Qian, Suxin Ph.D. 2015

Research Topic: 

Development of Thermoelastic Cooling Systems


Story by Francesca Pascual.
Photos by Mary Baugher and Amanda M. McCrum.

Suxin Qian is very excited about his work in air-conditioning and refrigeration using solid-state cooling technology, as opposed to traditional vapor compression systems. In his thesis, Development of Thermoelastic Cooling Systems, Qian conducted the first comprehensive study on using this relatively new technology, focusing on material performance. He is looking forward to graduating in December with a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering.

The results make it worth it

Qian also developed the first solid state prototype for air-conditioning and refrigeration using thermoelastic cooling. He used the prototype to compare the effectiveness of a solid-state system compared to the effectiveness of a vapor compression system. He also conducted a simulation of the two systems. Though his solid-state prototype did not show it the results of the simulation demonstrated that the performance of both systems were comparable, concluding that solid-state systems could be potential environmentally responsible replacements for traditional vapor compression systems. “After four years of hard work, these results make all my efforts feel like they were worth it,” Qian says with a smile.

After his graduation in the fall, Qian hopes to find a job in China. He is most interested in working in a University with close collaboration with the HVAC and refrigeration industry. He would like to continue his work on non-vapor compression systems, making them cheaper, more efficient, and more compact. He hopes to promote the discontinuation of vapor compression systems, and that his vast knowledge and experience with the topic will allow him to make this goal a reality. “When I was a kid, all I wanted to do was work in a lab, says Qian. Building tangible, usable products has interested him for many years.

Finds teaching and research with real-world applications appealing

The idea of teaching is also appealing to Qian, who spent two semesters as a TA. Working with both graduate and undergraduate students, Qian feels prepared to assist students from different age groups, but he prefers to work with a smaller class size. “I can give individual attention to students, which promotes a fuller understanding of the material,” says Qian. Regardless of whether he works in industry or academia, Qian would like to communicate actively with members of the scientific community and conduct research with real-world applications.

Qian believes that working at CEEE has prepared him for the working world. “Working closing with students who are working on different projects, and who come from a variety of disciplines, has taught me teamwork and brainstorming,” Qian comments. The exposure to different disciplines has also expanded his knowledge on a variety of topics related to engineering and environmental awareness. “I also like the Friday lunches and camping trips. Those are just fun,” Qian laughs.

Looking forward to living in the same country as his wife

Qian feels that his time in the U.S. has been special. He has enjoyed the slower pace of Washington D.C., and was also able to see many states during various vacations. "My parents and I went saw much of the West Coast, and I did a tour of the East Coast to New York City, around Washington D.C. and spent a few days relaxing in Ocean City,” says Qian. Although his travels have been exciting, he looks forward to returning to Xi’an, China. His family and wife, Jingjing Jiang, are also excited about having him back home. “My wife and I met during our undergraduate years at Tsinghua University, but she stayed in Xi’an to work for an architecture design institute after earning her Master’s degree. We have not lived in the same country since,” Qian sighs. The two married in December, 2014 in Xi’an, China.

In his free time, Qian likes to keep active by playing squash, tennis, or swimming. “I used to play basketball in China, but not in the U.S. because everyone is better than me here,” he laughs. Qian likes to spend a lot of time outdoors, taking hikes and visiting shooting ranges with friends, something he had not tried until coming to Maryland. On more relaxed days, he likes to play video games.