Emily Tow lab bench

Performance of desalination and membrane systems

Organic and inorganic fouling of desalination systems can be measured, modeled, and controlled, to improve process design, reduce energy consumption, and increase reliability. Emily Tow (PhD ’17) investigated hydraulic pressure’s influence on fouling.

DRL condenser image


At the Device Research Laboratory, we theoretically and experimentally study superhydrophobic and oleophobic surfaces to enhance condensation heat transfer for water and refrigerant based condensation systems.

FOCUS experimental setup

Solar energy conversion

Postdoc Thomas Cooper and graduate student Lee Weinstein completed the FOCUS experimental setup.

Produced water sample purified by HDH

Desalination and Water Purification

The Lienhard group develops energy efficient technologies for desalination and water purification. Both experimental and theoretical approaches are used, covering a broad range of thermal, membrane, and chemical separation systems.

MOF for atmospheric moisture harvesting

Water harvesting

Device based on a porous metal-organic framework {MOF-801, [Zr6O4(OH)4(fumarate)6]} that captures water from the atmosphere at ambient conditions by using low-grade heat from natural sunlight at a flux of less than 1 sun (1 kilowatt per square meter). This device is capable of harvesting 2.8 liters of water per kilogram of MOF daily at relative humidity levels as low as 20% and requires no additional input of energy.

Solar water evaporator

Solar evaporation

Graduate student George Ni holds a bubble-wrapped, sponge-like device that soaks up natural sunlight and heats water to boiling temperatures, generating steam through its pores.

Current Faculty

Gang Chen photo

Gang Chen
Carl Richard Soderberg Professor of Power Engineering
Department Head, Mechanical Engineering

John Lienhard photo

John H. Lienhard V
Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Water and Mechanical Engineering
Director, J-WAFS

Evelyn Wang photo

Evelyn N. Wang
Gail E. Kendall Professor
Associate Department Head, Mechanical Engineering


Research in transport phenomena and energy conversion processes for sustainable energy and water systems, electronics thermal management, manufacturing, and emerging technologies.

Image of RK Lab


Our laboratory originated in the Physical Laboratory of the Physics department, which was established by Professor Edward C. Pickering in 1870. The Heat Measurements Laboratory became a separate entity in 1889, under the leadership of Professor Silas W. Holman ('76). Professor Charles L. Norton ('93) took charge of the laboratory in 1897. The original lab, at MIT's Boston Campus, is shown in some of the photos that MIT submitted to St. Louis World's Fair in 1904. Professor Gordon B. Wilkes ('11) became the director of the lab during the 1920's. In 1934, the Heat Measurements Laboratory (and Wilkes) joined the Mechanical Engineering Department, and the lab soon moved into the basement of Building 7. Professor Warren M. Rohsenow succeeded Wilkes as lab director in 1956, a position he held until 1985. Thereafter, Professor Peter Griffith, who had kept his office in the lab since the early 1950's and who worked closely with all students in the lab, served as lab director until his retirement in 1997.

The lab was named in Rohsenow's honor in 1992. During 2010, through a generous gift by lab alumna Dr. Gail E. Kendall, the lab underwent a full renovation, and it was renamed the Rohsenow Kendall Heat Transfer Lab at that time.

Detailed history of the Rohsenow Kendall Lab, 1870-1992.
History of heat engineering in ME, 1865-1945.

Subjects in Heat and Mass Transfer

2.500: Desalination and Water Purification (about)
2.51: Intermediate Heat and Mass Transfer
2.52J: Thermal Modelling and Approximation (about)

2.55: Advanced Heat Transfer
2.57/2.570: Nano-to-Macro Transport Processes
2.59J: Thermal Hydraulics in Power Technology