Thermal Sciences Research and Education in the University of Utah’s Department of Mechanical Engineering studies thermodynamics and heat transfer physics in a wide range of length and time scales that impact engineering and biological applications. Core strengths include microfluidics, computational fluid dynamics, radiative energy transfer, and nanoscale.

Faculty and Labs

Tim Ameel

Research interests include: Microfluidics, Microscale thermal fluid phenomena, Microscale energy systems, Heat Exchangers, and Mathematical modeling of thermal fluid systems.

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Todd Harman

Research interests include: Computational Fluid Dynamics and Fluid Structure Interaction, Supersonic flows, and Large scale simulations.

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Tianlie Feng
Lab – Feng MEX Lab

Our research is to push the frontiers of thermal energy transport, conversion, and storage in complex systems to extremes. Specifically, we target materials properties for ultra-high temperatures (1000-3000 °C), ultra-low temperatures (-270 °C), ultra-high thermal conductivity (2000 W/mK), ultra-low thermal conductivity (<0.01 W/mK), ultra-high power density, and ultra-fast energy transfer rate, from the atomic level to human scale. Our research methods include both advanced simulations and experiments, aiming for both fundamental sciences and cutting-edge technologies.

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Mathieu Francoeur
Lab – Radiative Energy Transfer

Research at the RETL is multidisciplinary at the interface of mechanical engineering, applied physics, electrical engineering, materials science and mathematics. Current applications of interests include thermophotovoltaic power generation, near-field radiative heat transfer modeling in 3D complex geometries, design of materials with unique radiative properties, optical characterization of nanostructures, near-field thermal spectroscopy and radiation-conduction transition.

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Keunhan (Kay) Park
Lab – Utah Nano-Energy

Focuses on research and education of nanoscale energy transport and conversion processes. Our research interests include fundamental physics of thermal, electrical, and photonic energy interactions at nanoscales, nanostructure-based energy applications, nanoscale thermophysical instrumentations, and tip-based nanoimaging and spectroscopy.

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Sameer Rao

Research Interests include: Multiscale heat & mass transfer, Energy conversion & storage, Water harvesting & purification, and Thermal management.

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Wenda Tan
Lab – Laser-Based Manufacturing

Works to invent new techniques and improve existing techniques of laser-based manufacturing, striving to improve the accuracy, efficiency, and product properties of the manufacturing processes. Uses experiment and computer simulation techniques to understand the underlying physics of laser-based manufacturing processes, and we use such understanding to optimize the processes and maximize the potential of the techniques.

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Kent Udell

Heat and mass transfer in porous media, particularly applications where there is phase change. Interests include the creation of “ice balls” in the subsurface during winter to provide summer air conditioning, porous thermochemical batteries to store heat to be returned for applications over a wide range of temperatures from food preparation to refrigeration, or the creation of a dry steam geothermal battery.

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