Hi! My name is Jordan, I’m a Washington native, and I never expected to end up here.
I came to college with a passion for renewables and started out as bioengineer. Unfortunately for me, the focus of that degree is actually medical school – not ideal. I transitioned to mechanical engineering (worst case scenario become a jack-of-all-trades, right?), and it wasn’t until taking thermodynamics with Dr. Leachman that I realized renewables existed within that major as well.
I had never considered hydrogen. After all, all anyone talked about was it exploding so I never considered it viable. After learning that was not in fact true, I once again began pursuing renewables by joining the HYPER Lab in Fall 2017 as a junior. I was given my own project under Carl Bunge and got to work.
Did you know that it costs about $10,000 to launch one pound of material into space? The technology that I developed could be attached to the outside of an aircraft, allowing oxygen reservoirs for breathing purposes to be filled while the aircraft passes through the atmosphere, saving tens of thousands of dollars. It could also be used as a replacement to distillation columns, or portable medical oxygen tanks.
The basis of the tech is a Ranque-Hilsch vortex tube with six rare-earth magnets mounted along the periphery. A calibrated air mixture is liquefied upon entry into the vortex tube, allowing us to take advantage of the paramagnetic properties of liquid oxygen and increase oxygen purity of the gas. Previous research has investigated the paramagnetic properties and vortex tube dynamics separately. With an inlet oxygen percentage of about 21%, we were able to achieve an outlet percentage of almost 42%. For more information you can either read the paper I wrote being published in Advances in Cryogenic Engineering or peruse the poster I presented at the 2019 Cryogenic Engineering Conference (CEC). Future work needs to be done with varying geometries, cold fractions, and gas mixtures. This project helped me earn the Donna Jung Scholarship at CEC well for being the top female student in the country within the field.
I’m now a graduate student within the lab and working with hydrogen rather than oxygen. I am part of a Department of Defense contract to create a small-scale (<5 ton/day) hydrogen refueling station for drones where I am responsible for the liquefaction and thermal components of the project. I run two teams of undergraduate students to work through thermal modeling, as well as hands-on building.
Current liquefaction systems are large-scale because low component efficiencies do not make it cost effective to build on a small-scale. The goal of my research is to make small-scale more feasible, therefore increasing accessibility and potential applications. For instance, this technology could bring about a surge of offshore windmills, and help store power from other renewables in general. Accounting for the integration of catalyst will further this potential by minimizing future boil off, therefore lowering buying costs.
For my thesis I am optimizing a small-scale heat exchanger that will be placed within the hydrogen dewar to assist with cooling utilizing the principle of entropy minimization. I am also integrating catalyst to help facilitate the ortho-para conversion. All of my modeling is being done in Engineering Equation Solver (EES), and once my models are complete, I will build the real systems and use the experimental results to validate my theory. (Coming soon to the internet near you Spring 2021)