Bejan Receives Luikov Medal for International Impact on Thermal Sciences

Adrian Bejan, J. A. Jones Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering, has received the Luikov Medal for his contributions to the field of thermal sciences, including his development of the constructal law of design in nature. The awards ceremony was held at the International Heat Transfer Conference in Sydney on Aug. 14.

“I’m truly honored to have received this award, one of the rarest in the thermal sciences worldwide,” Bejan said. The Luikov Medal is awarded every two years to a researcher whose career in the field has made an international impact, he said. Aleksey Luikov is regarded as the father of the field of mass transfer.

Bejan’s research covers a wide range of topics in thermodynamics, heat transfer, fluid mechanics, convection and porous media. He has developed the constructal law, a powerful analytical approach to describing movement, or flows, in nature. The theory arises from the basic principle that flow systems evolve so as to minimize imperfections -- energy wasted to friction or other forms of resistance -- such that the least amount of useful energy is lost. The theory applies to virtually everything that moves.

For example, his earlier work examined the law’s application to traffic flows, the cooling of small-scale electronics and river currents. Bejan recently reported that the theory can explain basic characteristics of locomotion for every creature, whether they run, swim or fly. The physics principle also explains many essential features of global circulation and climate, including the boundaries between different climate zones, average wind speed and the average temperature difference between night and day.

Bejan received all his degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has been a distinguished professor in Duke’s mechanical engineering department since 1989. He has received 15 honorary doctorates from universities in 10 different countries.