Rasmussen wins prestigious NSF CAREER Award for dynamics and control research

April 13, 2007
| By: Aubrey Bloom

COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Dr. Bryan Rasmussen, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University, has received a 2007 CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for his dynamics and control research. The $400,000 grant will continue through 2012. Rasmussen's work focuses on developing robust, model-based control techniques for nonlinear systems, and applying these tools to a diverse set of energy-systems technologies. His current focus is on heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems that use two-phase fluids to transfer energy. Rasmussen said that by effectively modeling the complex dynamics of these processes, researchers can find better ways of controlling the systems for increased energy efficiency. In his CAREER-sponsored research, Rasmussen will develop control strategies and diagnostic algorithms for air-conditioning and refrigeration systems, particularly those using carbon dioxide (CO2) as a refrigerant. CO2 is at the forefront as a potential replacement for traditional refrigerants, which have significantly higher global warming potential. However, the higher operating pressures of these systems require advanced control and diagnostic strategies to ensure safe, efficient operation, Rasmussen said. Beyond developing advanced control strategies, Rasmussen is proposing to use transient data with the dynamic models to identify and diagnose faults before a system fails. "We want to be able to detect the 'soft' system faults that precede catastrophic system failure." Rasmussen said. Rasmussen's laboratory, the Thermo-Fluids Control Laboratory, focuses on using advanced control strategies to achieve higher energy efficiency, reduced environmental impact and increased performance for conventional and alternative energy systems. CAREER Award will go toward building an experimental transcritical vapor compression system using CO2, which will complement the existing subcritical system currently in the lab. He will also use his CAREER Award to emphasize undergraduate research by assessing the efficacy of current programs and coordinating a set of research experiences in his lab. These students will then have the opportunity to apply their research results as interns with partnering companies. "Research shows that participation in undergraduate research leads to higher retention of students within engineering and increases the likelihood that students will attend graduate school," Rasmussen said, "and we want to encourage that." Rasmussen joined the Texas A&M Engineering faculty in 2006. He earned a bachelor's degree from Utah State University, and master's and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, all in mechanical engineering.

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