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UNIVERSITY AT BUFFALO, NY, USA

PROMOTING INDUSTRIAL
INNOVATION WITH CUSTOM
SIMULATION APPS

A research group at the University at Buffalo is sharing simulation expertise across a wide
variety of industries through custom simulation applications. These apps allow an end user to perform
the desired analyses without needing the understanding and expertise that is required to
develop the underlying computational model.

by BRIDGET CUNNINGHAM

L ook at any industry today, from          models to analyze and design materials      FIGURE 1. The geometry of an EDLC and a
         automotive design to consumer     and devices for industrial purposes.        plot indicating the predicted capacitance.
         electronics, and you will nd      Now, the potential for the team to
 a common thread that binds them           extend the reach of their expertise         COMSOL® software models with the
 together: the demand for more             to a broader range of industries is         goal of helping industries continue on
 innovative technology. The latest and     growing, thanks to the ability to create    the path of innovation and growth.
 greatest technologies are continuously    customized simulation apps using
 surpassed by even more complex and        COMSOL Multiphysics® software.                 When it comes to energy storage, for
 intricate devices that offer advanced                                                 example, electrochemical-based devices
 features and functionality.               ð BRINGING MODELING                         like electric double-layer capacitors
                                           EXPERTISE TO MANY                           (EDLCs) are becoming more and more
    Numerical simulation tools are a       INDUSTRIES                                  common. Favored over traditional
 viable solution to the challenge of                                                   capacitors for their signi cantly
 creating more elaborate devices quickly,  For Furlani, multiphysics modeling has      greater capacitance, these devices offer
 delivering results with real-world        always been an important element in         potential for new operating scenarios
 accuracy without the need for building    day-to-day work. As a research scientist    that require several rapid charge/
 prototypes for each design modi cation.   at Eastman Kodak, he performed              discharge cycles. In the capacitors, ions
 Some organizations, however, may not      modeling in support of material and         separate and accumulate on the surface
 have the resources to bring a simulation  device development for commercial           of the oppositely charged electrodes
 expert on board to help create and        products, including inkjet systems and      in response to an applied voltage. By
 modify models. This is where simulation   myriad digital imaging technologies.        developing models, Furlani’s group,
 applications come in. These customized    Furlani also developed models for a         in collaboration with Professor Gang
 user interfaces are built around          range of industry needs, from photonics     Wu at UB, has been able to predict
 numerical simulations of physics-based    and micro uidics to applied magnetics       ion transport and equilibrium charge
 systems and allow an end user to run      and microsystems technology. In his         accumulation within the devices, as well
 multiphysics analyses set up for them by  current role as a professor at UB, Furlani  as their capacitance, to foster a better
 simulation specialists.                   incorporates multiphysics software into     understanding of their behavior and
                                           the classroom to further help students      how to optimize their designs
    With over 30 years of modeling         learn and develop their engineering         (see Figure 1).
 experience in the industrial sector,      skills in an interactive way using
 Edward Furlani, a professor in the        computational tools.                           Membrane technology is another
 School of Engineering and Applied                                                     popular point of interest in the
 Sciences at University at Buffalo (UB)       The focus of Furlani’s group at UB       industrial community, with uses
 SUNY with joint appointments in the       is highly interdisciplinary and re ects     ranging from seawater desalination
 Departments of Chemical and Biological    industrial and academic research.           to CO2 removal from natural gas.
 Engineering and Electrical Engineering,   His graduate students develop               Designing thin- lm composite (TFC)
 saw an opportunity to bring numerical     multiphysics computational models
 simulation to a greater number of         for the development of products with
 organizations. His idea: Organize         functionality engineered all the way
 a university group that could work        from the nanoscale to the macroscale.
 together to develop mathematical          His group has created a number of

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