Associate mechanical engineering professor researching heat management approaches for national defense applications

Published: Jun 13, 2024 10:00 AM

By Jeremy Henderson

National defense applications in space are heating up. That's good news in a certain sense, not so good in another.

"There's obviously no air in space, no standard means of venting heat from electronics like you might normally envision," said Dan Harris, associate professor of mechanical engineering. "We have to find new ways to dissipate that heat because as weapons systems in space, and even terrestrial and airborne environments, grow more sophisticated, traditional waste heat management scenarios are becoming obsolete. That's what this project aims to address."

Harris is speaking of his recent $593,886 grant from defense and technology contractor L3-Harris, which will go toward research into mitigating the challenges of short duration bursts of high-power dissipation rates on emerging defense systems designs.

Titled "Cooling Strategies for High Peak Power, Low Duty Cycle Heat Dissipation Profiles," the project will both develop and explore emerging thermal management materials and technologies as applied to the needs (specifically related to space and weight requirements ) of several L3-Harris production systems

"The approaches we will be considering include direct and non-direct contact methods of phase-change materials," Harris said. "Emerging phase-change materials will be researched which contain complex material matrices laced with nanoparticles.

"It's exciting to think that work on advanced cooling technologies being done at Auburn is going toward enabling a new generation of defense capabilities."

Media Contact: Jeremy Henderson,, 334-844-3591
Daniel Harris

Daniel Harris

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