CCS Seminar – Professor Emily Ryan

CCS Seminar
Friday – May 8, 2015
2:00 pm
Physics Research Building – Room 595
3 Cummington Mall

Professor Emily Ryan
Department of Mechanical Engineering and  the Division of Materials Science and Engineering
Boston University

Using Numerical Methods to Engineer the next generation of energy systems


The development and design of new technologies for energy conversion and storage is central to curbing climate change and developing a sustainable energy future. This talk will focus on the role that numerical methods can play in engineering these devices and the challenges associated with them.

Energy systems, such as fuel cells, batteries, and power plants, are complex systems which involve physics at multiple length and time scales. Understanding the operation of the overall system depends on understanding the detailed physics happening at lower length scales within the system. Experimental investigations alone are not able to resolve all of the physics at the scales necessary to understand the operation, performance and degradation of these devices over their lifetime.

Numerical methods can be used to resolve the smaller scale details of these systems and to investigate aspects of the systems that are intractable experimentally. Developing numerical methods to accurately simulate energy systems is a complicated problem with many challenges of its own. Although computational resources continue to improve, complex engineering systems still require large computational resources and compute times. Additionally understanding and quantifying the uncertainties in numerical models is critical to developing confidence in the models’ abilities to accurately predict the operation and performance of energy systems.

In this talk I will discuss several areas of ongoing computational research into the development of models of the physics of energy systems, upscaling methodologies for modeling large devices, and on quantifying the uncertainties of numerical methods and the propagation of uncertainties through length scales.

About the Speaker: Professor Emily Ryan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Division of Materials Science and Engineering at Boston University. She received her Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 2009, where her dissertation research focused on numerical modeling of chromium poisoning in the cathode of a solid oxide fuel cell. After graduating from Carnegie Mellon she worked as a post-doctoral research associate and staff computational scientist in the Computational Mathematics and Engineering group at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). Since joining Boston University in 2012, she founded the Computational Energy Laboratory, which focuses on the development of computational models of advanced energy systems, including fuel cells, carbon capture technologies, and advanced battery technologies. Funding for her research comes from the Department of Energy, Samsung Electric Corporation, and Boston University.