Rising costs of oil and natural gas are putting the squeeze not only on homeowners and drivers but also on manufacturing plants, which typically spend 10% to 13% of their operational costs on energy.
DOE supports 26 Industrial Assessment Centers across the country, including one at Lehigh. As an IAC investigator, Neti, with Alparslan Oztekin, associate professor of mechanical engineering and mechanics, visits plants to discuss operations and energy issues with managers. His team presents energy-efficiency options and estimates how much plants might save on energy costs.
“The IACs make a national impact in a way most people wouldn’t think about,” says Neti. “DOE realizes these visits are not just about saving money but also affecting energy use 10 or 20 years from now.”
Neti’s IAC role grew out of his interest in energy-transport processes. He studies heat and mass transfer in systems as large as power plants and as tiny as biological cells. His current projects include studying blood flow in the heart in hopes of taking corrective action before more invasive techniques are needed, and developing MEMS to sense changes in cells’ rheological properties.
Neti is also characterizing the flow properties of immiscible fluids like polyethylene glycol and canola oil to better understand the stability of these flows, which have application in injection molding and extrusion.
Neti enjoys an intellectual boost from the variety of his work.
“As many plants as I’ve gone to, every time I visit one for the first time, it’s a new experience,” he says. “We get access that visitors would not usually get, and there is lots to be learned, not just for me but also for my students. It’s clearly eye-opening for them.”