Bejan and Lorente Win First Hartnett Award for ‘Smart’ Materials Inspired by Constructal Theory

Adrian BejanAdrian Bejan, J.A. Jones professor of mechanical engineering at Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering, and Sylvie Lorente, professor of civil engineering at the National Institute of Applied Sciences in Toulouse, France, will receive the James P. Hartnett Award at the ASME International Congress of Mechanical Engineering and Exposition in Seattle on Nov. 13.

The Hartnett Award is conferred by the International Center of Heat and Mass Transfer (ICHMT) to the best paper presented at a conference, symposium or seminar sanctioned by the ICHMT during the previous year. Bejan and Lorente's winning presentation is the first to receive this honor. "This was completely unexpected," Bejan said of the award. "It is a particular honor given that it is the inaugural award and therefore sets the standard." "It's a complete surprise, and a great excitement," added Lorente, who is also an adjunct professor at Duke. "When we receive the award in Seattle, it will be a great moment for us." Bejan's presentation detailed his work with Lorente on the application of constructal theory, which describes the evolution of flows in nature, to the design of "vascularized" smart materials, having internal architectures that resemble blood vessels. "These materials have new properties and a new design sensibility," Bejan said. "They might display new functions, such as self-cooling, self-heating or self-healing." For example, the skins of airplanes could be embedded with efficient networks of vessels that would automatically send epoxy out to repair cracks, he explained. The award is the second Bejan and Lorente have shared. They received the Edward F. Obert ASME Prize for Thermodynamics in 2004 for their analytical work on the constructal law. For more on constructal theory, see