R. Dennis Vigil

Dennis (Dennis) Vigil


Professor and Reginald R. Baxter Endowed Department Chair


3037 Sweeney
618 Bissell Rd.
Ames, IA 50011-1098




Ph.D. Chemical Engineering, University of Michigan, 1990 M.S. Chemical Engineering, University of Michigan, 1986 B.S. Chemical Engineering, University of New Mexico, 1985

Interest Areas

I am interested developing and validating new models and computational methods for simulating the behavior of multiphase processes, particularly as they relate to important technological problems such as biomanufacturing, enhanced oil recovery and aquifer remediation, and optimization of chemical process equipment.

Research Projects

  • Kinetics of Coagulation and Breakage: Particle clustering, bubble or droplet coalescence, and breakage are ubiquitous phenomena in both nature and in chemical process equipment. The analysis, design, and optimization of such equipment require a solution of population balance models coupled to transport equations. We are interested in developing improved coagulation and breakup simulation models as well as experimental techniques for a mechanistic understanding of aggregation and breakage kinetics.
  • Multiphase Taylor Vortex Flow: The flow structure in a Taylor vortex reactor (concentric cylinders, with the inner cylinder spinning) has applications to a variety of chemical and biological processing problems, such as emulsion polymerization, extraction, and cultivation of microalgae. The optimization of these systems requires a fundamental understanding of the effect of various operational parameters on the hydrodynamic structure and mixing characteristics. We are working to develop this understanding for both liquid-gas and liquid-liquid systems through the use of particle image velocimetry experiments and CFD calculations.
  • Experimental and simulation-based validation of breakage rate kernels for liquid-liquid contacting equipment: We are using optical methods to observe droplet breakage events in a von Karman box under conditions of homogeneous isotropic turbulence. We are also comparing the breakage data with VOF simulation predictions.
  • Phase separation in non-Newtonian emulsions: Most medical ointments are liquid emulsions consisting of one or more non-Newtonian components and these mixtures often exhibit yield-stress and shear-thinning behavior. We are interested in developing a better understanding of the rheology and stability against phase separation of these mixtures, particularly in response to changes in temperature and shear strain rate.
  • Taylor vortex fermenter-extractor-separator: We are developing a continuous flow bioreactor that takes advantage of favorable characteristics of Taylor vortices as well as the centrifugal separation potential of these devices to simultaneously carry out dark fermentation, product extraction, and phase separation. This device will be redeployable and will eliminate some downstream processing equipment. 



      K. Ravichandar, R. D. Vigil, and M. G. Olsen*, Fitting parameter estimations for droplet breakage rate models, Physics of Fluids36, 013344 (2024). doi:10.1063/5.0173987

      K. Ravichandar, R. D. Vigil, and M. G. Olsen*, Design and operation of a von Kármán reactor for droplet breakage experiments, Flow Measurement and Instrumentation95, 102517 (2024). doi:10.1016/j.flowmeasinst.2023.102517

      K. Ravichandar, M. G. Olsen, and R. D. Vigil*, Turbulent droplet breakage probability: Analysis of fitting parameters for two commonly used models, Chemical Engineering Science266, 118311 (2023). doi:10.1016/j.ces.2022.118311

      K. Ravichandar, R. D. Vigil, R. O. Fox, S. Nachtigall, A. Daiss, M. Vonka, and M. G. Olsen*, Turbulent droplet breakage in a von Kármán flow cell, Physics of Fluids34, 073319 (2022). doi:10.1063/5.0096395.

      H. Nadeem, R. D. Vigil, A. Samuel, A. Sarkar, T. Yeoh, and M. G. Olsen*, Coalescence-induced phase separation of an oil in water emulsion under controlled shear and temperature conditions, Journal of Chemical Engineering Research and Design182, 517-524 (2022). doi:10.1016/j.cherd.2022.04.024

      A. Haghighat, M. G. Olsen*, R. D. Vigil, and A. Sarkar, Droplet coalescence and phase separation in a topical ointment: Effects of fluid shear and temperature, International Journal of Pharmaceutics591, 119872 (2020). doi:10.1016/j.ijpharm.2020.119872

      M. Ramezani, A. Haghighat, M. Legg, R. D. Vigil, and M. G. Olsen*, Evolution of bubble size distribution, number density, and shape in semi-batch vertical gas-liquid Taylor vortex flow, AIChE J66, e17003 (2020). doi:10.1002/aic.17003

      C. C. Campbell, M. G. Olsen, and R. D. Vigil*, Droplet size distributions in liquid-liquid semi-batch Taylor vortex flow, AIP Advances10, (2020). doi:10.1063/5.0018065.

      C. C. Campbell, M.G. Olsen, and R.D. Vigil*, Jet breakup regimes in liquid-liquid Taylor vortex flow, International Journal of Multiphase Flow131, 103401 (2020). doi:10.1016/j.ijmultiphaseflow.2020.103401.

      C. C. Campbell, M. G. Olsen*, and R. D. Vigil, Flow regimes in two-phase hexane/water semibatch vertical Taylor vortex flow, Journal of Fluids Engineering141, 111203 (2019). doi:10.1115/1.4043493. 

      X. Gao, B. Kong*, and R. D. Vigil, Simulation of algal photobioreactors: recent developments and challenges, Biotechnology Letters40, 1311-1327 (2018). doi:10.1007/s10529-018-2595-3 

      X. Gao, B. Kong, and R. D. Vigil*, Multiphysics simulation of algal growth in an airlift photobioreactor: Effects of fluid mixing and shear stress, Bioresource Technology251, 75-83 (2018). doi:10.1016/biortech.2017.12.014

      P. Rudnicki, X. Gao, B. Kong, and R. D. Vigil*, A comparative study of photosynthetic unit models for algal growth rate and fluorescence prediction under light/dark cycles, Algal Research24, 227-236 (2017). doi:10.1016/j.algal.2017.03.028

      X. Gao, B. Kong, and R. D. Vigil*, Comprehensive computational model for combining fluid hydrodynamics, light transport and biomass growth in a Taylor vortex algal photobioreactor: Eulerian approach, Algal Research24, 1-8 (2017). doi:10.1016/j.algal.2017.03.009 

      M. Ramezani, M. Legg, A. Haghighat, Z. Li, R. D. Vigil, and M.G. Olsen*, Experimental investigation of the effect of ethyl alcohol surfactant on oxygen mass transfer and bubble size distribution in an air-water multiphase Taylor-Couette vortex bioreactor, Chemical Engineering Journal319, 288-296 (2017). doi:10.1016/j.cej.2017.03.005

      X. Gao, B. Kong, and R. D. Vigil*, Comprehensive computational model for combining fluid hydrodynamics, light transport and biomass growth in a Taylor vortex algal photobioreactor: Lagrangian approach, Bioresource Technology224, 523-530 (2017). doi:10.1016/j.biortech.2016.10.080

      X. Gao*, B. Kong, and R. D. Vigil, CFD Simulation of bubbly turbulent Taylor-Couette flow, Chinese Journal of Chemical Engineering24, 719-727 (2016).  doi:10.1016/j.cjche.2016.01.013

      X. Gao, B. Kong, and R. D. Vigil*, Characteristic time scales of mixing, mass transfer, and biomass growth in a Taylor vortex algal photobioreactor, Bioresource Technology198, 283-291(2015). doi:10.1016/j.biortech.2015.09.013 

      X. Gao, B. Kong, M. Ramezani, M. G. Olsen, and R. D. Vigil*, An adaptive model for gas-liquid mass transfer in a Taylor vortex reactor, International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer91, 433-445 (2015). doi:10.1016/j.ijheatmasstransfer.2015.07.125

      M. Ramezani, B. Kong, X. Gao, M. G. Olsen, and R. D. Vigil*, Experimental measurement of oxygen mass transfer and bubble size distribution in an air-water multiphase Taylor-Couette vortex reactor, Chemical Engineering Journal279, 286-296 (2015). doi:10.1016/j.cej.2015.05.007

            X. Gao, B. Kong, and R. D. Vigil*, CFD investigation of bubble effects on Taylor-Couette flow patterns in the weakly turbulent vortex regime, Chemical Engineering Journal270, 508-518 (2015). doi:10.1016/j.cej.2015.02.061

            B. Kong and R. D. Vigil*, Simulation of photosynthetically active radiation distribution in algal photobioreactors using a multidimensional spectral radiation model. Bioresource Technology158, 141-148 (2014). doi:10.1016/j.biortech.2014.01.052

            B. Kong and R. D. Vigil*, Light-limited continuous culture of Chlorella vulgaris in a Taylor vortex reactor. Environmental Progress & Sustainable Energy32, 884-890 (2013). doi: 10.1002/ep.11834

            B. Kong, J. Shanks, and R.D. Vigil*, Enhanced algal growth rate in a Taylor vortex reactor. Biotechnology & Bioengineering11, 2140-2149 (2013). doi:10.1002/bit.24886

            I. Beresnev*, W. Gaul, and R.D. Vigil, Direct pore-level observation of permeability increase by seismic waves. Geophysical Review Letters38, L21812 (2011). doi:10.1029/2011GL049481

            I. Beresnev*, W. Gaul, and R. D. Vigil, Thickness of residual wetting film in liquid-liquid displacement. Physical Review E, 84, 026327 (2011). doi: 10.1103/PhysRevE.84.026327

        I. Beresnev*, W. Gaul, and R. D. Vigil, Forced instability of core-annular flow in capillary constrictions. Physics of Fluids23, 072105 (2011). doi: 10.1063/1.3607472

        G. Pranami, M. H. Lamm, and R. D. Vigil*, Molecular dynamics simulations of fractal aggregate diffusion. Physical Review E82, 051402 (2010). doi: 10.1103/PhysRevE.82.051402

        J. C. Cheng, R. D. Vigil, and R. O. Fox*, A competitive aggregation model for flash nanoprecipitation. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, 351, 330-342 (2010). 

        I. A. Beresnev*, W. Li, and R. D. Vigil, Condition for breakup of non-wetting fluids in sinusoidally constricted capillary channels. Transport in Porous Media80, 581-604 (2009). 

        R. D. Vigil*, On equilibrium solutions of aggregation-fragmentation problems. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science336, 642-647 (2009). doi: 10.1016/j.jcis.2009.04.061

        T. Mokhtari, A. Chakrabarti, C. M. Sorensen*, C. Cheng, and D. Vigil, The effect of shear on colloidal aggregation and gelation studied using small-angle light scattering. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science327, 216-223 (2008). doi: 10.1016/j.jcis.2008.08.017

        S. Markutsya, S. Subramaniam, R. D. Vigil*, and R. O. Fox, On Brownian dynamics simulation of nanoparticle aggregation. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research47, 3338-3345 (2008).

        R. D. Vigil*, I. Vermeersch, and R. O. Fox, Destructive aggregation:  Aggregation with collision-induced breakage. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science302, 149-158 (2006). 

        I. A. Beresnev*, R. D. Vigil, W. Li, W. D. Pennington, R. D. Turpening, P. P. Iassonov, and R. P. Ewing, Elastic waves push organic fluids from reservoir rock. Geophysical Research Letters32, p. L13303 (2005).

            L. Wang, M. D. Olsen, and R. D. Vigil*, Reappearance of azimuthal waves in turbulent Taylor-Couette flow at large aspect ratio. Chemical Engineering Science60, 5555-5568 (2005).

            W. Li, R. D. Vigil*, I. A. Beresnev, P. Iassonov, and R. Ewing, Vibration-induced mobilization of trapped oil ganglia in porous media: Experimental validation of a capillary physics mechanism. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science289, 193-199 (2005).

            L. Wang, R. D. Vigil, and R. O. Fox*, CFD simulation of shear-induced aggregation and breakage in turbulent Taylor-Couette flow. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science285, 167-178 (2005).

            L. Wang, D. L. Marchisio, R. D. Vigil, and R. O. Fox*, CFD simulation of aggregation and breakage processes in laminar Taylor-Couette flow. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science282, 380-396 (2005).

