Ever since she was in eighth grade, Joline has been working on ways to make fluids flow more efficiently. Her fascination with fluid flow is shared with her father, Liang-Shih Fan, a leading expert on fluidization. Born in Taiwan, he came to the U.S. in the early 1970s and is a chemical engineering professor at Ohio State University.

fan project
In this project, I sought to develop a noninvasive method to control bubble motion and interfacial dynamics by using acoustic energy.
Joline's previous research involved injecting tiny bubbles to reduce drag between a liquid and the walls of a horizontal pipe. While this could dramatically alleviate the drag caused by turbulence and eddies that form next to a pipe's interior surface, she had trouble controlling the bubbles and sustaining the improved flow rate. Now, that's solved.

She found the key in acoustic energy and slightly bigger bubbles. The bubbles are now meso-size, with diameters of around 4 millimeters, versus the microbubbles (less than 2mm) she used before. Joline discovered that mesobubbles tend to congregate in swarms when there's a so-called acoustic standing wave — a peculiar stationary sliver of sound produced by the interaction of sounds bouncing off parallel surfaces. The standing wave is almost like a magnet for mesobubbles — but not for their micro cousins — and provides just the control mechanism Joline wanted.

The new technique is effective in vertical as well as horizontal pipes. So Joline hopes it will find wide application in heating and cooling systems, chemical refineries, and perhaps in fire hoses that can shoot water to higher floors in urban buildings. She already has one patent and two journal articles to her credit, and last November she presented her research at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers annual meeting.

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COMMENTS On The Issues

funding more r&d: R&D funding should come from those that benefit most from R&D — industries and businesses. Corporations that gain from federally sponsored R&D can help support research efforts by providing grants or paying additional taxes marked specifically for R&D use. With federal R&D funding essentially stagnant, it is clear that more support of R&D from the private sector will be necessary for this nation to continue to lead the world in technology.


Joline M. Fan

Upper Arlington High School
Upper Arlington, Ohio

Hobbies: Violin, fencing, ping-pong, debating, skiing

Ambition: Medicine, Chemistry, or chemical engineering