Penn State

Mechanical & Nuclear Engineering

Turbine Heat Transfer and Aerodynamics Group

Overview of ExCCL and START Labs

The Turbine Heat Transfer and Aerodynamics Group, in the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at Penn State, brings together two laboratories working on advanced topics in convective heat transfer for gas turbine engines. The Experimental and Computational Convection Laboratory (ExCCL) conducts studies of fundamental turbulence and applied convective heat transfer. Subjects being researched include interactions between the highly turbulent combustor flow and the downstream turbine, endwall secondary flow effects, and turbine blade cooling techniques. These problems are approached both experimentally as well as computationally. The Steady Thermal Aero Research Turbine (START) lab contains a new test turbine facility that is capable of testing true scale turbine hardware. The focus of START is on increasing turbine efficiencies through improved seals that reduce leakages between turbine components. Also of primary interest is better understanding of airfoil heat transfer under rotating conditions.

PSU ExCCL and START students, faculty, and staff at the Penn State Lion Shrine.



Recent News


Stimpson Receives Alumni Association Dissertation Award

April 26, 2017

Curtis Stimpson, a fifth-year doctoral candidate in the START Lab, received a 2017 Alumni Association Dissertation Award from the Graduate School. This award is considered to be among the most prestigious available to Penn State graduate students and recognizes outstanding achievement in scholarship and professional accomplishment. Stimpson was recognized for his experimental convective heat transfer research evaluating the use of additive manufacturing to cool components in gas turbine engines. He received his medal at the Graduate School Alumni Society's Recognition Program April 18. Read More...


START Lab Expansion Complete

March 21, 2017

Through strong support from United Technologies-Pratt & Whitney, a 2000 sq ft addition to the START Lab was recently completed. The additional space significantly increases available space for testing and fabrication to support the development and research for gas turbines. The new space will house a dedicated additive manufacturing research facility, a high speed linear cascade, a machine shop, and room for future test rigs and turbine assembly. A ribbon cutting event was held to celebrate this major milestone in the START Lab history. Attendees include representatives from United Technologies and Pratt and Whitney, the sponsors for the lab expansion, as well as College of Engineering Dean Amr Elnashai, and University Vice President for Research, Neil Sharkey. View Event Photos...


Lynch receives Volvo's Innovation Gateway Prize

February 6, 2017

Dr. Stephen Lynch, director of the ExCCL, has been awarded an Innovation Gateway prize for a nine-month study with Volvo titled “Optimized Diesel Engine, Exhaust Waste Heat Recovery Components via Additive Manufacturing.” Volvo is the first industry partner to complete a research challenge through Innovation Gateway, which aims to connect faculty ideas with organizations that can bring them to the marketplace. Read more...


Karen Thole named Distinguished Professor

January 9, 2017

Dr. Karen Thole, professor and department head of mechanical and nuclear engineering at Penn State and director of the START lab, has been named a Penn State distinguished professor. The title of distinguished professor was established by the Office of the President to recognize the academic contributions of a select group of current, full-time faculty members who hold the rank of professor and are acknowledged leaders in their fields of research or creative activity. Distinguished professors demonstrate significant leadership in raising the University's standards in teaching, research or creative activity and service, and exhibit excellent teaching skills. Read more...