Zach Owens
Zachary C. Owens, Ph.D., P.E.
Senior Managing Engineer
Thermal Sciences
  • Natick

Dr. Owens specializes in performing failure analysis and providing design support for complex problems involving fluid flow, heat transfer, mass transport, combustion, and thermodynamics. Applications have spanned many industries including oil and gas, aerospace, electronic devices, batteries, medical devices, consumer appliances, power plant equipment, and wildland fires. Dr. Owens’ work often arises in the context of an industrial accident, but he also works proactively with industry to prevent these types of incidents from occurring and to facilitate regulatory compliance.

Dr. Owens has considerable experience working on blowouts in both offshore and onshore wells. As a part of the investigation team for some of the biggest incidents in recent history, Dr. Owens has assessed well conditions leading up to blowout, the performance of various well control technologies, the leak rate of oil and gas, and the viability of various well kill methodologies. Experience gained from these investigations has also been applied to providing design support for the development of new well control technologies. In the context of this technology development work Dr. Owens has performed analyses relating to the erosion of well control equipment and the shearability of pipe inside a blowout preventer (BOP). Dr. Owens has also worked on a variety of flow assurance and well integrity issues including the mitigation of annular pressure buildup, water-hammer, wax deposition, and high temperature exposure of well equipment during production.

Dr. Owens has also worked extensively on thermal management solutions for electronic devices and battery systems. This work has involved optimizing component and printed circuit board (PCB) placement, heat sink design, thermal interface materials, fin assemblies, and coatings to minimize solar loads. This work has also involved performing thermal analysis of lithium-ion battery packs and identifying solutions that prevent these devices from going into thermal runaway and minimizing failure propagation.

Dr. Owens has also consulted on issues relating to medical device performance. This has included developing a model to predict drug elution from cardiovascular stents, assessing the pull-out forces from blood flow acting on an endograft, assessing the sterilization of surgical instruments, and assessing the potential for burn injury from various consumer products.

Dr. Owens has extensive expertise in developing and using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software and other analytical methods to solve a wide range of industrial problems. His past experience includes triangulating the source of a satellite failure from microphone data, modeling the impact of degraded thermal insulation on an underground piping system, modeling resistive heating and subsequent failure of poor electrical connections, modeling dispersion and combustion of flammable gases, and performing fluid-structure interaction (FSI) simulations for the oil and gas industry.

Prior to joining Exponent Dr. Owens was a Research Assistant in the High Temperature Gas Dynamics Laboratory at Stanford University. Here he performed both numerical and experimental analysis of high-speed, chemically reacting flows, with particular emphasis on shock and detonation wave phenomenon. This research was in support of an advanced rocket propulsion system called a pulsed detonation engine. Dr. Owens has also held research positions at the University of Virginia Aerospace Research Laboratory, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, and NASA Glenn Research Center.

CREDENTIALS & PROFESSIONAL HONORS

  • Ph.D., Aeronautics and Astronautics, Stanford University, 2008
  • M.S., Aeronautics and Astronautics, Stanford University, 2004
  • B.S., Aerospace Engineering, University of Virginia, 2002
  • Sigma Gamma Tau Outstanding Aerospace Engineering Graduate, 2002

    Louis T. Rader Chairperson’s Award, 2001, 2002

    Virginia Space Grant Consortium Scholarship, 2000 

LICENSES & CERTIFICATIONS

Licensed Professional Mechanical Engineer, California, #36339

Fire Investigation 1A Certification accredited by the California State Fire Marshal

National Waste Operations and Emergency Response Training, 29 CFR 1910.120

Publications

Owens ZC, Hanson RK. The influence of wall heat transfer, friction, and condensation on detonation tube performance. Combustion Science and Technology 2010; 182(8).

Owens ZC. Flowfield characterization and model development in detonation tubes. Ph.D. Thesis, Stanford University, February 2008.

Li H., Owens ZC, Davidson DF, Hanson RK. A simple reactive gas dynamic model for the computation of gas temperature and species concentrations behind reflected shock waves. International Journal of Chemical Kinetics 2008; 40(4).

Owens ZC, Hanson RK. Single-cycle unsteady nozzle phenomena in pulse detonation engines. Journal of Propulsion and Power 2007; 23(2).

Owens ZC, Mattison DW, Barbour EA, Morris CI, Hanson RK. PDE flowfield characterization and simulation validation using cesium-based velocimetry. Proceedings, Combustion Institute 2005; 30:2791–2798.

Selected Conference Proceedings & Presentations

Simeoni A, Owens Z, Christiansen E, Kemal A. A study of wildland fire direction indicator reliability following two experimental fires, International Symposium on Fire Investigation Science & Technology, Scottsdale, AZ, September, 2016.

Owens Z, Gilman L, Rosen J, Kemal A. Investigation of variables affecting electrical arcing with applications in wildland fire investigations, 2015 Wildland Fire Litigation Conference, Monterey, CA, May 2015.

Owens Z, Hanson R. Preliminary investigation into the influence of transverse waves in PDE simulations. 21st International Colloquium on the Dynamics of Explosions and Reactive Systems (ICDERS), Poitiers, France, 2007.

Owens Z, Hanson R. Unsteady nozzle design for pulse detonation engines. Oral presentation, 41st AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit, Tucson, AZ, July 2005.

Barbour E, Mattison D, Owens Z, Hanson R, Morris C. A pulsed detonation tube with a converging-diverging nozzle. 43rd AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, Reno, NV, January 2005.

Barbour E, Owens Z, Morris C, Hanson R. The impact of a converging-diverging nozzle on PDE performance and its associated flowfield. 42nd AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, Reno, NV, January 2004.

Mattison D, Barbour E. Oehlschlaeger M, Owens Z, Hanson R. UV optical diagnostics for PDE applications. 39th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference, Huntsville, AL, July 2003.

Owens Z, Goyne C, Krauss R, McDaniel J. Assessment of particle seeder performance via direct flowfield sampling. Oral Presentation, 41st AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, Reno, NV, January 2003.

Professional Affiliations

The Combustion Institute

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Society of Petroleum Engineers

Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society

Knowledge

CREDENTIALS & PROFESSIONAL HONORS

  • Ph.D., Aeronautics and Astronautics, Stanford University, 2008
  • M.S., Aeronautics and Astronautics, Stanford University, 2004
  • B.S., Aerospace Engineering, University of Virginia, 2002
  • Sigma Gamma Tau Outstanding Aerospace Engineering Graduate, 2002

    Louis T. Rader Chairperson’s Award, 2001, 2002

    Virginia Space Grant Consortium Scholarship, 2000 

LICENSES & CERTIFICATIONS

Licensed Professional Mechanical Engineer, California, #36339

Fire Investigation 1A Certification accredited by the California State Fire Marshal

National Waste Operations and Emergency Response Training, 29 CFR 1910.120