Vinod Narayanan and Alex Yokochi receive NSF CAREER Awards

March 21 2008

CORVALLIS, OR - The National Science Foundation has recognized two young engineering professors at Oregon State University with prestigious CAREER Awards, each carrying grant support of $400,000 for future research by the faculty members.

Vinod Narayanan, an assistant professor of thermal and fluid sciences in the School of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, and Alex Yokochi, an assistant professor of chemical engineering in the School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering, were recognized for their research proposals that could lead to more efficient computer chip cooling and hydrogen production for fuel cells, respectively.

Narayanan’s research aims to help establish an integrated research and educational framework in the field of thermal management. Enhancing heat transfer rates and developing methods that extend the heat load at which chip burnout occurs are of critical importance to the performance of high-power electronics and avionics, as well as for chip cooling. The proposed method aims to utilize inherent flow oscillations present in certain jets to enhance heat transfer from chips. Several aspects of the research will be integrated into the OSU Honors College curriculum.

“This project will complement and enhance the existing basic research programs in the thermal and fluid sciences at Oregon State,” said Narayanan, who holds a PhD from Texas A&M University. “The proposed method of cooling is also attractive from an energy efficiency viewpoint.”

Yokochi’s work is aimed at advancing development of microchannel chemical reactors, which make production of chemicals much more efficient and safer due to the small scale and portability of the reactors. Part of Yokochi’s research seeks to produce hydrogen from water by pumping chemicals through microchannels subjected to an intense heat source, such as concentrated solar energy.

“This area of work is in keeping with my objectives when I decided to pursue a career in chemical engineering rather than fundamental chemistry,” said Yokochi, who holds a PhD in chemistry from Texas A&M University. “I want to help deal with our looming energy crisis. If my efforts help solve the issue of where the hydrogen needed to run a “hydrogen economy” comes from, we will be that much closer to a sustainable energy solution.”

Professors Narayanan and Yokochi join a long and growing list of outstanding ONAMI members to win CAREER or Young Investigator awards.

The CAREER award is the NSF’s most prestigious award for new faculty members, designed to recognize and support the early career-development activities of those teacher-scholars who are most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century. Each award carries a substantial grant to support the faculty member’s research projects that stimulate the discovery process in which the excitement of research is enhanced by inspired teaching and enthusiastic learning.

Further information can be found at the Oregon State University College of Engineering news site: http://engr.oregonstate.edu/news/story/2318

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