Research Activities of Professor John M. Cimbala

Latest update: 14 January 2011

Dr. Cimbala conducts experimental and computational research in basic fluid mechanics, turbulence, and turbomachinery.

Initially, Professor Cimbala's research was experimental, utilizing wind tunnels, water tunnels, laser Doppler velocimetry (LDV), hot-wire anemometry, smoke-wire flow visualization, etc. In the late 1980's Dr. Cimbala and his students developed neutron radiography as a flow visualization tool. This technique is unique in that it enables researchers to visualize fluid flow through opaque metal casings. Professor Cimbala has also completed research projects dealing with turbulent wakes, momentumless wakes, jets in cross flow, ground vortices, wing-body junction vortices, and freely rotatable cylinder/splitter plates. In 1994 he also gained interest in the air pollution control area. Dr. Cimbala's recent experimental research efforts involve a study of particle-laden flows through pipe elbows.

Since his sabbatical leave at NASA - Langley Research Center in 1993-94, Dr. Cimbala's research has shifted more towards computational fluid dynamics (CFD), although he still conducts experimental research as well. In particular, some recent CFD projects have focused on direct numerical simulations (DNS) and turbulence modeling of turbulent far wakes, the incorporation of turbulence models into turbomachinery CFD codes, and the use of CFD to predict flows through the turbines and draft tubes of large hydroelectric dams.

Most recently, Professor Cimbala has been using ANSYS-FLUENT (commercial CFD software) and OpenFOAM (open-source CFD software) for both research and teaching. Recent examples of research activities with Fluent include hydroturbines, cooling water tanks and ponds, nuclear reactor cores, and room ventilation.

Results from Dr. Cimbala's most recent hydroturbine research can be found at