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Volcanology

"Freigeist" Fellowship for LMU Junior Researcher Dr. Wenjia Song

München, 07/30/2015

Dr. Wenjia Song of LMU impressed the international committee of experts of the Volkswagen Foundation with his research on volcanic ash deposition on jet engines. The chemical engineer has been awarded a "Freigeist" fellowship worth 986,200 euros.

Dr. Wenjia Song (Source: Wenjia Song)

Volcanic ash can cause major disruptions to air travel, as made abundantly clear when the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland forced the grounding of around 100,000 flights. The ash deposits on hot components of the aircraft turbines, clogs fuel nozzles and coats turbine buckets and guide vanes. There is also a risk that ash particles will penetrate into the thermal barrier coatings (TBC) of hot turbine components, where it can cause severe damage or even a total failure of the turbines.

Dr. Wenjia Song at the Chair of Mineralogy and Petrology of LMU is studying in his five-year interdisciplinary project what conditions can be detrimental to turbine performance and how these effects can be mitigated. In the words of the international committee of experts, Song’s research project moves between established research fields and pursues unconventional, high-risk and thus completely open-minded science.

The chemical engineer is exploring ways to improve TBC resistance to damage from volcanic ash. To this end, Song is combining chemical engineering concepts with biomimetic approaches like the lotus effect, for example. His methods make use of latest-generation technologies such as ash fusion tests, thermal spray technology and ultrapulse laser technology as used in geomaterials research and optical physics. His investigations deal with the influences of ash deposits in turbines on a macroscopic and microscopic scale.

Dr. Wenjia Song was selected for the "Freigeist" Fellowship of the Volkswagen Foundation along with seven other researchers from various scientific disciplines. Since 2007, the scientist Song has already received 13 distinctions for his achievements in studies and research. He has worked at the Chair of Mineralogy and Petrology of Professor Dingwell since 2012, and has previously researched in China and Japan.

"Freigeist" Fellowship of the Volkswagen Foundation