James Cotton
Professor, Mechanical Engineering

My research interests centre on the thermo-fluid sciences directly related to Thermal Energy Conversion and Management. I am currently developing a research program encompassing Conservation and Demand/Supply Management and Integration of Sustainable Energy Sources to determine a “Best Mix Approach” to energy generation. My research initiatives include both experimental and computational investigations of heat transfer, thermodynamics and fluid dynamics and topics addressing fundamental issues in the thermal sciences as well as integrated technologies for real life thermal management problems.

During my time in industry (Dana Corp. - until, June 2007), the main focus of my research activities included automotive power plant and fuel cell thermal system management system design and emission control. I was the supervisor of the Heat Transfer Research team at Dana and I provided research and development leadership by determining vision, strategy and goals for heat transfer related activities for the Division. The role involved the development of a team of seven engineers to establish and maintain a problem oriented technical resource base to support advanced product development. My research in design and analysis of next generation heat transfer surfaces for product advancement and new product development resulted in two novel patents of new concept surfaces and devices. Methods to predict and optimize the performance of surfaces such as louvered fins through the mechanistic models were developed. The research also involved the first completely virtual design and competitive benchmarking development program for a heat transfer surface that, through years of effort and collaboration with the Advanced Manufacturing Team, resulted in a design appropriate for high volume manufacturing. Further, the research facilitated the development of a novel experimental method to accurately measure the heat transfer coefficient and friction factor of ‘turbs’ (heat transfer surface for viscous liquids) and fins (heat transfer surfaces for gases). As a research engineer I was responsible for the design, development and optimization of five different fuel cell thermal management systems for major fuel cell customers. The work resulted in a patented thermal management system that exhibited increased system efficiency, a reduced number of components and enhanced control features. The work made possible the commercialization of several first generation systems ranging in size from 5kW to 75kW. Applications ranged from stationary combined heat and power applications for residential use to a proof of concept demonstration vehicle.

My current interests leverage my industry experience however the focus has shifted towards the broader focus of technologies for efficient energy conversion and utilization which aim to meet the urgent challenge of a sustainable energy supply. My research is focused on strategic technologies involving both innovations in emerging technologies and improvements to existing ones. Technical areas spanned by this research include: thermo-hydraulics of power systems; energy efficiency in a wide range of systems, including HVAC, refrigeration and waste heat recovery systems; microelectronics thermal management; energy mediation and storage thermal management and system design, modeling and optimization; the development of a ‘smart’ electrohydrodynamic heat exchanger; thermal energy storage and non-thermal plasma flue gas cleaning systems.

My efforts in technology are grounded in a deep appreciation of the fundamental sciences, including research in these areas: thermodynamics; transport phenomena, including heat and mass transfer; two-phase flows; electrohydrodynamics; and various aspects of fluid dynamics. Specific topics of interest include the mechanisms of heat transfer during nucleate pool boiling, the physics of vapour bubble growth, phase change phenomena in graphite foams, phase change material thermal storage, two phase flow and flow accelerated corrosion, electrohydrodynamic (EHD) active control of heat transfer, microscale and electronics thermal management.
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  • PHONE: 905-525-9140 ext. 24899
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