Project R-8853


EcoFlow: Understanding water and heat flow in Ecotrons (Research)


It is beyond a shadow of a doubt that global warming is a serious issue who's influence on nature can hardly be foreseen. To shed some light on the potential impact, UHasselt runs in collaboration with UAntwerp a special research facility ("ecotron"). In a sort of greenhouse, influences of, e.g., droughts on heathland can be investigated. Experiments can be made with different climate conditions to investigate the influence of increasing temperature, decreasing amount of water etc. It lies in the nature of those experiments that their time frame is rather large, one run takes about 15 years. Everything that can help making guided decisions in a shorter time is therefore of utmost importance. The goal of the proposed project is to develop, implement and validate a mathematical model that can predict temperature changes and water flow in the ecotron in a noninvasive way. This includes modeling biological processes and air flow in soil, in the heathland and in the air. In particular, flow in the heatland is challenging because of the complicated structure of the plants. After having obtained suitable mathematical equations, those equations are solved by, accordingly modified, state-of-the-art numerical methods. The results are then again compared against ecotron-reality. The desired outcome is an efficient software tool with which experimentalists can study the influence of different parameters on the experiment without falsifying an ongoing long-term experiment.

Period of project

01 October 2018 - 30 September 2022