Prestigious honor recognizes MechE chair’s outstanding achievements and contributions to fluid dynamics, including the development of innovative experimental testbeds

Professor Arindam Banerjee, chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics in Lehigh University’s P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science, has been elected as a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

The distinction, one most prestigious in the field, recognizes outstanding achievements made by longstanding members of the professional society. Of the nearly 80,000 ASME members worldwide, fewer than 3,500 have received the honor.

Banerjee conducts research in multi-scale fluid dynamics with particular emphasis on energy and biological systems. He joined the Rossin College faculty as an assistant professor in 2012,   was promoted to the rank of full professor in 2020, and became department chair in 2021.

He leads Lehigh’s Turbulent Flow Design Group, which investigates turbulent flows with applications related to hydrodynamic instabilities, marine renewable energy, and pulmonary fluid dynamics. 

“Election to the rank of ASME Fellow is confirmation of Dr. Banerjee’s outstanding accomplishments in research and development, as well as his leadership in the engineering profession and service to ASME,” says Francine Battaglia, Professor and Chair of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University at Buffalo. “The common thread throughout his impressive research program is fluid dynamics, and the complex interactions with turbulence, mixing, instabilities, and the associated mechanisms. He has strategically applied fundamental research to novel concepts, like marine hydrokinetic energy systems, and targeted areas that have received national attention as evidenced by his funding.”

Banerjee’s research is supported by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the Office of Naval Research, with more than $16.8 million in total funding ($5.75 million as Principal Investigator). He has authored/coauthored more than 50 refereed articles, as well as five book chapters and 75-plus conference presentations/publications.

Fluid dynamics and fusion

Banerjee’s work and inventive experimental design has expanded the research possibilities in the study of variable density (VD) flows, where the density of fluids being mixed vary greatly. These conditions occur in situations and processes involving high speeds (supersonic aviation) and high energy density (inertial confinement fusion), as well as in nature (ocean and atmospheric flows; volcanic island formation). 

He and his team have built several one-of-a-kind, highly specialized devices to effectively investigate the dynamics of fluids and other materials under the influence of high acceleration and centrifugal force. The experiments replicate the conditions of inertial confinement, one of the most promising paths to generating energy through nuclear fusion.

For example, Banerjee’s group studies Rayleigh-Taylor (RT) instability (which occurs between materials of different densities when the density and pressure gradients are in opposite directions creating an unstable stratification) with a setup using two counter-rotating wheels. The platform allows for large and variable acceleration studies and provides unprecedented opportunities to deepen fundamental knowledge of the RT phenomenon. 

Innovation in marine energy

Banerjee has also developed an innovative water channel experimental facility for studying hydrokinetic turbines, another promising avenue for renewable energy generation.

Marine Renewable Energy (MRE) systems are an emerging class of renewable energy systems that harness the kinetic energy of flowing water—whether a stream, river, stream, tidal strait, ocean, or artificial waterway—without the use of dams or diversions. Although predictable flow and energy production patterns give this method an advantage over other forms of renewable energy, further scientific research and technological development is needed to bring MRE systems into the mainstream. 

To advance that goal, Banerjee has developed an “active grid turbulence generator” at Lehigh. The facility mimics free-stream turbulence conditions in marine energy sites for research into fluid dynamics questions that are critical to advancing this renewable energy technology. 

Engineering leadership

Banerjee is engaged with ASME through his role as an associate editor for the ASME Journal of Fluids Engineering; he also served as lead editor of a special issue published in 2020 commemorating the journal’s former chief editor Malcolm J. Andrews. Banerjee is an ASME Technical Committee Member of Fluid Mechanics and a voting member of the ASME Flow Measurement Committee. He has organized several tracks in ASME meetings, has served as session chair in numerous professional and scientific conferences, and has been an invited speaker and panelist for the NSF, the DOE, and other national and international research agencies. 

At Lehigh, he is a member of the advisory council for the Institute for Cyber Physical Energy and Infrastructure (I-CPIE), one of the university’s three Interdisciplinary Research Institutes (IRIs). He served on the envisioning committee that led to the formation of these hubs for cross-disciplinary team research in 2018.

He was recognized by the Rossin College for outstanding supervision of doctoral students in 2019 and has played an instrumental role in the continuous improvement of the mechanical engineering and mechanics curriculum. Over the years, he has undertaken several pedagogical initiatives in the department and engineering outreach activities in the community related to his research in renewable energy.

Arindam Banerjee

Newly elected ASME Fellow Arindam Banerjee is professor and chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics in the Rossin College.