Director of Lehigh’s Energy Research Center and newly named university fellow/distinguished research scientist recognized for significant R&D contributions

Dr. Carlos Romero, director of Lehigh University’s Energy Research Center (ERC), 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 75,000 ASME members worldwide, fewer than 3,500 are designated as Fellows.

An ASME member since 1986, Romero has more than 30 years of experience in energy research, power generation and energy systems, combustion and clean fuel utilization, and environmental science. More recently, his work aligns with the transition to a net-zero carbon power generation matrix that includes renewable energy and energy storage.

“Dr. Romero is an excellent researcher, scholar, and leader in R&D and is well deserving of the rank of ASME Fellow,” says Arindam Banerjee, chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics in the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science. “He has led efforts to develop cross-cutting technologies for the power generation industry, including advanced instrumentation, soft-sensors, and artificial intelligence-based data processing techniques.”

Romero joined Lehigh in 1995 as a research scientist and has been promoted numerous times, most recently from principal research scientist to university fellow/distinguished research scientist.

In 2013, he was appointed director of the ERC, which operates within Lehigh’s Institute for Cyber Physical Infrastructure and Energy (I-CPIE). Established in 1972, the ERC is one of the oldest energy research centers in the country and recognized globally for research contributions in power generation technologies, energy systems, environmental compliance, and recent efforts in renewables and energy storage.

Romero oversees ERC operations and supervises associated research staff, graduate and undergraduate students, and visiting research scholars. He also develops concepts and leads interdisciplinary research teams across the Rossin College and with outside research groups which has led to multi-million-dollar grants from multiple government funding agencies, national labs, industry, and international sources.

Romero is a pioneer in the development of cyber-physical system approaches for the power industry. His work on applications of artificial intelligence and new optimization algorithms has led to the development and commercialization of a suite of software that has been utilized at more than 30 power generation plants in the US and abroad.

“Dr. Romero’s research achievements are quite significant and have contributed to advances in industrial process control, which is a driving force in the new paradigm, Industry 4.0,” says Robert De Saro, president of Energy Research Company (ERCo). De Saro and Romero have been frequent collaborators, most recently on a project combining AI and spectroscopy to analyze municipal solid waste for use as an energy source for the production of hydrogen.

Additional R&D contributions include work in developing a research program that expanded fundamental knowledge of mercury emissions formation from combustion sources and introduced novel approaches for controlling them. In 2019, Romero presented those findings, by invitation of the United Nations, at the Third Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP3) to the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

Romero has introduced new concepts in thermal energy storage, including the integration of solid-state materials and phase change materials, and has worked on novel carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration (CCUS) concepts, including the hybridization of amine-based carbon capture systems with solar energy and the utilization of supercritical CO2 for geothermal heat mining and geothermal power generation.

He has published more than 80 journal papers, nearly 120 conference proceedings, and over 190 technical reports. He holds four patents and is sought out frequently by energy industry leaders and governmental agencies for expertise.

“Throughout the years, I have witnessed Dr. Romero’s research focus deftly change with industry and societal needs,” says Mark D. D’Agostini ’83 ’87G ’98 PhD, a former ERC research scientist who is now manager of combustion technology at Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. “In his evolution from coal-fired boilers to sensors and artificial intelligence, renewable energy, carbon capture, energy storage, and beyond, Carlos has always risen to the top of his field.”

Carlos Romero

Dr. Carlos Romero, university fellow/distinguished research and director of Lehigh University’s Energy Research Center (ERC), has been elected as a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).