Patricia Weisensee, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at the McKelvey School of Engineering, has received a $330,221 grant from the National Science Foundation to study dropwise condensation and its effects on heat transfer.
Lubricant-infused surfaces (LIS), which consist of a microporous surface infused with a thin oil layer, promote dropwise condensation, which leads to smaller and more efficient energy and water harvesting than film condensation. However, the widespread implementation of LIS in commercial applications is limited due to an incomplete understanding of droplet-lubricant interactions, droplet nucleation and growth, and lubricant drainage.
Weisensee’s project aims to elucidate these dynamics and study their influence on condensation heat transfer rates. Furthermore, the project will foster interest in science and help overcome barriers for women and underrepresented minorities interested in engineering via outreach programs at a local all-girls middle school and summer research internships for talented high school students.