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Engineering

Dr Gerald Muller Dipl.-Ing., Ph,D.

Associate Professor

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Dr Gerald Muller is Associate Professor within Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Southampton. He is a civil engineer with a broad experience in industry and academia.

Gerald started his professional career with a degree in civil and structural engineering, and worked in industry designing mostly reinforced concrete industrial buildings. From 1989 to 1993 he did a PhD at Queen’s University Belfast on wave induced loadings on shoreline wave power stations. After two years as a postdoc, he joined the academic staff at QUB as a lecturer. He left in 2005 to take up a Senior Lecturer position at the University of Southampton.

His Qualifications are:

(1)   Dipl.-Ing. FH Frannkfurt, 1985

(2)   MSC Queen’s University Belfast, 1987

(3)   Ph.D. Queen’s University Belfast, 1993

His main interests are in the areas of fluid mechanics, renewable energy, and the development of technology for the use of low-grade heat.

His principal achievements over the last years were:

(1)   The development – and this includes theoretical and laboratory work plus in some cases the full scale demonstration – of hydropower devices for ultra-low head differences below 2.5 m in 2010.

(2)   the coordination of a large EC-financed research project on low head hydropower (Hylow, €3.6M, 2008-2012),

(3)   The development of a cost-effective heat engine for the re-use of waste steam and low-grade heat.

(4)   The development of an engineering approach to beaver dams in 2016. This led to the recognition that beaver dams, and nature based solutions based on their design principles, provide an inspiration for sustainable water management in arid countries.

(5)   The development of a novel heat engine, the condensing engine, for the cost-effective use of low grade temperature thermal energy e.g. from waste steam, waste heat, solar thermal or geothermal energy.

(6)   The analysis of energy dissipation mechanisms in aerated flow combining fluid and thermodynamics in 2020. This work introduced thermodynamic effects such as compressible flow into civil engineering hydraulics.

Research interests

His main research areas are:

  • Hydropower with low and ultra-low head differences
  • Heat engines for low grade heat sources
  • Thermodynamics in civil engineering hydraulics
  • Nature based solutions for sustainable water management

PhD Supervision

Currently he is supervising three Ph.D. projects:

1.     Power generation from high-energy density flows in irrigation canals. Candidate: Magali Rodriguez

2.     Development of Ultra-low Head Hydropower Converters for Application in Irrigation Canals. Candidate: Phoebe Pellew

The Condensing Engine for Low Grade Waste Heat Recovery, and it’s Integration with Solar Thermal Panels for Standalone Energy Production and Water Purification. Candidate: Curtis Howell

Research Projects

Development of a solar thermal system for water desalination and power production from one process.

PI: Dr G Muller

CI: Dr M van Dijk, University of Stellenbosch

 

Hydropower converter for drop structures in irrigation systems

PI: Dr Sergio Maldonado, University of Southampton

CI: Dr Gerald Muller, University of Southampton

CI: Dr Zia ul-Haq, University of Technology and Engineering Peshawar, Pakistan

Research group

Water and Environmental Engineering Group

Research project(s)

System requirements for low-cost energy-efficient algal biomass cultivation for biofuel production

This research was funded by the Carbon Trust's Algal Biofuels Challenge programme, and aimed to provide the basis for design and engineering of cost-effective mass culture systems for algal production

Integrated solar thermal system for desalination / water purification and power generation

Academic Integrity Officer for Civil and Environmental Engineering

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Articles

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Conferences

CENV6175 Coastal and Maritime Engineering, Module Coordinator

FEEG6013 Group Design Project, Lecturer

FEEG6013 student project videos

There is a significant unused potential of hydropower with ultra-low head differences between 0 and 2.5 m in rivers and irrigation canals. We are developing cost-effective solutions for these conditions, mostly based on waterwheel; technology. The picture shows a prototype installation on the River Iskar / Bulgaria with a head difference of 1.0 m. Other technologies allow to exploit head differences as low as 0.20 m with efficiencies exceeding 80%.

Fig1

Low grade waste heat with temperatures between 70 and 120C is produced in many industrial processes. In some industries, waste steam is blown off into the atmosphere at very low pressures (usually below 0.5 bar) and temperatures of up to 110C. Existing technology such as ORC cycle systems are very complex and subsequently expensive. We are developing the condensing engine, originally designed be James Watt in the late 18th Century, further to adapt the technology to today’s environment and to improve it. This has led to a new type of engine, which improved efficiency and significantly increase range of operating temperatures: whilst James Watt’s engine could only operate at 100C, we have widened that range to 70 to 110C.

Fig2
Dr Gerald Muller
Engineering, University of Southampton, Southampton Boldrewood Innovation Campus, Burgess Road, Southampton, SO16 7QF

Room Number: 178/5007/B1


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