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A. V. Anilkumar

Professor of the Practice of Mechanical Engineering
Professor of the Practice of Aerospace Engineering

Mechanical Engineering

Intellectual Neighborhoods

Research Focus

Professor Anilkumar’s broad research interests are in the areas of aero-propulsion, energy conversion, and microgravity materials processing. His technical interests are in the design and development of experimental facilities, flow diagnostics and instrumentation. He has been a co-investigator of the drop dynamics experiments (DPM) flown on the USML-1 and USML-2 Space Shuttle Missions (1992, 1995), a co-investigator of the pore formation and mobility experiments (PFMI) and the in-Space soldering experiments (ISSI) conducted on the International Space Station (2002, 2004). Professor Anilkumar currently directs the Vanderbilt Aerospace Design Laboratory that is at the forefront of the design of novel, rocket-flyable, payload systems that highlight major challenges in space exploration and energy conversion.

Current Projects

Design and testing of energy conversion devices through low-altitude rocket flight
As part of the annual NASA University Launch Program, we have undertaken the design and flight-based performance evaluation of novel energy conversion payloads. In this context, we have designed (i) a thermoelectric engine for waste heat recovery in aerospace applications, (ii) a cryogen-based cooling facility for simulating cruising airplane flight conditions in low altitude rocket flight, (iii) a bio-fueled subsonic air-breathing ramjet engine which is ignited during flight, and (iv) green hydrogen peroxide thrusters that serve as second stage engines in low altitude rocket flight.

VUSE-MWS Renewable Energy Showcase
In collaboration with Nashville Metro Water Services (MWS), we have set up a wind-solar renewable energy site at Love Hill near Vanderbilt Campus. The main purpose of this project is to examine the feasibility of renewable energy production through solar and wind facilities. Love Hill is one of the highest points in Nashville and the windspeeds atop the hill are high enough for wind power generation, especially during the windy months of November through April. In the first phase of the project, a wind monitoring station was set up at Love Hill to measure and establish analytical boundary layer models for wind speed up the hill and for wind power production.

Experimental study of the dynamics of drops and bubbles with applications to Materials Processing and Biomedical Engineering
In collaboration with scientists at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, we examine the issues of porosity formation and thermocapillary-based bubble migration during controlled directional solidification. Conducted with transparent metal analogues, this study has direct implications to all materials processing experiments in Space. The ground based counterpart experiments are examining porosity formation in microchannels. Another Space-based collaborative experiment examines the fluid physics of soldering in Space. The focus of this study is the surface-tension dominated behavior of molten solder and residual flux during melting and solidification, along with the problem of porosity formation in solder joints.


A.V. Anilkumar, R.N. Grugel, J. Bhowmick, and T.G. Wang, ‘Suppression of thermocapillary oscillations in sodium nitrate half-zones by high-frequency end-wall vibrations’, Journal of Crystal Growth, 276, 2005, pp. 194-203.

Q. Deng, A.V. Anilkumar, and T.G. Wang, ‘Role of viscosity and surface tension in bubble entrapment during liquid drop impact onto surface of a deep liquid pool’, J. Fluid Mech. (2007), vol. 578, pp. 119-138.

M.C. Cox, A.V. Anilkumar, R.N. Grugel and C.P. Lee, ‘Effect of step-wise change in processing pressure on isolated pore growth during controlled directional solidification in small channels’, Journal of Crystal Growth 311 (2009), pp. 327-336.

Q. Deng, A.V. Anilkumar, and T.G. Wang, ‘The phenomenon of bubble entrapment during capsule formation’, Journal of Colloid and Interface Science 333 (2009), 523-532.

Chun P. Lee, Amrutur V. Anilkumar, and Richard N. Grugel, ‘Dynamics of gas evacuation from a honey comb structure having common wall perforations’, Journal of Spacecrafts and Rockets 47 (2010), 649-658.

Richard N. Grugel, Lucien N. Brush, and Amrutur V. Anilkumar, ‘Disruption of an aligned dendritic network by bubbles during re-melting in a microgravity environment’, Microgravity Sci. Technol. 24 (2012), 93-101.

C.P. Lee, A.V. Anilkumar, M.C. Cox, C.B. Lioi, and R.N. Grugel, ‘Evolution of elongated pores at the melt-solid interface during controlled directional solidification’, Acta Materialia 61 (2013), 3752-3757.

A. S. Westover, J. W. Tian, S. Bernath, L. Oakes, R. Edwards, F. N. Shabab, S. Chatterjee, A. V. Anilkumar, and C. L. Pint, ‘A Multifunctional Load-Bearing Solid-State Supercapacitor’, Nano Lett., 2014, 14 (6), 3197–3202.