Nicolas Ponchaut
Nicolas F. Ponchaut, Ph.D., P.E.
Managing Engineer
Thermal Sciences
  • Natick

Dr. Ponchaut performs investigations and analyses related to fires, explosions, chemical releases, and equipment failures. He specializes in the area of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and heat transfer modeling. He has extensive experience in the development and the use of numerical codes for the purpose of studying fluid dynamics problems, multi-phase flow behaviors, and flow-structure interactions. In particular, he has experience in the evaluation of the dynamic and acoustic behavior of pipe systems, and he has been performing simulations for the oil and gas industry, including modeling LNG spills, flammable vapor cloud dispersion, underwater hydrocarbon plumes, and the effect of ground flares on the surrounding temperatures and pollutant concentrations.

Dr. Ponchaut also has significant experience in modeling heat transfer in portable power systems. In particular, he has been involved in modeling lithium-ion battery packs in the context of thermal management studies to quantify the risk and the propagation of thermal runaway failures. 

Dr. Ponchaut experience also includes turbomachinery and he has been involved in the investigation of compressor surge events, blade vibration problems, and blade liberation incidents. He has capabilities in analyzing a variety of fluid-structure phenomena using experimental, numerical, and theoretical methods. 

Prior to joining Exponent, Dr. Ponchaut worked as a post doctorate fellow at McGill University and as a research assistant at the California Institute of Technology. He has been responsible for the development of various experimental measurement techniques in both subsonic and supersonic flows. He wrote several numerical solvers and used them to investigate the flow features in the explosion of reacting spheres. These solvers are still currently used in defense research laboratories. In addition to his expertise in fluid mechanics, Dr. Ponchaut obtained a minor in solid mechanics.

CREDENTIALS & PROFESSIONAL HONORS

  • Ph.D., Aeronautics, California Institute of Technology (Caltech), 2005
  • M.S., Aeronautics, California Institute of Technology (Caltech), 2001
  • B.S., Electro Mechanical Engineering, Université de Liège, 2000
  • Rolf D. Buhler Memorial Award in Aeronautics, 2001

    High and Highest Academic Honors, 1996–2000

    Pisart Organization Fellowship, 1995–1996 

LICENSES & CERTIFICATIONS

Licensed Professional Engineer, California, #35390

LANGUAGES

  • French

Publications

Ibarreta AF, Hart RJ, Ponchaut NF, Morrison DT, Kytömaa HK. How does concrete affect evaporation of cryogenic liquids: Evaluating liquefied natural gas plant safety. ASCE-ASME Journal of Risk and Uncertainty in Engineering Systems, Part B: Mechanical Engineering 2015; in press.

Ibarreta AF, Ponchaut NF, Hart RJ, Morrison DT, Kytömaa HK. Reducing flammable release hazards at LNG Facilities. FS-World, Fire & Safety Magazine, Spring 2014 Edition.

Lei YC, Tien WH, Ducan J, Paul M, Ponchaut N, Mouton C, Dabiri D, Rösgen T, Hove J. A vision-based hybrid particle tracking velocimetry (PTV) technique using a modified cascade correlation peak-finding method. Experiments in Fluids 2012; 53:1251–1268.

Ponchaut NF, Kytömaa HK, Morrison DR, Chernovsky MK. Modeling the vapor source term associated with the spill of LNG into a sump or impoundment area. JLPP 2011 Nov; 24(6):870–878.

Hornung HG, Pullin PI, Ponchaut NF. On the question of universality of imploding shock waves. Acta Mechanica 2008 Dec; 201(1–4).

Ponchaut NF, Hornung HG, Pullin DI, Mouton CA. On imploding cylindrical and spherical shock waves in a perfect gas. Journal of Fluid Mechanics 2006; 560:103–122.

Ponchaut NF. Part I: 3DPTV: Advances and error analysis. Part II: Extension of Guderley’s solution for converging shock waves. Ph.D. Thesis, California Institute of Technology, June 2005.

Ponchaut N. Numerical investigation of aero-thermal coupling in turbine blades (written in French). Undergraduate thesis, Université de Liège, France, June 2000.

Conference Proceedings


Marr, KC, Ponchaut, NF, Kytömaa HK. Monte Carlo analysis of hazardous air pollutant emissions from industrial flares. Air and Waste Management Association, 108th annual conference & exhibition, Raleigh, NC, June 2015.

Ponchaut NF, Marr KC, Colella F, Somandepalli V, Horn Q. Thermal runaway and safety of large lithium-ion battery systems. Battcon International Stationary Battery Conference, Orlando, FL, May 2015.

Ponchaut NF, Kytömaa HK. Planning early for compressor surge avoidance. AIChE Spring Meeting, 15th Topical Conference on Gas Utilization, Austin, TX, April 2015.

Ponchaut NF, Ibarreta A, Kytömaa HK. LNG spills on water: a comparison of the shallow water model to experiments. AIChE Spring Meeting, 15th Topical Conference on Gas Utilization, Austin, TX, April 2015.

Marr KC, Ponchaut NF, Kytömaa NF. Emissions estimation methodologies for industrial flares. AFRC 2014 Industrial Combustion Symposium. Houston, TX, September 2014.

Morse TL, Ponchaut NF, Bigham GN. Gas extraction from Lake Kivu: the dynamics of the degassed water plume. World Environment and Water Resources Congress, Portland, OR, June 2014.

