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Eckhard Groll wins J&E Hall Gold

Eckhard Groll receives the award at last night’s Institute of Refrigeration Dinner

UK: Dr Eckhard A Groll, one of the world’s leading experts on thermal engineering as applied to HVACR systems and equipment, has won this year’s J&E Hall Gold Medal.

The annual Gold Medal award and its £5,000 prize, which recognises contributions to the advancement of refrigeration and air conditioning, was presented at last night’s Institute of Refrigeration Dinner in London.

Eckhard Groll is the Reilly professor of mechanical engineering and also serves as the associate dean of undergraduate and graduate education in the College of Engineering at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana. He teaches thermodynamics and his research focuses on the fundamental thermal sciences as applied to advanced energy conversion systems, components, and their working fluids.

Commenting on the award, Professor Groll said: “I am very excited to receive this award particularly considering the history of J&E Hall and the fact that the company was the inventor of the first CO2 compressor. I have worked in this area throughout my academic career at Purdue. The link is absolutely fascinating for me.”

Since joining Purdue University as an assistant professor in 1994 he has been involved in more than 150 research and educational grants with a total budget of around $13m. During that time he has made unique contributions in the field of positive displacement compressor analysis and has led teams whose work has benefited heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration industries across the globe.

Eckhard Groll at work at Purdue University

An ASHRAE Fellow, he has been the recipient of a string of awards, just last year receiving thePeter Ritter von Rittinger International Heat Pump Award.

Together with his colleagues and graduate students, he has developed detailed and comprehensive simulation models of hermetic PD compressors, including scroll, rolling piston, reciprocating, linear, rotating spool, bowtie and S-RAM using different working fluids including HFCs, HFOs and natural refrigerants.

The models have been used extensively by his research sponsors to improve existing compressors or develop new ones. One of the first comprehensive models Professor Groll and his team developed focused on predicting the performance of horizontal hermetic scroll compressors. The research enabled Panasonic to successfully develop a new version of their scroll compressor, the e-scroll, in the early 2000s.

He is currently working on achieving isothermal compression processes in linear and twin screw compressors by 3D printing internal cooling loops inside the critical compression parts to achieve hot-spot cooling.

Professor Groll said: “I know many of the accomplished people who have won this award over the past decade or so and I feel I am being elevated into an elite group. I love this job. I am also educating students and this has always been at the forefront of everything I do.

“Over 23 years I have undertaken fascinating work involving technologies that have advanced the HVAC and refrigeration industries. I am most proud of the graduate students that I was able to educate through this research and being able to help place them gain successful positions and careers over time. For me they become like adopted children that are all out there and doing well. That is by far the most gratifying aspect of my job.”

Around 2000 students have benefited from Professor Groll’s tutelage over the years – including 25 PhD graduates and more than 70 Masters students. He added: “I have enjoyed being able to work with a diverse group of industries.”

Other awards last night saw Keith Simmons, technical supervisor at Flowrite picked up the coveted IoR Service Engineer Section Lifetime Achievement Award. The Kenneth Lightfoot Medal for the best evening paper went to Rob Lamb of Star and Christina Francis of London South Bank University received the Ted Perry Award for student research. 

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