Credit: Virginia Tech
United States government agencies, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and NASA, all have aircraft or spacecraft engaged in some form of electric propulsion that requires increased power levels while operating in harsh environments — involving factors like temperature, vibration, and altitude — for a variety of applications.
Mona Ghassemi, assistant professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has received an Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Research Program award, a three-year grant of $450,000, to study the fundamental roots of insulation breakdown caused by low pressure and harsh environments, an issue at the heart of work being done by the DOD and NASA.
“Too little research has been dedicated to understanding insulation breakdown, and my approach is particularly novel in that it is aligned with national interest,” said Ghassemi. “The project is designed to develop new research capabilities and broaden the research base in support of U.S. national defense.”
Ghassemi’s study will use “theoretical”-based multiphysics modeling to understand phenomena behind partial discharge in solid dielectrics under low pressure; harsh temperatures in the -60°C to +180°C range; and humidity in the 0-100 percent range. Ghassemi will conduct experimental investigations to identify the critical frequency for various solid insulation systems with gas-filled cavities and electrode geometry in the air.
The Young Investigator Research Program is a highly competitive program open to promising scientists and engineers at research institutions across the United States to foster creative research in science and engineering; enhance early career development of outstanding young researchers; and increase opportunities for young researchers to recognize the science and engineering challenges related to the United States Air Force mission.
In addition to this award, Ghassemi recently received a five-year $500,000 National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development award to conduct research on accelerated aging of dielectrics used in power system components and develop thermo-electromagnetic transient models for power system apparatuses.
Ghassemi earned her Master of Science and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Tehran, Iran, in 2007 and 2012, respectively. Her professional involvement includes at-large member of the Administrative Committee of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation Society for 2020-2023; corresponding member of the IEEE Conference Publication Committee of the IEEE Power & Energy Society; and active member of several CIGRE working groups and the IEEE Task Forces. She is also a senior member of IEEE; a registered professional engineer in the Province of Ontario, Canada; and an associate editor of IEEE Transactions on Industry Applications, IET High Voltage, and the International Journal of Electrical Engineering Education.