Kiwi Combustion Dudes: Page Two

Dr. X. Dong Chen, 11th February 1999 X. Dong Chen obtained his Bachelor of Engineering Degree in Engineering Thermophysics from the Department of Engineering Mechanics, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China in 1987. He worked briefly in the Combustion Laboratory at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing before coming to NZ to work on the spontaneous combustion of coal for his PhD. In early 1991, he was awarded a PhD in Chemical and Process Engineering, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand. Dong then started working as a Research Engineer at New Zealand Dairy Research Institute in Palmerston North and was subsequently promoted to Senior Research Engineer after 18 months. Dong made a significant contribution in the understanding of milk powder agglomeration (fundamentals and industrial operations) and in improving the powder functionality for the NZ dairy industry. In September 1993, Dong joined the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering at The University of Auckland as a Lecturer. Within a year he was soon promoted to Senior Lecturer and in February 1998, he was promoted to Associate Professor.

Dong has a variety of interests in research covering heat, mass transfer and chemical kinetics in food process engineering, separation processes including drying, membrane separation, oil fractionation and aqueous two-phase partitioning, fermentation processes, self-heating processes and fire protection engineering etc. Dong has some 200 publications including 80 journal papers, 80 conference papers and over 50 technical reports to private sponsors. Dong is the leader of the Food and Biochemical Engineering Cluster, one of the 12 Research Clusters in the Auckland School of Engineering. He is also the Academic Co-ordinator of the Biotechnology Teaching Program at the School, and the Fermentation Laboratories. He is the current President of Food Engineering Association (NZ). He was the recipient of 1995 Merit Award for Excellence in Teaching, School of Engineering.

Dong has close working relationships with NZ industries and has carried out significant amounts of applied process engineering research. He has also acted as a consultant on many occasions for various companies. His strength has been to provide new and simple ideas to complex problems and also apply fundamental theories in an innovative fashion.

Source: Citation for the Shedden Uhde Medal in 1999 for "...practical services to the profession and practice of chemical engineering in Australia/New Zealand."

Dong was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2001 in recognition of his work solving many practical engineering problems for the New Zealand food processing industry. By identifying the key elements of these problems and modelling them mathematically Dong Chen has been ble to suggest improvements in the processes, increasing efficiency and cutting costs. He has also developed a new and much cheaper test for determining the mechanism of spontaneous combustion in milk powders and sawdust.

Source: A news item on the Department of Chemical & Materials Engineering web page at the University of Auckland.

Dr. X. Dong Chen giving a presentation at the Combustion Meeting in Honour of Professor B.F. Gray, 11-12 February 1999, Mollymook, NSW, Australia. Photograph by Mark Nelson.

Human fireball myth up in flames. An article from The Dominion (Wednesday November 4 1998) with a good photograph of Dong.

Rose Gong, 11th February 1999 Ying (Rose) Gong graduated Master of Engineering fron China and came to to New Zealand in the early nineties. She enrolled in a Doctor of Philosophy degree in (Applied) Mathematics while simultaneously working in in a Public Good Science funded program in car emissions in 1993. Her work involved a mix of engineering and mathematical approaches to the problem of spontaneous ignition in wet coals. The PhD research involved the investigation of the effect of water on the ignition characteristics of brown coals, which both inhibits and enhances the likelihood of spontaneous ignition. This reaearch was supervised by Professor Graeme Wake and Dr John Burnell of Industrial Research Ltd and was partly funded under a Marsden Fund program. The model and its analysis has also been published in the International Journal: Combustion Theory and Modelling.

Using the heat and mass balances it is possible to analyse the onset of ignition by detecting mathematically the threshold of gross parametric sensitivity the thermal response. The complex chemistry incorporated in the model enables the effect of water in both the liquid and vapour phases to be quantified. In certain parameter ranges it is found that the presence of liquid water increases the likelihood of spontaneous ignition. This is experimentally observed in recently mined brown coals during transport. Precise limits can be derived from this analysis thus establishing precise criteria to underpin practical procedures in "decision support".

The analysis uses the modern day parameter path-following methods which detects computationally the swaps in stability and the onset of oscillatory behaviour, signaling the likelihood of a thermal event (catastrophe). The research looks at the two situations: without and with spatial structure. The latter case shows the presence of a "heat-curtain" which is highly significant as it occurs as a consequence of the presence of water in the model.

Ying Gong (Rose) is now working full-time as a Science-leader in Victoria-Link on the work involved in Car Emissions.

Source: University of Auckland October 2000 Convocation Booklet, page 82.

Rose Gong at the Combustion Meeting in Honour of Professor B.F. Gray, 11-12 February 1999, Mollymook, NSW, Australia. Photograph by Mark Nelson.

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Page Created: 12th April 2000.
Last Updated: 5th January 2001.