Faculty Fellows: Better Boiling for Faster Heat

Expertise: Energy conversion and heat transfer; Shalabh C. Maroo heads Syracuse University’s Multiscale Research and Engineering Lab.
Research Problem: Reducing energy consumption and improving per formance of manufactured goods through development of nanomaterials that lead to faster heat transfer.
Backstory: Maroo’s research hinges on fundamentally changing the boiling process. Experimenting with different nano/micro patterns on silicon and silicon-dioxide surfaces, Maroo and his team found they could increase the bubbles forming on the surface of boiling water, increasing heat transfer compared to smooth heating surfaces. With funding from SyracuseCoE’s AM-TEC initiative, the team was able to define the critical height of the surface pattern to optimize heat transfer, increasing heat transfer by 120 percent.
SyracuseCoE Connection: Maroo received $100,000 from SyracuseCoE in 2013 under an award from the U.S. Department of Energy in support of a regional initiative to strengthen Central New York’s cluster of Advanced Manufacturers for Thermal and Environmental Controls (AM-TEC). “That funding allowed us to demonstrate our experimental capabilities, leading to additional support for new research,” says Maroo.
Lab Report: Maroo is studying how the surface pattern developed under the AM-TEC award can be used within boiler systems to improve heating and save energy costs. Another area of research focuses on cooling of electronics. Maroo received an NSF CAREER Award in 2015 to investigate the fundamental physics associated with nanoscale meniscus evaporation and passive liquid flow to remove large amounts of heat from surfaces in very short amounts of time. Eventually, this knowledge could be applied to achieve next-generation heat exchangers for thermal management of electronics and renewable energy technologies such as concentrated solar photovoltaic cells.
Aha Moment: Studying the boiling process, Maroo’s research group has created a single vapor bubble in a pool of liquid that can remain stable on a surface for hours, instead of milliseconds. “This will help us understand and predict the boiling process further so we can design structures and surfaces accordingly,” he says.