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Friday, September 29, 2023

Academics & Research

New technique to measure heat transfer distribution

The Cullen College of Engineering’s latest guest speaker drew a crowd Thursday afternoon as he lectured on gravity effects on pool-and-flow boiling heat transfer mechanisms.

Visiting from the University of Maryland, mechanical engineering professor Jungho Kim is a part of the Energy Research Center, where he conducts experiments dealing with the effects of gravity on heat transfer. He is currently working on developing a new technique that will virtually measure heat transfer distribution using IR thermography, which involves displaying images of the heat transfer through infrared radiation — thermal imaging.

During the lecture, Kim provided insight into this world of mechanical engineering by presenting his experiments on gravity’s effects, noting that NASA is currently funding his studies on the heat transfer of flow boiling in gravitational situations.

One of the experiments testing microgravity effects on heat transfer and boiling involved a fixed NASA aircraft designed to shift gravitational levels and fly in elliptical patterns, known to scientists as parabolic flight.

“This is NASA’s Vomit Comet, and very happily named,” Kim said. “Seventy percent of the people that fly on this thing get sick the first time.”

Kim went on to explain this particular experiment.

“There is a 1.8-g pull up in the plane where you experience hypo-gravity, but then for about 20 to 25 seconds, there’s a zero-g portion before you fall back down with another 1.8-g pull out,” he said.

Kim elaborated on the study, explaining how he studied the heat transfers and their changes while in the brief zone of zero gravity. Experiments such as this one are part of the reason that many engineering students are interested in this field of research.

“It makes me pretty excited to see the work that is being done and what kinds of research I’ll be doing,” said mechanical engineering junior Alex Tovar at the event on Thursday. “This hints at the work I’ll get into after graduation.”

While the lecture gave a glimpse into the opportunities to be had in this field of study, it also sparked the interest of younger UH engineering hopefuls as well.

“I have a real interest in the experience of zero-gravity experiments and how scientists overcome the difficulty of studying the physics that come with that,” said industrial engineering freshman Michael Alexander III. “I just think it was cool how Professor Kim was able to take his ideas and implement them in real life research.”

Kim also made it known to the audience that there are still aspects of this study that are unclear and need further research.

“We don’t know this for sure, but maybe we don’t have to spend $5 million on it.”

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