Activities on heat transfer and energy systems in the Department were initiated by Prof. Arcot Ramachandran in the 1960s as a pioneering initiative which led to the establishment of major programmes in energy research across the country. Today, the research group in thermal sciences and energy systems is the largest one in the Department, and has contributed significantly in basic and applied research. The newly founded Interdisciplinary Centre for Energy Research (ICER) at IISc emerged out of this group’s efforts. This centre handles some of the biggest projects in the Institute, namely the Indo-US solar consortium (SERIIUS), the National Centre for Combustion Research and Development (NCCRD) and the National Centre for Clean Coal Research and Development (NCCCRD).
Present activities in Prof. Pradip Dutta’s lab include development of cooling technologies (adsorption cooling, loop heat pipes, phase change materials) and development of high-temperature solar thermal receivers along with thermo-chemical storage technologies. Prof. R.V. Ravikrishna initiated combustion research activities, which was subsequently augmented by Prof. Saptarshi Basu’s lab. In this area, topics include spray dynamics and atomization, trapped vortex combustion, research on fuel injectors for gas turbine combustion, laser diagnostics, and combustion from levitated droplets. Prof. Pramod Kumar has developed India’s first supercritical CO2 (s-CO2) Brayton test loop for power generation and is developing micro-channel heat exchangers for s-CO2. Research on IC engines is being carried out by Dr. Himabindu and Dr. R.T. Naik. Dr. G.S.V.L. Narasimham’s lab works on cooling technologies and refrigeration. Our recent addition, Dr. Susmita Dash, specializes in microscale thermal transport.
In addition to fundamental research, the group has also actively collaborated with industries for technology development and translational research. Notable among them are development of s-CO2 turbomachinery with Triveni Turbines (Prof. Kumar), successful flight testing of loop heat pipe by ISRO (Prof. Dutta), development of molten salt based thermal storage loop with HPCL (Prof. Basu) and development of natural gas combustor for s-CO2 power cycle with GAIL (Prof. Ravikrishna).