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PolyU scientist bestowed Nukiyama Memorial Award for exceptional thermal science and engineering research

7 Jun 2024

Awards and Achievements

Prof. WANG Zuankai, Associate Vice President (Research and Innovation), Kuok Group Professor in Nature-Inspired Engineering and Chair Professor of Nature-Inspired Engineering of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has been bestowed the 2024 Nukiyama Memorial Award by the Heat Transfer Society of Japan for his significant contributions to thermal science and engineering. 

The Nukiyama Memorial Award is presented biennially to a distinguished scientist in the field of thermal science and engineering. Prof. WANG has received this honour for his groundbreaking discovery in heat transfer research, which addresses critical scientific questions and tackles enduring technological challenges related to boiling phenomena. 

Prof. WANG said, “I am very honored to receive this prestigious award in 2024, after 90 years’ publication of Prof. Nukiyama’s epoch-making work on boiling phenomena. His beautiful boiling curve, known as the Nukiyama Curve, has clarified the physics of boiling phenomena and has become a landmark in heat transfer textbooks today. Our work has fundamentally inhibited the centuries-old Leidenfrost effect, enabling a shift in the Nukiyama Curve and facilitating more efficient boiling heat transfer. These advancements hold immense potential for unlocking a wide array of applications.” 

Prof. WANG’s innovation on structured thermal amour (STA) tackled the longstanding challenges posed by the Leidenfrost effect since 1756. His research “Inhibiting the Leidenfrost effect above 1,000°C for sustained thermal cooling,” published in Nature in 2022. 

When the temperature exceeds the Leidenfrost point, a continuous vapour layer forms between the solid and the liquid, leading to a reduction in heat transfer due to increased thermal resistance. Finding an efficient method to cool hot surface has been a persistent challenge in the fields of thermal engineering and materials science. 

Prof. WANG’s innovated STA strategy holds the potential to enable efficient liquid cooling at extremely high temperature, particularly in fields like aero-engines, space-engines and next generation nuclear reactors. This breakthrough also applies to electronics cooling which suffers from increased heat flux due to device miniaturization.

The invention pushes the boundaries of liquid cooling up to over 1,000°C, resulting in significant technological advancements that enhance thermal cooling in nuclear power plants, engines, microelectronic chips and electronics devices.

The Nukiyama Memorial Award was established by the Heat Transfer Society of Japan to commemorate remarkable contributions of Prof. Shiro Nukiyama as an outstanding heat transfer scientist. The Society aims to foster scientific and technical communication among researchers from various disciplines including mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, and nuclear engineering, among others.  


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