College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

CoMFRE jet atomization project captures unseen physics

For the past four years, Kumar Saurabh, a grad student in mechanical engineering, has focused on developing new jet atomization algorithms to accurately capture the formation of droplets and necessary physics. Current approaches based on dynamic adaptive meshing become computationally intractable when capturing these multi-scale phenomena.

“This project gives you a new set of algorithms that people can use to simulate multiphase flow and break down unseen physics that you cannot just capture through experiments,” Saurabh said.

Saurabh’s new algorithm adapts the background mesh size depending on the background regions of interest (filaments/sheets/droplets) and finds a balance between the computational cost and physics of interest; He said this is an important consideration in simulating complex phenomena in a reasonable amount of time. 

Saurabh collaborated closely with Makrand Ajay Khanwale (21 Ph.D. mech engr and applied math), who is now a postdoctoral research associate at Stanford University, on the project, among others. Baskar Ganapathysubramanian, Joseph C. and Elizabeth A. Anderlik Professor in Engineering, director of the AI Institute for Resilient Agriculture, and professor of mechanical engineering, is Saurabh’s research group leader. 

Saurabh said he felt lucky to have such supportive mentorship from Ganapathysubramanian and Adarsh Krishnamurthy, an associate professor of mechanical engineering, for his interest in algorithmic development to solve challenging science problems. He felt fortunate to work with some of the brightest minds on his journey to developing new algorithms and methods to capture unseen physics.

Besides hearing about Iowa State University’s prestigious mechanical engineering program, being a part of Ganapathysubramanian’s research group was a driving force for Saubrah’s decision to apply to Iowa State. He knew he would gain valuable experience on both the computational and application side.

“Baskar is one of the best mentors that anyone in graduate school can get,” Saubrah said. “He talks about new, novel ideas and pushes his students to do things that haven’t been done before.”

Through CoMFRE, Saurabh also found opportunities to meet with other dedicated professors who provide fantastic guidance towards solutions.

“Studying at Iowa State is a fantastic experience where I get to do what I love. I’ve worked with some of the largest machines, explored various fields and developed skills in many areas of interest,” Saurabh said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better place to work with state-of-the-art engineering and push my limits.”

Other collaborators: Masado Ishii (graduate student) and Hari Sundar (associate professor) from the School of Computing, University of Utah.