes"
Learn more about the Tedori-Callinan Lecture

Thursday, November 14, 12:00 p.m., Singh Center, Glandt Forum

H. Tom Soh, Ruth Garland Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials, University of California, Santa Barbara
"Cell Sorting and Directed Evolution in Microfluidic Systems"

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Abstract: Current techniques in high performance molecular and cellular separations are limited by the inherent coupling among three competing parameters: throughput, purity, and recovery of rare species.  Our group utilizes unique advantages of microfluidics technology to decouple these competing parameters by precise and reproducible generation of separation forces that are not accessible in conventional, macroscopic systems.  In this seminar, we will first discuss novel electrokinetic, magnetophoretic and acoustophoretic separation devices to purify rare target cells from complex mixtures.  Second, we will discuss integrated biosensors that combine these separation devices with molecular probes in a disposable microfluidic chip.  These chips are capable of processing clinical samples and provide molecular diagnostic information at the point-of-care.  Finally, we will present our recent work in directed evolution using microfluidic devices. We will provide theoretical and experimental evidence for extremely fast generation of affinity reagents, and present innovative methods of evolving molecular machines that are capable of performing complex molecular functions such as binding induced switching and conformation change.


Bio: Dr. Soh received his B.S. with a double major in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science with Distinction from Cornell University, and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University. Prior to joining UCSB in 2003, Dr. Soh served as the technical manager of MEMS Device Research Group at Bell Laboratories and Agere Systems. His current research interests are in analytical biotechnology, especially in high throughput screening, directed evolution and integrated biosensors. He is Co-Director at the Center for Stem Cell Biology & Engineering and Associate Director of the California Nanosystems Institute (CNSI). He is the recipient of the MIT Technology Review’s "TR 100" Award (2002), ONR Young Investigator Award (2004), Beckman Young Investigator Award (2005), ALA Innovator Award (2009), NIH Director’s TR01 Award (2009), The Guggenheim Fellowship (2010), NIH Edward Nagy Award (2011), Garland Endowed Chairship at UCSB (2011) and Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship (2012).

November 19


Andrew Alleyne, Ralph and Catherine Fisher Professor, Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
"Dynamical Modeling and Control for Building Systems"

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Buildings are responsible for a large fraction of global energy usage. In the U.S. buildings consume approximately 40% of total energy usage, including 70% of electricity and 50% of natural gas. Moreover, it is estimated that buildings contribute to 40 % of the worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. For buildings, the energy consumption is on par with all transportation systems and the carbon footprint is actually higher. The primary energy usage within buildings is in the regulation of interior space’s energy state. In this talk we consider the modeling and control of building systems represented as large and complex systems necessitating a hierarchical examination of their transient behavior and control. We divide the talk into two general sections and present topics from both a subsystem level and an overall systems level.

First we examine a lower level Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) problem in the hierarchy. We show how we develop a hybrid dynamical systems model for multi-phase heat exchangers, along with a time scale separation, that allows us to compactly represent the behavior of these complex subsystems in a form amenable for diagnostics and control. In addition to the modeling developments, a modular simulation environment using a MATLAB/Simulink platform will be presented. The modular software environment allows for a rapid model development, modification, and verification. Additionally, it allows for real-time embedded model deployment. Validation of the tool will be presented.

The second half of this talk will focus on the overall building systems level. We present a motivation for why we believe a centralized approach to optimal operation may not be the best approach. Then, we present an approach for clustering building zones so as to create a decentralized architecture that balances achievable performance with tolerance to sensor/actuator faults. The clustering procedure is an agglomerative one in which we define 2 metrics that result in a Pareto-optimal tradeoff and then search for a Nash-like equilibrium between them. Subsequently, we design a model predictive control (MPC) approach for performing on-line optimization of controlled HVAC within a building. An Energy-Plus simulation of a commercial building under MPC control is given to demonstrate the approach.


Professor Alleyne received his B.S. in Engineering Degree from Princeton University in 1989 in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering in 1992 and 1994, respectively, from The University of California at Berkeley. He joined the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 1994 and is also appointed in the Coordinated Science Laboratory of UIUC. He currently holds the Ralph M. and Catherine V. Fisher Professorship in the College of Engineering. He was awarded the ASME Dynamics Systems and Control Division’s Outstanding Young Investigator Award and was a Fulbright Fellow to the Netherlands where he held a Visiting Professorship in Vehicle Mechatronics at TU Delft. He is the recipient of the 2008 ASME Gustus L. Larson Memorial Award and is also a Fellow of ASME. His research interests are a mix of theory and implementation with a broad application focus. In addition to research he has a keen interest in education and has earned the College of Engineering’s Teaching Excellence Award and the UIUC Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Education. He has been active in the ASME, the IEEE, and several other societies. Additionally, he has been active on several boards including the Scientific Advisory Board for the U.S. Air Force. Further information may be found at:

Thursday, November 21, 1:15 p.m., Towne 337

Na Zhang, Research Professor, Institute of Engineering Thermophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing
"Solar hybrid power system integration with low CO2 emissions"

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Abstract:Two novel gas/steam combined cycle power systems integrated with low/mid temperature solar heat thermo-chemical conversion and CO2 capture, with methanol as the input fuel, have been proposed and analyzed.

