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Laboratory of Applied Thermodynamics

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The Laboratory of Applied Thermodynamics (LAT) was founded in 1974 and is part of the Energy Department in the School of Mechanical Engineering of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. LAT facilities cover an area of 600 m2 inside the Aristotle University Campus. 400 m2 are occupied by laboratory facilities, while the remaining 200 m2 are offices. LAT consists of approximately 20 engineers, technicians and secretarial staff and it has an annual turnover of approximately 600 k€. LAT is member of EARPA (European Automotive Research Partners Association) and has been ISO 9001:2000 certified since 2007.

LAT is equipped with modern testing instrumentation, which is regularly updated and extended. Vehicle engines can be tested in one of the three engine dynamometers with a maximum power of 350 kW. In addition LAT can conduct vehicle tests on its chassis dynamometer for light duty vehicles. Exhaust sampling and analysis is conducted by means of gas analyzers for regulated pollutants such as CO, CO2, NOx and HC. Moreover the exhaust sampling and analysis is further enhanced with the use of the ultra-fast NO, NO2, and HC analyzers, and a mass spectrometer for non-regulated pollutants. LAT is one of the most experienced and well-equipped laboratories in Europe concerning the measurement of particulate (PM) emissions from engines. The respective equipment consists of an array of particle instruments, such as classifiers, generators, counters and dilutors. The laboratory has also a “clean room” with high precision balances for filter weighing and a complete system for engine analysis. LAT has a synthetic gas bench with a high temperature tube furnace reactor, in order to conduct targeted experiments with various exhaust aftertreatment devices. Finally the laboratory is equipped with octane and cetane number testing units. The state of the art experimental facilities guarantee scientific excellence and innovation.

Activity Areas

The main focus of laboratory activities is on applied as well as basic research regarding exhaust emissions of Internal Combustion Engines. LAT possesses the required equipment and know-how on both testing and simulation methodologies in the field of emissions characterization and after-treatment.This is combined with substantial experience on emissions inventorying and forecasts from road traffic. Moreover, a part of LAT research activities is allocated in Energy Policy and renewable energy sources. Although the main LAT personnel consists of mechanical engineers, chemical and electrical engineers are also present as full-or part-time staff, together with technicians, currently running a total of more than ten research projects. In the past 20 years LAT has undertaken more than 60 research projects and studies related to energy technology and emissions control technology.These projects were funded by international organisations, national public organisations, as well as domestic and international industry (Europe, US, Asia). During the past 3 years, the average annual income of the Laboratory from research projects reached € 0.5 million. From the above funds, 15% stemmed from the Greek State, 50% from competitive projects of the European Commission, and 35% from partnerships with the Industry.

Internal Combustion Engines and Emission Control: LAT carries a 30-year long tradition in the field of characterization & control of automotive exhaust emissions. Experience has been gained through collaborations with the automotive and fuel industry as well as with suppliers of exhaust after-treatment systems. Today, LAT carries out high-level applied and basic research, facilitated by both experimental and modeling techniques. The experimental equipment is regularly updated, in order to support high quality measurements regarding real time gaseous and particulate emissions from engines and vehicles.These measurements are routinely carried out on the basis of legislated protocols (driving cycles), whereas R&D services are supported by flexibly customized testing protocols. State-of-the-art equipment is also available for the characterization of the physical and chemical properties of particulate emissions.

Modeling: Mathematical modeling is mainly supported by in-house software with the possibility to simulate complete exhaust after-treatment systems. These mathematical models are frequently employed to support R&D of various industrial partners. The modeling work frequently combines also commercial software for 3-D Fluid Dynamics Calculations (Star-CD™). Ongoing research is carried out towards extensive validations with experimental results and further modeling improvements.

AXITRAP, a state-of-the-art 3-dimensional model of the diesel particulate filter (DPF) developed at LAT, is currently employed supporting the design optimization of DPF systems in close collaboration with major industrial partners.

Multi-dimensional catalytic converter simulation, covering all types of stoichiometric and lean exhaust applications, including NOx traps, is performed by AXICAT.This in-house developed model is highly appreciated in the scientific literature and has been applied and validated in industrial projects.

Emissions Inventorying and Forecasting: With aim to assist member states to comply with their emission reporting obligations under mainly the UN LRTP and UN FCCC conventions, European Environment Agency and its Topic Centre on Air Emissions appointed LAT with the task of developing a road transport specific tool for estimating and reporting total emissions. Copert (currently in its Copert III version) is a MS Windows application, including the necessary emission factors, methodology and calculation algorithm to estimate road-transport emissions on national, regional or urban level at a year to day-long time resolution.

Copert III web-site provides the software itself, related documentation, application updates and any latest information that becomes available. Copert III is being used by several national authorities and academic or research institutions in various applications while the underlying methodology is also adopted by the EEA/EMEP Atmospheric Emission.

Having a well-documented static tool to calculate emissions on an annual basis, LAT undertook the task on behalf of Eurostat and Directorate General Transport and Environment to develop an emissions projection tool for transport in the framework of the TRENDS project (1998 -2002). TRENDS uses multiple inputs to provide emission projections up to year 2020. On the one hand, it implements the dynamic tools of Copert ID (future vehicle technologies, cleaner fuelsimpact, pollution control systems degradation, etc.). On the other hand, it incorporates a specific methodology to dynamically calculate activity data for each year. TRENDS has evolved into a software tool which may be used by European authorities to estimate scenario impacts and technology measures in their policy-making activities.

Renewable Energy Sources: LAT is active in the utilization of Renewable Energy Sources. It recently submitted a proposal to the General Secretariat of Research and Technology for the transformation of wind energy to H2 with intermediate storage, aiming at the optimal usage of the wind potential on the island electric grid.The long-term objective is the operation of hybrid power generation stations consisting of wind turbines and fuel cells for the energy autonomy of islands by Renewable Energy. Moreover, and in collaboration with other laboratories, LAT designed and developed a solar racing vehicle. The design project won the first prize in a national competition that was organised in the framework of the 2004 Cultural Olympiad. LAT then advanced in the construction of the vehicle in order to participate in the international solar car race "Phaethon 2004".The laboratory is also occupied with the performance evaluation of current in-use hybrid vehicles in terms of emissions, fuel consumption and energy profile. LAT uses models and vehicle optimization tools (ADVISOR), aiming at system level optimization.

Zisis Samaras

Professor, Director of the Laboratory of Applied Thermodynamics

Energy Department, Laboratory of Applied Thermodynamics

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