Zhang, Zhilu M.S. 2014

Research Topic: 

Analysis of Heat Pump Clothes Dryer


Story by Francesca Pascual

Zhilu Zhang is looking forward to returning home after earning her Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. She spent the past two years in the CEEE working on her thesis, Analysis of Heat Pump Clothes Dryer. To try and reduce the environmental impact of a household chore, she built a clothes dryer that uses a heat pump to significantly reduce the amount of energy used during the drying process. Zhang hopes that this design will be brought into commercial use within the United States because conventional clothes dryers dominate the market, with few energy-efficient options. She sees a great potential for success and a large demand for environmentally-friendly household appliances, as she explains in a video about the UMD Dryer project for the DOE MaxTech and Beyond Competition.

She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering in the East China University of Science and Technology.

Helping the Earth with energy-saving technology

Upon returning home to Shanghai, China, Zhang hopes to work in industry in either project management or engineering management positions. She is most interested in working with energy-saving technology. “It is important to care about the Earth and environment. I want to create environmentally-friendly technology.” She has not settled on a job yet, but looks forward to starting her career when she returns to China.  Zhang believes that her time at the CEEE helped her grow in this field by developing her lab skills, experience in engineering, and her relationships with members of the industry. “The consortium meetings give you the opportunity to meet people who work in the industry. You also practice giving talks and discussing research.” She remarks that this is not something you find in all programs.

Enjoy's diversity and the arts

Though she misses her home and her family, Zhang’s time in the United States has been exciting and enriching. She says that it differs from China in the culture and the amount of people. “Shanghai is much more crowded than D.C., but it does not have as wide a range of people.” Zhang has enjoyed living in a diverse area wMiss Zhang dancing ballethere she is exposed to people from many different demographics and backgrounds. Zhang has also enjoyed spending her free time in D.C. visiting the museums and local sites. “My favorite museum is the Air and Space Museum. Since all of the museums are free, they are very accessible.” She also loves to visit the Lincoln Center to watch shows, plays, and musicals.

Zhang has a lot of interest in both the sciences and the arts. When she cannot attend events at the Lincoln Theater, she still has plenty of other creative outlets to rely on. She is a member of the classical dance ensemble at the University of Maryland, and specializes in ballet. She also likes playing piano in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center during her free time, and has taken piano lessons since she was in kindergarten. She also pursing her interests in fashion. “When I was little, I made clothes for my Barbies, but I don’t have much time for making clothes anymore,” she laughs, “but I still have fun putting outfits together for myself.”