Methanol reformation or decomposition is highly endothermic and can achieve over 90% conversions into H2-rich syngas at temperatures around 250°C. Solar heat collected at 200-300°C can thus be used to heat the endothermic methanol reactions and is thereby converted into syngas chemical energy; it is further released as high temperature thermal energy via combustion for power generation, achieving a high-efficiency heat-power conversion in advanced combined cycle systems.

The syngas is processed with precombustion decarbonization. Methanol decomposition process produces H2 and CO enriched syngas (33.2%v CO and 66.5%v H2), and the reforming reaction produces H2 and CO2 enriched syngas because of the presence of large amount of steam in the reactant (CO2 24.4% and H2 74.7%). The difference of the syngas composition therefore leads to different considerations for system configuration and consequent system performances.

The thermodynamic performance of the proposed two systems are investigate and compared, using the ASPEN PLUS code. The results show that with a 91% CO2 capture ratio, the specific CO2 emissions in the decomposition and reformation systems are 33.8 and 33.4 g/kWh, respectively. Exergy efficiencies of 53.8% and 55.1% can be achieved, respectively. Approximately 30% of fossil fuel saving ratio is achievable with a solar thermal share of about 20%.

Bio: Dr. Na Zhang is a research professor at the Institute of Engineering Thermophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Beijing. She earned her bachelor’s degree in engineering from Tsinghua University, Beijing, in 1991 and the Ph.D. in the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1999. From 2002 to 2003, she was a visiting scholar in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Her major research includes gas turbine and combined cycles, cogeneration systems, coal-fired power systems, CO2 capture from power plants, power generation with liquefied natural gas cold exergy, and solar thermal power generation.

She has authored/co-authored more than 100 technical publications, and is an Associate Editor of Energy–the International Journal, and the Executive Editor of the Journal of Engineering Thermophysics (in Chinese).

Her honors include CAS’ President Fellowship Award (1996), the National Electric Power Company Science and Technology Progress Award (1999), the National Electric Power Science and Technology of China Award (2002), the Zhonghua Wu Outstanding Young Scientist Award (2008) and the Chinese National Natural Science Award (2009). She, along with Dr. Noam Lior, received a Best Paper Award from the ASME Advanced Energy Systems Division in 2004, and an ASME Society Award-the Edward F. Obert Award in thermodynamics, in 2010.

December 3

Irina Marinov, Lecturer, Department of Earth and Environmental Science, University of Pennsylvania
"The Southern Ocean and its critical role in the global carbon and heat cycles: now and under future climate change"

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The Southern Ocean is responsible for about half of the current uptake of anthropogenic CO2, and about 70% of the excess anthropogenic heat uptake transferred from the atmosphere into the ocean every year. Additionally, Southern Ocean nutrients support ¾ of global biological production everywhere north of 30S. The importance of the Southern Ocean circulation for climate is intimately related to its circulation and the areas where Antarctic bottom water (AABW) forms. The AABW is a key component of the so-called Global Thermohaline Circulation: it exports water, heat, carbon, nutrients and oxygen out of the Southern Ocean, ventilating – and changing the properties of – the vast majority of deep waters in the rest of the world ocean. Anoxic events and changes in atmospheric CO2 in past climates have been attributed to the stagnation of this circulation.

Despite its absolutely critical importance for global climate, the Southern Ocean in general and the deep water formation areas in particular are the least understood region of the world ocean, particularly because of the sparcity of observations and our incomplete understanding of high latitude dynamics. Understanding the response of the Southern Ocean carbon uptake and storage to the changing climate is a prerequisite for predicting future global temperatures and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. How much will the AABW, Antarctic sea-ice coverage, hydrological cycle and biological productivity change over the 21st century? Will the efficiency of heat and carbon uptake in the Southern Ocean weaken or strengthen in the future? I will review some of our knowledge to date, discuss my group’s research in this direction and propose future modeling projects in this exciting subfield of climate sciences.


Irina Marinov is an Assistant Professor in the Earth & Environmental Sciences dept. at Penn. She is a BA graduate of Middlebury College, where she studied physics, mathematics, and many other interesting things. After receiving her 2005 PhD in Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences from Princeton, Irina spent a few years as a postdoctoral researcher in Climate at MIT and at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. At Penn, Irina teaches two undergraduate classes: ENVS204:"Global Climate Change" and ENVS312/PHYS314: "Ocean-Atmosphere Dynamics and Implications for Climate Change", and leads a research group in Oceanography and Climate. Irina and her group run huge (1 million lines of code) climate models to predict future changes in climate, with a particular focus on the role of the oceans in the global heat and carbon cycle. My group’s research is highly interdisciplinary, at the intersection of ocean/atmosphere physics (fluid mechanics), aquatic chemistry, biology (photosynthesis and biological evolution), computer science (numerical methods and data analysis), running, and mathematics (differential equations, statistics). I am presently looking for undergraduate and graduate students interested in joining my group. Our website is: