Goal of the Thermal Engineering Group: To understand fundamental thermal-fluid transport mechanisms that guide novel applications and efficient solutions for a sustainable energy future.
In the Thermal Engineering Group, we are motivated by research problems in the areas of energy and water. We investigate fundamental thermal and fluidic transport at the nanoscale-to-macroscale, leading to design of efficient thermal management, energy conversion and water purification systems. This research is at the intersection of fundamental thermal-fluid sciences, micro/nanoengineered functional materials and chemistry.
Under this umbrella of energy and water research, we have three main fundamental research thrust areas: (i) interfacial phenomena and liquid-solid interactions on micro/nanoengineered surfaces, (ii) liquid-vapor phase-change heat transfer in the form of evaporation/boiling and condensation, and (iii) solar thermal energy conversion. This fundamental research includes probing dynamic liquid-solid-vapor interactions such as wetting and wicking/hemi‑wicking, and micro/nanoscale heat and mass transport at the liquid-vapor interface during phase‑change heat transfer. Simultaneously, we will investigate nucleation of bubbles and droplets which are the most fundamental processes in boiling and condensation respectively. In addition, we also study light-structure interactions to design efficient materials/surfaces for solar-to-thermal energy conversion.
The knowledge gained from the fundamental research work will be applied to develop novel thermal management solutions for electronics applications (high performance computing, power amplifiers in communications, etc.), efficient components in energy conversion systems (condensers and boilers/evaporators in Rankine or Organic Rankine cycles, adsorption heat pumps and concentrated solar power), improved methods for liquefaction and recovery of natural gas, and novel techniques for water purification in the developing world.