The Nonequilibrium Gas & Plasma Dynamics Laboratory (NGPDL) is directed by Professor Iain D. Boyd. NGPDL is active in the development and application of physical models and numerical methods for simulation of nonequilibrium gas flows and plasmas. Current aerospace application areas include electric propulsion (small rockets used to control spacecraft), and hypersonic aerothermodynamics (flight of spacecraft at high speeds).

Nonequilibrium means that the rates of fundamental processes (such as chemical reactions) are too slow to allow the system to reach equilibrium. Such behavior can have a significant impact on basic system performance such as the thrust of a rocket or the heat transfer to a hypersonic vehicle.

NGPDL develops models for simulating nonequilibrium flows using a variety of numerical techniques ranging from particle methods (e.g. direct simulation Monte Carlo, Particle In Cell, molecular dynamics), to continuum methods (Computational Fluid Dynamics, hydrodynamics). We also are conducting research into development of hybrid methods that use several of these techniques within a single simulation.

Our research in nonequilibrium gases and plasmas involves development of physical models for the gas and plasma systems of interest, development of numerical algorithms on the latest supercomputers, and application to challenging flows in several exciting projects. We place a great deal of emphasis on comparison of our calculations with external experimental and theoretical results, and have ongoing collaborative studies with colleagues at the University of Michigan, other universities, government laboratories, and industry.

Forty-six doctoral students have graduated from NGPDL, and these alumni have gone on to continue working in the field of nonequilibrium flows through positions in academia, government research laboratories, and industry.


(January 2019) At the AIAA SCITECH Meeting, four papers were presented by current NGPDL members: Kaelan Hansson, Sam Chen, Michael Holloway, and Professor Sinan Eyi. Professor Boyd delivered the lecture for the AIAA 2018 Thermophysics Award.

(July 2018) Professor Boyd gave the James Weir Lecture at the 31st International Symposium on Rarefied Gas Dynamics in Glasgow, Scotland.

(July 2018) Professor Boyd participated on a panel entitled "Hypersonics 101" in the US Capitol Building.

(June 2018) At the AIAA Aviation Conference, six papers were presented by current NGPDL members Dr. Kyle Hanquist, Sam Chen, David Dang, Kaelan Hansson, Lauren Mackey, and Professor Sinan Eyi.

(June 2018) Professor Kentaro Hara, NGPDL alum, won an Early Career Award from the Department of Energy on fusion plasma modeling.

(June 2018) Professor Iain Boyd, NGPDL Director, received the Thermophysics Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics at the AIAA Aviation Conference in Atlanta.

(January 2018) Dr. Maria Choi, NGPDL alum, was featured in an article on diversity in engineering by the University of Michigan.

(January 2018) At the AIAA SCITECH Meeting, three papers were presented by current NGPDL members Dr. Daniil Andrienko (two papers) and Dr. Kyle Hanquist.

(November 2017) Professor Iain Boyd, NGPDL director, was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society of the United Kingdom.

(October 2017) Dr. Maria Choi, NGPDL alum, was presented with the inaugural Kuriki Young Professionals Award by the Electric Rocket Propulsion Society.

(October 2017) Professor Kentaro Hara, NGPDL alum, won a Young Investigator Program Award from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research on plasma modeling.

(July 2017) Professor Iain Boyd, NGPDL Director, was presented with the Chief of Staff of the Air Force Award for Exceptional Public Service for his work on the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board.

(June 2017) At the AIAA AVIATION Conference, five papers were presented by current NGPDL members Dr. Daniil Andrienko (two papers), Peter Cross (two papers), and Lauren Mackey.

(April 2017) Professor Iain Boyd, NGPDL Director, and Professor Tom Schwartzentruber, NGPDL alum, published a book entitled Nonequilibrium Gas Dynamics and Molecular Simulation, Cambridge University Press.