Meet the Researcher - Amanda Weaver

Breakout Room: 11

Amanda_WeaverPictureResearcher Name: Amanda Weaver
Title of Research: Hydrogen for aerospace travel, the new climate change mitigation technology
Division Representing: Engineering
Institution: Georgia Southern University
Institution Location: Georgia 
Home State: Georgia
District Number: 12
Advisor/Mentor: Valentin Soloiu
Funding Source: College of Engineering and Computing Georgia Southern internal grant; NSF-DoD ASSURE

Research Experience: 
Since I was a little girl, I have always been fascinated with the environment and how mechanical devices work in connection with that. I enjoyed the beauty the Earth and advanced technologies that can keep the world in pristine condition. This elegance is something I saw in nature as well. Growing up I saw the Planet Earth series and was enthralled by the magnificence of both our planet and of the stars above. I love the idea of space travel and that we, as a species, can explore places that were previously unknown. Though we continue to make amazing strides in the pursuit of the impossible, consideration must be made to the fragile ecosystems currently under threat from our technologies. Damages done by the emissions caused by the burning of fossil fuels are one of the leading threats to the deterioration of Earth's environment. Therefore, the research that I have been doing at Georgia Southern's Aerospace lab is driven by my desire to unify my love for space and flight and my concern for the welfare of the environment. As of now, I have been a part of combustion studies on hydrogen fuel and produced a paper on transition fuels and a poster titled RCCI with High Reactivity S8-ULSD and Low-Reactivity n-Butanol.” The paper and the poster we then presented in the prestigious national conference in 2020, Denver, CO. This investigation has preceded my research into the feasibility of clean, hydrogen as an alternative fuel. 

Presentation Experience: 
In the last couple of years, during my college career, I have been involved in quite a few research projects followed by presentations in a scientific setting. One of the most exciting projects I designed an executed involved measuring the hydraulic pressure changes, noise, and vibration characteristics of an injection system for environmental compliance and passengers' comfort. My scientific goal of the project was to incorporate in the system, a sensor fusion with noise and vibration sensors coupled with hydraulic sensors to research the characteristics of aerospace hydrogen fuel. This is part of a DoD-NSF REU grant and I am very proud of my participation in a federal project. As part of the project, I had weekly presentations of my research progress. Recently, I applied with my project for my first grant with the College of Engineering and Computing. Winning this award, will allow me to continue to move forward with my research on hydrogen combustion characteristics. One of the more rewarding experiences I have had in the lab in the past year is the collaboration between Dr. Soloiu, my mentor, and the Institute for Interdisciplinary STEM Education focusing on underrepresented students where I did a lot of presentations for minority and disfavored students. Recent research resulted in with a peer-reviewed paper and a poster titled 'RCCI with High-Reactivity S8-ULSD and Low-Reactivity n-Butanol.' The paper and the poster I then presented in the prestigious national conference in 2020, Denver, CO.

Significance of Research: 
With the world moving toward more globalization it is unfortunate that the reliance on fossil fuels continues to increase for aerospace travel. My research tries to clarify the feasibility of hydrogen use for aerospace gas turbine compared to the latest generation of synthetic fuels. While synthetic fuels are energy dense and already available for the propulsion, they still increase harmful emissions which contribute to the climate change. If we continue this trend, these emissions are predicted by the FAA to triple by the year 2050 and continue the destruction of the ozone layer with catastrophic ice caps melting and irreversible climate changes. The most harmful of the emissions are NOx and CO2. Hydrogen has a high temperature flame and fast combustion that causes challenges for aircraft on board storage to the injection and combustion systems. At this stage of my research, I investigate in a combustion chamber the transition fuels like Fischer-Tropsch synthetic fuels. They have shown promise in reducing the emissions by a Negative Temperature Coefficient Region that influences the Low Temperature Heat Release and High Temperature Heat Release regions of the burn. The next stage is to inject hydrogen in the injection chamber to investigate the flame stability at various air to fuel ratio. The byproduct of hydrogen combustion is harmless and contains mostly water. My work will bring a contribution to maintaining a pristine environment and save the polar bears. 

Uniqueness of Research: 
This research will bring a solid contribution to the knowledge of hydrogen combustion in jet engines for a clean alternative to synthetic and fossil jet fuels. The air travel with jet engines could become much cleaner reducing the contribution to global warming while increasing population health and welfare. 


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