Mona Ghassemi receives Ministry of Energy Early Career Research Program Award

Mona Ghassemi, Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Bradley, received the Department of Energy’s Early Career Research Award to develop a comprehensive plasma model from initiation of discharge to flashover to predict failures electrical in electrical insulating materials.

Low temperature controlled plasmas or non-thermal plasmas in air at atmospheric pressure are of interest for various technologies including plasma display applications, ozone production, exhaust gases, surface treatments , cancer treatments and pollution control, Ghassemi said. But a sudden occurrence of such plasmas or discharges in an insulation system is highly undesirable.

Such discharges can lead to electrical failure or bypass, resulting in complete failure of the insulation system of an electrical device. Problems like these are critical to address, Ghassemi said, because of the important role insulation systems play in the technologies we use.

“A major challenge for most current technologies and technologies of the future is the compact and reliable design of electrical insulation systems for their electrical components,” said Ghassemi, who is the Steven O. Lane Junior Faculty Fellow and also a Faculty member of the College of Engineering. “All electrical devices have insulation. Electrical insulators are materials with high resistivity that allow them to prevent electric current from flowing where it is not wanted.

Ghassemi’s $ 750,000 grant over five years will support his work to fill a gap in plasma modeling. Currently, there is no complete model of all the discharges that can lead to the breakdown of an insulation system. For non-thermal plasma, some studies have focused on a single mechanism or only on the transition from one discharge mechanism to another. For thermal plasma, existing studies have focused only on the conditions following the appearance of an electric arc or a flashover. In both cases, a systematic study leading to a complete model including all the discharge mechanisms is lacking, Ghassemi said.

Ghassemi will develop a complete plasma model for thermal and non-thermal plasmas using a hydrodynamic approach. The project aims to build the model sequentially, supported by experimental diagnostics covering a wide range of parameters.

“The model should answer the question of whether or not there will be an electrical failure for a given complex geometry of electrodes and insulation systems under a given voltage waveform,” Ghassemi said. “The work has the potential to address industrial applications and is of great importance for high voltage systems. “

The Department of Energy’s Early Career Research Program is designed to strengthen the country’s scientific workforce by supporting outstanding researchers in their crucial early career years, when many scientists are performing. their most formative work. The awards program is very competitive – only 83 scientists from across the country were selected in 2021.

The Ghassemi Prize marks her third early career award as a faculty member at Virginia Tech. In 2020, she made history as the second member of her department to receive the CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation and the Young Investigator Research Program Award from the Department of Defense Air Force Office of Scientific Research the same. year.

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