ITHERM 2006 ACHIEVEMENT AWARD RECIPIENT
Prof. Robert J. Moffatt
Dr. Robert J. Moffat is a Professor at Stanford University and President of Moffat Thermosciences, Inc. Prof. Moffat started his professional career at the General Motors Research Laboratories on graduation from the University of Michigan (1952) in the Gas Turbine Laboratory. He assumed responsibility in 1958 for the testing of periodic-flow heat exchangers for regenerative gas turbines and the development of seals for these devices. He completed requirements for the degree of Master of Science, Engineering Mechanics, at Wayne State University in 1961, with a thesis on the behavior of ground effect machines (i.e., hover-craft) having thick curtain jets. He then enrolled in Stanford University in 1962 and completed the requirements for Master of Science (Mechanical Engineering), Engineer (Mechanical), and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering. He was appointed Acting Associate Professor, 1966, Associate Professor, 1967, and Professor of Mechanical Engineering, 1972, and served as the Director of the Thermosciences Industrial Affiliates Program from 1967 to 1986 and as Chairman of the Thermosciences Division from1973 to 1986.
His research efforts have involved three areas: convective heat transfer in engineering systems, experimental methods in heat transfer and fluid mechanics, and biomedical thermal issues. The largest body of work concerns convective heat transfer. The first program, begun in 1967 and continued until 2002, focused on gas turbine blade and vane heat transfer. The second program, begun in 1980 and continuing to the present, is aimed at convective cooling of electronic components. Early work focused on measuring heat transfer coefficients in a coherent sequence of experiments covering forced convection, free convection and mixed convection. From these data, a clear physical picture of the mechanisms was extracted. The behavior of finned heat sinks was studied analytically and experimentally, to explain the effect of the local pressure gradient on the heat sink behavior. In its broadest terms, the Stanford work was the first to capitalize on the linearity of the heat transfer process and use superposition to deal with heat transfer from arrays of objects that are non-uniformly heated. Several significant contributions came out of these programs: (1) a demonstration of the importance of developing invariant descriptors of heat transfer, (2) a new definition of the heat transfer coefficient for electronics cooling (the concept of hadiabatic) and (3) the development of a simple correlation for predicting had with useful accuracy based on an estimate of the turbulence intensity.
The second area of research concerned experimental methods in the thermosciences. The pioneering work of S. J.Kline was extended and developed into a tool useful in planning experimental programs of provable accuracy. A good deal of work was done on the use of thermocouples for point-wise temperature measurements and full-field imaging techniques for temperature, heat flux, and heat transfer coefficient measurement using thermochromic liquid crystals and digital image handling. The experimental methods program contributed regularly to the theory of uncertainty analysis through presentations and publications. Professor Moffat was an invited lecturer for 40 consecutive years in the Measurement Engineering Series (originally through Arizona State University), for more than 20 years in the Instrument Society of America Test Measurements Division Professional Development Program and, for ten years, in the ASME Professional Development program.
There was been a continuing, small scale effort on biomedical engineering problems, in particular the thermal protection of newborn infants. A self-contained, portable incubator was developed which provided a neutral thermal environment for the infant while allowing free access by the attending physicians. It has been used on almost every continent where cold-weather transport is needed and resulted in the award of the ASME Holley Medal Award, 1987.
Moffat Thermosciences, Inc. was incorporated in 1984 as a vehicle for consulting, research, and teaching in Heat Transfer and Experimental Methods. The corporation has been active in preparing and delivering short courses in the area of Electronics Cooling, Experimental Methods, and Uncertainty Analysis, as well as problem solving.