Model to improve steel manufacturing – by way of the International Space Station

Jonghyun Lee, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and CoMFRE faculty member, is leading a multiyear, $750,000 project titled Modeling and Simulations of Electrostatically Levitated Multiphase Liquid Drops.

Lee and his team, alongside professor of mechanical engineering and Joseph C. and Elizabeth A. Anderlik Professor in Engineering Baskar Ganapathysubramanian, are developing a numerical model that will predict what will happen to liquid metals and oxides during experiments in space. The soundness of the numerical model will validate the experiments using the solution electrostatic levitator developed by Lee’s team.

“The results will support the accurate measurement of interfacial tension between molten steel and molten oxides using the electrostatic levitation furnace aboard the International Space Station – and will also help interpret the data downloaded from the ISS experiments,” said Lee.

Eventually, Lee’s model and the ISS experiments will improve the molten steel manufacturing process by making its thermophysical properties and, therefore, the process prediction, more accurate.

“The measured interfacial tension will be utilized to better understand and control the slag emulsification during continuous casting and welding processes,” said Lee.

Lee’s project is funded by NASA and includes collaborators at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency in Tsukuba, Japan and Gakushuin University in Tokyo.