Research & Development

Researching and developing two-phase thermal control technologies was ACT’s primary focus at inception. As the company has successfully transitioned those early R&D efforts into commercial product offerings, the R&D group has maintained strength in two-phase thermal control while helping to expand the company into many other areas of thermal management. ACT’s R&D team currently has approximately 40 team members, including 17 PhD, 4 MS, 4 BS level engineers.  Biographies of our senior R&D staff can be found below.

Our R&D team prides itself in developing new thermal technologies and transitioning them to the market. As a result, ACT was awarded a Tibbetts Award in 2011. The Small Business Association (SBA) presents the Tibbetts awards nationally to small companies that have advanced technical innovation and economic growth through its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. Recently, ACT surpassed $100M in revenues resulting from technologies that were originated from SBIR seeded programs. For examples of our most recent emerging innovations, please browse our recent patents and technical papers.

$100 Million Dollar Commercialization Milestone



Rich Bonner: VP, R&D: Dr. Bonner has led many cross-disciplinary advanced research and product development programs during his > 15-year tenure at ACT.  R&D topics of interest include dropwise condensation, thermal storage, and two-phase cooling.  Dr. Bonner has previously led product groups as well, serving over 125 different customers in a wide range of industries.  Dr. Bonner also served as a Director for the AIChE’s Transport and Energy Processes (TEP) Division. Education: BS, MS, and Ph.D. from Lehigh University in Chemical Engineering.

Bill Anderson: Chief Engineer, R&D: Bill received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT in the early 80’s and has a track record of designing and developing unique heat transfer devices to solve difficult thermal problems for both ground-based and space applications. Devices range in temperature from cryogenic (20 K Hydrogen LHPs) to temperatures in excess of 2000°C (Lithium Magnetoplasmadynamic Thrusters), with heat fluxes of up to 6,800 W/cm2. Bill currently serves as the Chief Engineer for ACT’s R&D program.

Srujan Rokkam: R&D Manager: Srujan has his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, with a concentration in Materials, Mechanics, Computational Science, from Florida State University. Srujan has worked in the R&D group at ACT since 2012 where he is an R&D Manager and gets excited about complicated modeling, like that found in a recent program investigating Peridynamics Modeling of Corrosion Damage.

Calin Taru, Principal Engineer, R&D: Calin has his Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of New York University. Since 2006 most of Calin’s work has been dedicated to the advancement of spacecraft and planetary thermal control applications. His most notable accomplishment is his work on the NASA Europa ice melting project. He is the leading engineer on much of ACT’s work with NASA and has collaborated on 3 patents with many still pending.

Chien-Hua Chen: R&D Manager: Chien-Hua is an R&D Manager at ACT where he has worked since 2011. Chien-Hua has his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Southern California. While he has worked on a variety of projects for ACT, he has a particular interest in applying advanced combustion, plasma, and high-temperature heat exchanger to develop new products or substitute existing techniques for more efficient and cost-effective ways.

Michael Ellis: Senior Engineer, R&D: Mike has a M.S. in Nuclear Engineering from Texas A&M University and while he has worked on a staggering number of programs since he began work at ACT in 2008, his favorite programs involve two-phase thermal management for spacecraft.

Nathan Van Velson: Lead R&D Engineer: Nathan recently completed his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Iowa State University in the summer of 2021. However, he has worked as an R&D Engineer for ACT since 2013, leading a number of programs relating to thermal management, renewable energy, and materials characterization. In addition, he is heavily involved in the company’s CSR committee. Outside of work he enjoys reading, hiking, and exploring new places.

Kuan-Lin Lee: Lead R&D Engineer: Kuan-Lin has his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University. Since joining ACT in 2016,  Dr. Lee has worked on a variety of projects to develop multiple two-phase cooling solutions for space vehicles, including an Advanced  Thermal Management System for Lunar ISRU applications, Warm Reservoir Variable Conductance Heat Pipe for Planetary Landers. He also involved in the development of Advanced Textile Material to improve moisture management for military personnel. Kuan-Lin also leads the pulsating heat pipe IR&D in ACT. Kuan-Lin enjoys reading and traveling with his family during his free time.

Devon Jensen: Lead R&D Engineer: Devon has been with ACT since 2019 working on projects utilizing non-thermal plasmas. Non-thermal plasmas are highly reactive environments without large amounts of thermal energy. Due to this low-temperature characteristic, non-thermal plasmas open the way for many novel material processes in the fields of synthesis, manufacturing, and recycling. Education: Devon has an M.S. and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering and a B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Utah.

Josh Charles, Lead R&D Engineer: Josh has been at ACT since 2019. He has his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Lehigh University. Notable projects include the development of a two-phase quality sensor, liquid-cooled diesel engine pistons, phase change material-assisted anaerobic digestion, and advanced loop thermosyphon work for solar desalination.

Advanced Heat Pipes and Loop Heat Pipes

Advanced Heat Pipes and Loop Heat Pipes including new working fluids, passive thermal control with variable conditions, and freeze/thaw tolerance

Advanced Coatings

Advanced Coatings for corrosion/erosion resistance, boiling enhancement, wettability control to enhance condensation, and Plasma-Enhanced CVD coatings for nanoparticles

Advanced Computational Methods and Modeling

Advanced Modeling, including ablation materials (atomic), Boltzmann transport models for semiconductors (gate level), and damage and corrosion fatigue models (macro-scale)

Advanced Heat Exchanger Technology

Advanced Heat Exchangers for applications including pulsed operation, passive thermal control of outlet streams, and direct contact for high efficiency

Combustion and Synfuels

Combustion and Synfuels, including fuel reforming for fuel cells, nano-catalysts for low temperature methanol combustion, solar power for synfuels and coal gasification

Pumped Single and Two-Phase Cooling

Pumped Single and Pumped Two Phase (P2P) Cooling have the ability to cool high powers and heat fluxes

Thermal Storage Innovations

Thermal Storage is used to smooth out thermal energy during pulsed operation and for short term storage when cooling is interrupted or unavailable


All of ACT's patents can be found here

Technical Papers

Read more about ACT’s government-sponsored R&D programs


Read the latest articles published by members of ACT

Have a Question or Project to Discuss?