UC engineering professor honored for energy process expertise

Raj Manglik’s recent work includes a more efficient and sustainable method to cool power plants

Raj Manglik headshot

Raj Manglik, a University of Cincinnati professor of mechanical and materials engineering, was awarded the Donald Q. Kern Award, the highest recognition from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers for his outstanding contributions in the fields of heat transfer, transport phenomena and energy processes.

“My mentor when I was a Ph.D. student, Professor Arthur E. Bergles, was given this honor 30 years ago, and to follow in his footsteps and to be honored by my peers is a tremendous and humbling honor,” Manglik said. 

Manglik’s career includes significant research contributions in thermal science and engineering, including an ongoing project to make power production cheaper, more efficient and less reliant on a precious commodity: water. 

The whole driver for this technology development is that water is a commodity that is becoming scarce, particularly clean, potable water.

Raj Manglik, engineering professor

Power plants and refrigeration systems — both critical to our infrastructure and way of life — rely on water-based cooling. Manglik and frequent collaborator and fellow UC mechanical engineering professor, Milind Jog, have developed an air-based cooling system instead of using water. 

“The whole driver for this technology development is that water is a commodity that is becoming scarce, particularly clean, potable water,” Manglik said. 

Electric power generation is second only to agriculture in the amount of water used, requiring an estimated three trillion gallons of water globally per year. Much of that water isn’t reused; it’s lost to evaporation in the cooling process. Water that power plants can return to nearby water sources is warmer which can adversely impact the aquatic ecosystem. 

A recent grant of $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy will allow further research and field testing of the technology at the Electric Power Research Institute’s Water Research and Conservation Center at Plant McDonough in Atlanta, Georgia. This new project extends the research and technology readiness demonstrator work that Manglik and his team had carried out in a previous $3.4 million grant from the Department of Energy, and for which he holds a U.S. Patent. 

The 2020 Kern award was presented to Manglik at the 2021 virtual ASME-AlChE Heat Transfer Conference. 

Throughout his 30 years at UC, Manglik has received more than $10 million in grants and funding for research and scholarship activities and has published more than 260 archival papers and technical reports. He is the director of the Thermal-Fluids and Thermal Processing Lab. Manglik received the UC Award for Faculty Excellence in 2019 and wrote the textbook Principles of Heat Transfer, which is used in many engineering schools including UC. He is also the recipient of the CAREER Award, in it’s inception year, from the National Science Foundation and several prestigious awards from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. 

Featured video: Margaret Weiner, Benjamin Gardner and Andrew Higley/UC Creative Services; Featured image at top of Raj Manglik: Photo/Joseph Fuqua II/UC Creative Services