Ponchaut NF, Colella F, Somandepalli V, Stern M. Thermal management modeling for thermal runaway avoidance in lithium-ion batteries. Battcon International Stationary Battery Conference, Boca Raton, FL, May 2014.

Ponchaut N, Colella F, Spray R, Horn Q. Thermal management modeling for avoidance of thermal runaway conditions in lithium-ion batteries. SAE international. Detroit, MI, April 2014.

Ibarreta A, Hart RJ, Ponchaut N, Morrison D, Kytömaa H. How does concrete affect evaporation of cryogenic liquids: Evaluating LNG plant safety. ASME 2013 International Mechanical Engineering Congress & Exposition, San Diego, CA, November 2013.

Colella F, Ibarreta A, Ponchaut NF, Kytömaa H. Numerical analysis of dense gas dispersion: Effect of staggered fences. Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center. 2013 International Symposium, College Station, TX, October 2013.

Marr KC, Ponchaut NF, Kytömaa HK. Analysis of combustion efficiencies for industrial steam-assisted flares. AFRC 2013 Industrial Combustion System, Koloa, HI, September 2013.

Colella F, Marr K, Ponchaut NF, Somandepalli V, Spray R. Analysis of combustion hazards due to catastrophic failures in lithium-ion battery packs. 7th International Seminar on Fire and Explosion Hazards, Providence, RI, May 2013.

Ponchaut NF, Kytömaa HK, DesAutels C, Kaganoi S, Becu O, Cardiff G. Modeling of ground flare pits. AIChE Spring Meeting, 12th Topical Conference on Gas Utilization, Houston, TX, April 2012.

Ponchaut NF, Ibarreta AF, Kytömaa HK. Modeling of LNG spills into trenches and troughs. AIChE Spring Meeting, 12th Topical Conference on Gas Utilization, Houston, TX, April 2012.

Ponchaut NF, Kytömaa HK, Ibarreta AF. Modeling the vapor source associated with spills of LNG into troughs and trenches. AIChE Spring National Meeting, 11th Topical Conference on Gas Utilization, Chicago, IL, March 2011.

Ponchaut NF, Kytömaa HK, Morrison DR, Chernovsky MK. Modeling the vapor source associated with the spill of LNG into a sump or an impoundment area. Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center. 2010 International Symposium, College Station, TX, October 2010.

Ponchaut NF, Kytömaa HK. Cooldown of large pipes during the commissioning phase of cryogenic facilities. AIChE Spring Meeting, 10th Topical Conference on Natural Gas Utilization, San Antonio, TX, March 2010.

Myers TJ, Kytömaa HK, Ibarreta AF, Ponchaut NF. Analyzing historic process data to identify near misses and warning signs: Examples from the Buncefield incident. AIChE Spring Meeting, 6th Global Congress on Process Safety, San Antonio, TX, March 2010.

Kytömaa HK, Myers TJ, Ibarreta AF, Ponchaut NF. Using real time process models to detect loss of containment and mitigate hazards. AIChE Spring Meeting, 6th Global Congress on Process Safety, San Antonio, TX, March 2010.

Ponchaut NF, Kytömaa HK. Transient spreading of LNG on water. Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center. 2009 International Symposium, College Station, TX, October 2009.

Kytömaa HK, Myers TJ, Ibarreta A, Ponchaut NF. Anatomy of the failures that led to the Buncefield explosion and fire. Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center, 2009 International Symposium, College Station, TX, October 2009.

Ponchaut NF, Chernovsky M, Gavelli F, Kytömaa HK. Modeling the spreading of large LNG spills on water. AIChE Spring Meeting, 9th Topical Conference on Natural Gas Utilization, Tampa, FL, April 2009.

Ponchaut NF, Mouton CA, Hornung HG. Development of three dimensional particle tracking velocimetry for supersonic flow. 42nd AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit, Reno, NV, January 2004.

Presentations


Ponchaut NF, Colella F, Ibarreta AF, Kytömaa HK. Effectiveness of vapor fences in mitigating LNG jetting and flashing releases. 10th Global Congress on Process Safety, New Orleans, LA, April 2014.

Ponchaut NF, Zhang F, Lee JHS. Blast wave from the explosion of a reacting sphere. Combustion Institute/Canadian Section Spring Technical Meeting, Waterloo, ON, Canada, May 2006.

Ponchaut NF, Mouton CA, Valiferdowsi B, Hornung HG. Design of a Mach 2.3 Ludwieg tube. Invited Presentation, Korea and Japan, March 2003.

Ponchaut NF, Mouton CA, Hornung HG. Implementation of 3D-particle triangulation velocimetry. Invited Presentation, Korea and Japan, March 2003.


Knowledge

News & Events

CREDENTIALS & PROFESSIONAL HONORS

  • Ph.D., Aeronautics, California Institute of Technology (Caltech), 2005
  • M.S., Aeronautics, California Institute of Technology (Caltech), 2001
  • B.S., Electro Mechanical Engineering, Université de Liège, 2000
  • Rolf D. Buhler Memorial Award in Aeronautics, 2001

    High and Highest Academic Honors, 1996–2000

    Pisart Organization Fellowship, 1995–1996 

LICENSES & CERTIFICATIONS

Licensed Professional Engineer, California, #35390

LANGUAGES

  • French