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UKNHTC Webinar Series

Webinars on Heat Transfer by leading experts

The Programme

The UK National Heat Transfer Committee is running a series of  free webinars on heat transfer related topics delivered by world-class academics and industry practitioners.

The progamme and past presentations are summarised here. Please check this page for updates.

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Artificial Intelligence for Thermal Systems: the Good, the Bad, the Hybrid

Dr Francesco Coletti, Hexxcell Ltd. October 20th 2022

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has disrupted several industries and for very good reasons. AI algorithms, combined with large computational power and scalability of the cloud are capable of finding non-obvious correlations in a large amount of data, predict future trends and help optimise various types of operations.
Several success stories of AI applications in our daily lives range from facial recognition to language translators and digital assistants. In science and business, AI has helped multiple industries including medicine (e.g. medical records mining, assistance to doctors in diagnosis and surgery, better drug development in minimal time), marketing (e.g. predicting customer behaviour) and is making strides with autonomous vehicles and even general AI, a human-like artificial intelligence capable of understanding and learning any intellectual task that a human brain can.

What about Thermal Systems? In this seminar, aimed at heat transfer engineers that are seeking to better understand the potential of Artificial Intelligence, we will discuss the basis of algorithms, explain the differences between Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Deep Learning and examine the benefits and limitations of these technologies over traditional deterministic (physics based) models when applied to various thermal systems. We will also discuss how more advanced approaches such as Physics-informed AI and Hybrid-AI which combine the power and scalability of AI with deterministic models are currently being used to overcome the traditional limitations of AI methods.

Finally, we will use real-world examples that range from microscale phenomena (e.g. Pulsating Heat Pipes) to industrial applications (e.g. Heat Exchanger Networks) to illustrate the current capabilities of the methods, their limitations and their true potential to revolutionise the heat transfer sector.


Carbon Capture & Storage: Current Status of Technology

Dr Salman Masoudi, Brunel University London. January 13th 2022

Carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) has been recognised as an inseparable tool in our ongoing fight against climate change, as stated in the latest reports published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The technology collectively refers to a range of processes which capture CO2, one of the key contributing greenhouse gases to global warming, at the emission point for either permanent storage and/or reutilisation. This presentation will aim to depict a clear picture of the current status of carbon capture in the UK and around the globe. It will also try to illustrate the associated technologies developed around Carbon Capture, their pros and cons, and the areas which would need further improvement for viable deployment of the technology at scale. The presentation will conclude with a brief overview of the presenter’s current research around carbon capture.


Simulating vapour nucleation at nanoscale through diffuse interface modelling

Professor Marco Marengo, University of Brighton. November 18th 2021

The prediction of the nucleation rate of vapour is a very difficult challenge. It depends on many factors which are complex and engaged: liquid and wall temperature, pressure, surface characteristics. Also the value of temperature of boiling onset is very difficult to be determined a priori, and in many cases it remains a tuning parameter for the CFD simulations. Presently, molecular dynamics is the only universally trusted tool to let the nuclei spontaneously appear, capturing the proper statistical properties. However, it can be used only for synthetic or particular fluids and has enormous computational cost limits. An alternative approach based on the coupling of Fluctuating Hydrodynamics Theory and Diffuse Interface modeling is possible. This approach gives access to mesoscale systems (up to 1 micron cube) at a much cheaper computational cost, and it enables the spontaneous nucleation of vapor bubbles in metastable quiescent liquid, thanks to the proper description of thermal fluctuations. The aim of the talk is to show the ability of this novel approach to numerically analyse the boiling inception phenomenon, addressing the detailed mechanisms underlying the vapor bubble formation, and gaining new insights for the surprisingly low superheat level measured in the experiments on ultra-smooth surfaces.


