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Pioneering Women in Thermal Conductivity Research: Shaping the Future of Thermal Engineering

Pioneering Women in Thermal Conductivity Research: Shaping the Future of Thermal Engineering

February 9, 2024

Women have been historically underrepresented in the scientific realm of thermal conductivity research – a field that is pivotal for advancements in materials science, energy efficiency and technology. Despite challenges posed by gender inequality, numerous women have not only entered this domain – they have made groundbreaking contributions that significantly propelled thermal conductivity research forward.

As we celebrate National Women in STEM Day on February 11, it is imperative to shine a spotlight on the remarkable achievements of these pioneering women in thermal conductivity research. Their work challenges the status quo and lays down the foundation for future innovations in thermal engineering.

Thermtest wouldn’t be the technology apex we are without the advancements of the trailblazers before us. Today, we honour five women whose research has significantly impacted the thermal conductivity sector.

A Pioneer in Fused Salt Thermal Properties

Dr. Jocelyne Garbarz-Olivier

Dr. Jocelyne Garbarz-Olivier was a French physicist who received her PhD in physical sciences and was a lecturer at the University of Paris VII. Dr. Jocelyn Garbarz-Olivier, with her seminal work on the thermal properties of fused salts, has opened new avenues in applying these materials in nuclear reactors and thermoelectric generators.

Garbarz and colleague Gulpin were the first to apply an adequate voltage to an electric cell to produce electrolyte vaporization near one of the electrodes. The evaporation was determined by the current/time curves, there being a current drop when the vaporization took place. The thermal conductivity of some fused salts was calculated by introducing the time data in the heat-transfer equation.

The interest in knowledge of the thermal properties of fused salts has increased significantly over the years due to their promising use as a coolant, active material for nuclear power reactors, and as elements for thermoelectric generators.

By pioneering a method to measure electrolyte vaporization, Garbarz-Olivier’s research at the University of Paris VII not only enhanced our understanding of fused salts but also underscored the critical role of accurate thermal property measurement. This principle that aligns perfectly with our ethos of innovation in thermal analysis.


Advancing Fluid Systems Through Thermal Conductivity

Dr. Rodica Vîlcu

Dr. Rodica Vîlcu

Dr. Rodica Vîlcu obtained her PhD in physical chemistry at the University of Bucharest (UB), specializing in statistical mechanics. She started her career as an assistant professor in 1951, teaching physical chemistry, chemical engineering, and chemical thermodynamics courses. She was appointed head of the UB physical chemistry department in 1974.

She is recognized for her Diploma of Excellence (1999), awarded by the University of Bucharest, and her significant contributions to research on the Transient Hot Wire method. Vîlcu’s contributions to the Transient Hot Wire (THW) method have been instrumental in advancing our understanding of fluid systems’ thermophysical properties. She was one of the first researchers to use the transient hot wire method to determine the thermal conductivity of molecular hydrogen, argon, methane, methanol, and ethanol.

She helped pave the way to understanding the thermophysical properties of fluid systems. This has become increasingly important as fluids systems become highly desirable in many industrial processes such as gas treatment, biomass energy processes and Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR). Her research, particularly on the thermal conductivity of gases and liquids, complements the solutions offered by Thermtest, which seeks to provide accurate and reliable thermal conductivity measurements for various materials, including fluids.

Refining Thermal Measurement Techniques

Dr. Sumanjeet Kaur

Dr. Sumanjeet Kaur

The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute awarded Dr. Sumanjeet Kaur her PhD in material science and engineering in 2008. Dr. Kaur is currently head of the Thermal Energy Research Group at Berkely National Laboratory, where she has led significant advancements in the Transient Plane Source (TPS) Method, especially for low thermal conductivity materials.

Prior to her research, while the TPS method was well-established and reliable for measuring the thermal conductivity of a wide range of materials, the method was known to suffer from substantial errors when applied to low thermal conductivity materials such as insulation.

Dr. Kaur and her colleagues developed a correctional function based on error analysis that converted the erroneous results to a more accurate thermal conductivity value. The correction function reduced the error from 40% to <4% for insulation materials.

Her work in developing correctional functions to improve measurement accuracy reflects in our commitment to enhancing thermal measurement technologies for a wide range of materials.


From Research to Innovative Solutions

Dr. Sofia K. Mylona

Dr. Sofia K. Mylona

Dr. Sofia K. Mylona obtained her PhD in chemical engineering from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in 2014. She spent several years conducting research at various universities before joining the Thermtest team as our Principal Research Scientist and Project Manager.

Her significant contributions led to the development of our Transient Hot Wire devices. Her expertise in the thermal properties of liquids and her role in spreading THW methods have been pivotal in positioning Thermtest as the technology apex of thermal conductivity measurement solutions.

Mylona has contributed to numerous scientific publications, sharing her expert knowledge on the thermal properties of liquids, and she is currently a successful Operations Director at BD Inventions PC.


As we commemorate National Women in STEM Day, it’s essential to recognize and celebrate the contributions of women like Dr. Jocelyne Garbarz-Olivier, Dr. Rodica Vîlcu, Dr. Sumanjeet Kaur, and Dr. Sofia K. Mylona. Their groundbreaking research advances our understanding of thermal properties and measurement techniques and inspires a new generation of scientists and engineers. Through partnerships and collaborations, companies like Thermtest are committed to continuing this legacy of innovation and excellence in thermal conductivity research and instrumentation, paving the way for future advancements that will shape the world.

In embracing the contributions of these pioneering women, we not only acknowledge their invaluable impact on thermal conductivity research but also reinforce our commitment to fostering diversity and inclusivity within the STEM fields. Their legacy is a beacon for aspiring female scientists and engineers, illuminating a path toward a more equitable and innovative future in thermal engineering and beyond.

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