Michigan Engineer Recognized for Trailblazing Work in Thermal Engineering

By: Sara Chauvette

Michigan State University professor James Klausner has been awarded one of the highest honors in the mechanical engineering community. He is the 2019 recipient of the Heat Transfer Memorial Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

The university says his illustrious career includes pioneering research in boiling heat transfer, humidification, desalination and thermochemical conversion. He has 10 patents and four provisional patents.

Recently, he’s won three grants from the U.S. Department of Energy for a variety of projects that cover issues of environmental remediation, energy storage and developing high-tech heat exchange systems for power generation.

In March, Klausner’s team at MSU got $3 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a way to extract clean irrigation water from systems that use hydraulic fracturing wastewater. The university, in collaboration with Oregon State and University of Nevada Reno, are investigating ways to make a modular device that could extract clean water from fracking waste.

Klausner’s expertise in heat exchange will help the team develop a multi-phase process to separate, condense and reclaim pure water from the waste. In a university press release, Klausner said the new method would help alleviate the environmental stresses of disposing of dirty waste water. “There is a strong focus on delivering low-cost wastewater treatment solution by leveraging the novel treatment system fabricated with low-cost materials,” said Klausner.

The engineer is staying very busy, as he is simultaneously working on a way to build a grid that stores power for long stretches of time. The system will need to store energy for at least 100 hours at a time. The trick will be to build something that is efficient electrochemically, thermally and mechanically.

The U.S. Department of Energy is also funding Klausner’s research in 3D metal printing and efficient power generation. He is a co-investigator on a project that seeks to develop heat exchangers that could be used in nuclear power grids, industrial gas furnaces and more.

Photo Credit: Michigan State University