Decarbonized Combustion: Research Needs for Zero Pollution

Professor Yannis Hardalupas, Imperial College London. October 7th 2021

Climate change is the biggest challenge that our society faces. In order to deliver the required reduction of carbon emissions, a smooth transition is needed from the existing infrastructure to a new approach that is yet to be agreed at an international level. As a consequence, combustion technologies are expected to remain important during the development of new infrastructure over the next 30 years. However, combustion technologies must be in a position to deliver zero pollution, which include carbon, NOx and particulates and other substances, specific to different industrial processes. The talk will identify and review different combustion technologies that can deliver net zero carbon emissions and overall zero pollution within short and medium timescales, which include:


1. Hydrogen and its vectors (e.g. Ammonia)

2. Supercritical CO2

3. Solar or e-fuels

4. Metal nanoparticle fuel


The relevance of these approaches to aviation, land and marine transport and power generation will be considered. The scientific challenges that future research must address in order to deliver these combustion technologies will be presented.


Increasing the capacity factor of concentrated solar thermal power plants

Professor Kamel Hooman, University of Queensland - July 15th

Concentrated solar thermal (CST) power plant is a promising sustainable option for electricity generation with much lower carbon footprint compared with traditional fossil-fuel-based power plants. The primary challenge, however, is to increase the capacity factor by generating electricity at night and under overcast conditions. This can be addressed by integrating thermal storage units into CST plants. Hence, sensible energy storage systems, relying on molten salts or particles, are currently used in several CST plants. In parallel, latent heat thermal energy storage, through the use of phase change materials, is attracting attention for bringing about excellent CST performance as the PCMs have relatively higher heat capacity thanks to the use of heat of fusion and lower temperature difference during phase transition. However, the thermal conductivity of PCMs are very low which impedes the heat transfer rate to or from the circulating heat transfer fluid. That is, the charging and discharging processes (i.e. melting and solidification) of the power plant are prolonged. This presentation analyses heat transfer augmentation to/from high temperature PCMs for CST plants. Numerical, experimental and theoretical techniques are used for this purpose. Technical limitations, challenges and future research direction on low-cost thermal storage system for CST plants will be touched on.

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Opportunities and challenges for additive manufacturing in chemical engineering research

Dr Jonathan McDonough, University of Newcastle - 20th May 2021 at 2 PM BST

Numerous process engineering applications are exploiting additive manufacturing (AM) to produce more advanced concepts that are delivering demonstrable performance improvements. In the subject area of heat transfer for example, this includes the fabrication of bespoke heat exchangers, recuperators and heat pipes, some of which are being used to deliver enhanced performance in real industrial settings. In this talk, Jonathan will provide an overview of additive manufacturing technology and its role in chemical engineering (and heat transfer) research. This will include an outline of the 7 main technologies as recognised by the joint ASTM/ISO standard, advantages for chemical engineering (and heat transfer), future opportunities, broad challenge areas, and specific chemical engineering challenges. Presently, AM might better be considered as an additional tool for the chemical engineer like any conventional manufacturing process, rather than a panacea. However, in the future AM might become a more integrated tool for the fabrication of plant equipment enabling the hybridisation of multiple unit operations. The main work prior to the realisation of the latter will be increasing the knowledge-base of intensified-technologies with an ‘AM mindset’. To this end, this talk will also highlight various state-of-the-art applications of AM developed by the Process Intensification Group at Newcastle University.

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Advances on the Evaporation and Wetting of Drops

Professor Khellil Sefiane, University of Edinburgh - Thusday, 22 April 2021 at 2 PM BST

The lecture will present the results of a series of studies on droplets evaporation and wetting. It will aim to elucidate the effects of substrate thermal properties as well as atmosphere nature and atmospheric conditions. The presentation will introduce the results of a study on internal flows driven by surface tension inside pure and binary droplets. It will also reveal some hydrothermal instabilities and patterns. The evaporation of complex fluids drops such as nanofluids and polymers will be introduced. Theoretical studies on evaporating droplets lifetimes and effect of wettability will be discussed. Following these fundamental aspects of droplets evaporation the lecture will introduce some concepts on the development of a Leidenfrost engine driven by droplets levitating on hot substrates.

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