Thermofluids and Energy 

Collage of researchers working on equipment

The thermofluids and energy research super group studies coupled fluid mechanics, heat transfer, and thermodynamics problems with the goal of developing sustainable propulsion and power generation systems. These systems feature external and internal aerodynamic flows, two-phase heat transfer, combustion instability, and propellants and energetics, to name a few examples. Specific research thrusts include: 

  • Increasing efficiency while reducing the size of gas turbine engines important to novel and new turbine architectures including hybrid electric propulsion systems 
  • Leveraging advanced manufacturing techniques, including metal additive manufacturing, to create new and efficient cooling methods 
  • Developing novel diagnostics (using high-speed lasers and cameras and minimally-invasive probes) as well as signal processing strategies (using statistical, machine learning, and physics-informed techniques) to study complex fluid and energy systems like swirl-stabilized combustors, supersonic jets, high-speed inlets, and more 

Sample Projects

  • Reducing the Turbine Fuel Burn through Double-Wall Cooling Made Possible by Additive Manufacturing
    Sponsor: Federal Aviation Administration 
    Faculty PIs: K. A. Thole and S. P. Lynch 
  • Computing flame transfer functions from multi-fidelity measurements and simulations 
    Sponsor: Solar Turbines Inc. 
    Faculty PIs: Y. Xuan and S. J. Grauer 
  • Physics-informed background-oriented schlieren for wildfire-relevant combustion 
    Sponsor: National Science Foundation 
    Faculty PI: S. J. Grauer 
  • ARTHUR (Advanced Reflood Thermal Hydraulics Uncertainties Resolution) 
    Sponsor: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission 
    Faculty PI: F. B. Cheung 
  • Piezoenergetics – Coupled Piezoelectric and Nanoenergetic Materials with Tailorable and Switchable Reactivity 
    Sponsor: Air Force Office of Scientific Research and Purdue 
    Faculty PIs: Richard Yetter and Eric Boyer 
  • Enhancing CMC Temperature Performance in High Hydrogen Environments using Field Assisted Sintering Technology 
    Sponsor: Department of Energy—National Energy Technology Laboratory 
    Faculty PIs: S. Lynch, J. O’Connor, D. Wolfe (Applied Research Lab) 
Graduate Progmras
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With more than 60 faculty members, 330 graduate students, and 1,000 undergraduate students, the Penn State Department of Mechanical Engineering embraces a culture that welcomes individuals with a diversity of backgrounds and expertise. Our faculty and students are innovating today what will impact tomorrow’s solutions to meeting our energy needs, homeland security, biomedical devices, and transportation systems. We offer B.S. degrees in mechanical engineering as well as resident (M.S., Ph.D.) and online (M.S.) graduate degrees in mechanical engineering. See how we’re inspiring change and impacting tomorrow at

Department of Mechanical Engineering

137 Reber Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4400

Phone: 814-865-2519