            D. L. Marchisio, R. D. Vigil, and R.O. Fox*, Implementation of the quadrature method of moments in CFD codes for aggregation-breakage problems. Chemical Engineering Science58, 3337-3351 (2003).

            D. L. Marchisio, J. T. Pikturna, R. O. Fox*, R. D. Vigil, and A. A. Barresi, Quadrature method of moments for population balance equations. American Institute of Chemical Engineers Journal49, 1266-1276 (2003).

            D. L. Marchisio, R. D. Vigil, and R. O. Fox*, Quadrature method of moments for aggregation breakage processes. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science258, 322-334 (2003).

            M. Fontenot and R. D. Vigil*, Pore-scale study of non-aqueous phase liquid dissolution in porous media using laser-induced fluorescence. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science247, 481-489 (2002).

            X. Zhu and R. D. Vigil*, Banded liquid-liquid Taylor-Couette-Poiseuille flow. American Institute of Chemical Engineers Journal47, 1932-1940 (2001).

            X. Zhu, R. J. Campero, and R. D. Vigil*, Axial mass transport in liquid-liquid Taylor-Couette-Poiseuille flow. Chemical Engineering Science55, 5079-5087 (2000).

            N. Kumar, T. S. King, and R. D. Vigil*, A portal model for structure sensitive hydrogen adsorption on Ru-Ag/SiO2 catalysts. Chemical Engineering Science55, 4973-4979 (2000).

            R. J. Campero and R. D. Vigil*, Flow patterns in liquid-liquid Taylor-Couette-Poiseuille flow. Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research38, 1094-1098 (1999).

            F. Sheikh and R. D. Vigil*, Simulation of imperfect micromixing for first-order adiabatic reactions: The coalescence-dispersion model. Chemical Engineering Science53, 2137-2142 (1998).

            R. D. Vigil* and R. M. Ziff, On the scaling theory of two-component aggregation. Chemical Engineering Science53, 1725-1729 (1998).

            R. J. Campero and R. D. Vigil*, Spatiotemporal patterns in liquid-liquid Taylor-Couette Poiseuille flow. Physical Review Letters79, 3897-3900 (1997).

            R. J. Campero and R. D. Vigil*, Axial dispersion during low Reynolds number Taylor-Couette flow: Intra-vortex mixing effects. Chemical Engineering Science52, 3303-3310 (1997).

            R. D. Vigil* and F. T. Willmore, Oscillatory dynamics in a heterogeneous surface reaction:  Breakdown of the mean-field approximation. Physical Review E54, 1225-1231 (1996).

            R. D. Vigil, Q. Ouyang, and H. L. Swinney*, Turing patterns in a simple gel reactor. Physica A188, 17-25 (1992).

            R. D. Vigil, Q. Ouyang, and H. L. Swinney*, Spatial distribution of a short-lived intermediate species in a Couette reactor. Journal of Chemical Physics96, 6126-6131, (1992).

            B. J. Brosilow, R. M. Ziff*, and R. D. Vigil, Random sequential adsorption of parallel squares. Physical Review A43, 631-638 (1991).

            R. M. Ziff* and R. D. Vigil, Kinetics and fractal properties of the random sequential adsorption of line segments. Journal of Physics A23, 5103-5108 (1990).

            R. D. Vigil and R. M. Ziff*, Kinetics of random sequential adsorption of rectangles and line segments. Journal of Chemical Physics93, 8270-8272 (1990).

            R. D. Vigil* and R. M. Ziff, On the stability of coagulation-fragmentation population balance          equations. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science133, 257-264 (1989).

            R. D. Vigil and R. M. Ziff*, Random sequential adsorption of unoriented rectangles onto a plane. Journal of Chemical Physics91, 2599-2602 (1989).

            R. D. Vigil and R. M. Ziff*, Comment on ‘Cluster-Size Evolution in a Coagulation-Fragmentation System’. Physical Review Letters61, 1431 (1988).

            R. D. Vigil, R. M. Ziff*, and B. Lu, New universality class for gelation in a system with particle breakup. Physical Review B38, 942-945 (1988).

Primary Strategic Research Area

Advanced Materials & Manufacturing