MAE | Missouri Compacts: Research and Creative Works

UM Curators name Hongbin 'Bill' Ma Curators' Distinguished Professor

September 15, 2022

Hongbin "Bill" Ma

Hongbin “Bill” Ma

Mizzou Engineering’s Hongbin “Bill” Ma has been named a Curators’ Distinguished Professor, the highest honor bestowed by the University of Missouri System.

“I’m so honored,” Ma said. “This is certainly a highlight of my career at Mizzou, and I appreciate my colleagues and students who have supported me and my work from Day One.”

Ma is Chair and Glen A. Barton Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Over his career, he has made profound contributions in the field of heat transfer in both fundamental understanding and engineering applications, specially through research of oscillating heat pipes (OHPs).

Ma is president and founder of ThermAvant Technologies, which provides the OHP thermal control technology to the top defense companies in the U. S. More recently, his innovative heat transfer products, such as drink-now coffee mugs and thermoelectric heat pipe dehumidifiers, make life more comfortable and more enjoyable.

“Dr. Ma’s work is a great example of how foundational research leads to practical innovations that can translate into real-world consumer products,” said Noah Manring, Dean and Ketcham Professor. “He is recognized around the world for his contributions to the field and is very much deserving of this honor.”

Ma’s research has provided the foundation in ground-breaking applications of OHPs in aerospace engineering and helped to make the OHP become the fourth Generation of Spacecraft Thermal Control Technology in the U.S.

Ma was founding director of the ISoTherM (Innovative Solution of Thermal Management) consortium, which was supported by Intel to develop innovative cooling technologies for laptop and desktop computers. Ma’s fundamental contribution and ISoTherM consortium have contributed substantially to the advancement of heat pipe applications in computer cooling.

Ma and his research team have several notable “firsts.” They were the first to find a thermodynamic equation that can be used to predict the electric field effect on saturation pressure. They were the first to develop an innovative two-fluid-absorption refrigeration system using three thermodynamic cycles to deliver a more efficient thermal energy system. They were the first to find analytical solutions for the vapor flow effect on a curved liquid-vapor interface.

Ma’s team was the first to develop an equation to predict the mixed participle effect on the meniscus radius of capillary flow. They were the first to develop an equation to predict the operation limit of an oscillating heat pipe and the first to present an equation to predict the charging ratio limit for an oscillating heat pipe. They were the first to develop an analytical solution that can be used to predict maximum heat transfer for a given thin film evaporation and the first to provide an analytical solution for thin film evaporation on a curved surface.

Many of his fundamental findings, which are summarized in his book, “Oscillating Heat Pipes,” have resulted in numerous breakthroughs and demonstrate his leadership in the field of thermal science.

Ma has a number of awards, including being elected a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors in 2020, the highest professional distinction given to academic inventors. He is also an ASME Fellow and serves on dozens of international committees.

Visit Show Me Mizzou to see all of the Mizzou faculty members who were named Curators’ Distinguished Professors at the Sept. 7 Board of Curators meeting.