An Institute centered around three axes of research

The laboratory is divided into eight research teams: Aerodynamics; Self-organization; Biomechanics; Geophysical and Rotating Flow; Fragmentation, Mixing, and Combustion; Biophysical and Soft Materials; Ocean Atmospheric Structures; and Turbulence. The Institute’s scientific research, as well as its researchers and teaching professors’ expertise, are centered around three axes of research. Below are some sample studies being conducted in each area.

Flow, Materials, Industrial Processes

A variety of fundamental theoretical, experimental, and computational studies have been conducted on different types of aerodynamic flow. These have been carried out in collaboration with many companies in the aeronautical field including Airbus, Airbus Helicopters, ONERA, and Liebherr Aerospace.

The stability of non-streamlined obstacle wakes and detached wall flow are being analyzed in order to find control strategies.

Experiments are being conducted on the issue of noise introduced by various flows, specifically on controlling acoustical resonance in corrugated tunnels that transport gas.

Characterizing meandering rotor wake is a principle issue required to guarantee stability of helicopter flight. This study also allows us to better understand the interaction between wakes generated by rotor blades in wind farms.

Research is being conducted in collaboration with PSA Peugeot-Citroën to study the risks associated with using hydrogen stored under high pressure for combustible battery use.

IRPHE has a large number of combustion rigs used to study flame propagation occurring in rocket engines, which are used for collaborations with CNES.

Flow between coaxial disks in the pumps of the Ariane rocket’s cryogenic motors are studied with the help of specific experimental devices in collaboration with SNECMA (Safran Aircraft Engines).

With regard to materials science, the process of liquid solidification generates multiple inhomogeneities that influence the properties of the resulting solid. Understanding this dynamic is essential on a fundamental basis (morphogenesis), as well as for its applications (metallurgy). Experimental and theoretical studies focus on experiments related to liquid atomization and fragmentation of solids. Although these studies are heuristic in nature, the knowledge gained can be applied to optimizing pulverization within motors or the grinding properties of abrasive chemicals, among other things.

The mechanical and physiochemical properties of soft particle suspensions are also studied, as their applications are particularly important in the cosmetics and the food

Natural Surroundings, Environment, Universe

Fundamental research is conducted to study geo- and astrophysical flow. Vortex dynamics in stratified environments (analogous to those of the ocean, even accretion discs), are experimentally modeled and reproduced. Using specific experimental devices in the lab, inertia instability of rotating fluids is studied in order to reproduce the phenomena of libration, precession and tides in planetary interiors.

A number of theoretical and experimental studies focus on wind-generated waves, and in particular, the creation of devastatingly destructive waves.

Breaking waves, currents and the resulting sedimentary transport in coastal zones are a both a social and a scientific issue. Complementary approaches including land measures, lab experiments, and integrated modeling have been implemented to help improve how these phenomena are predicted.

Multiple experimental devices (including wave channels and a hexapod) allow for the characterization of hydrodynamic impact which has applications in offshore engineering and for issues associated with sloshing in tanks transporting liquids.

The Institute uses a large air-water wind tunnel managed by Aix-Marseille University’s OSA PYTHEAS structure to conduct trials in collaboration with AREVA with the goal of developing floating offshore wind farms.

Additional experiments in the wind tunnel are dedicated to other environmental issues including the study of aerosol deposits that are released during industrial accidents over green spaces.

Collaborative studies with the CEA focus on reactive plumes and can be applied to “oceanic” trapping of carbon dioxide.

Studies using models in a hydraulic canal are conducted in collaboration with IRSTEA on sedimentary erosion of river barriers and the resulting risk of structural breaches


Environment and Biological Systems

Numerous topics related to the field of health care are studied in collaboration with medical organizations (Otorhinolaryngology Department at l’Hôpital La Timone, Vascular Surgery Department at the Hôpital Nord de Marseille, etc.)

Studies are conducted in collaboration with Air Liquide Santé International and include in vivo characterization of glottal activity through the use of a laryngo fiberscope, as well as studying aerosol transport mechanisms within upper air passages, in order to improve inhalation therapies.

The interaction processes between fluids, structures, and cells present in type A aortic dissections have been modeled.

Other studies focus on arterial wall pathologies in the context of developing biomimetic materials, as well as the biomechanical and electrochemical couplings present in the intervertebral discs. A bioreactor is being developed in collaboration with INSERM to create biomimetic tissue and shows very promising potential.

Other studies aim to understand the dynamic and deformation of capsules and vesicles in solution to study their role of encapsulating active agents.

The environment is the subject of fundamental studies, including modeling the interaction between a fluid and a swimming body. These studies aim to quantify the underlying physical mechanisms and apply them to the field of bio-inspired underwater robotics. Ciliary and flagellar propulsion is also being studied, as well as the behavior of objects swimming in groups, in particular modeling schools of fish.

Models are studied in conjunction with INRA regarding the architecture and growth of trees in order to better understand resource allocation strategies in forest management.