Robert Whittlesey
Robert W. Whittlesey, Ph.D., P.E., CFEI
Senior Engineer
Thermal Sciences
Los Angeles

Dr. Whittlesey’s areas of expertise include fluid mechanics, heat transfer, thermodynamics, propulsion, and renewable energies such as wind energy. He has experience in conducting design review and siting for wind turbines, in addition to being a co-inventor on a patent in the area of wind energy. Furthermore, Dr. Whittlesey is an active member of two Underwriter Laboratories Standard Technical Panels covering large wind turbine generating systems (UL 6141) and small wind turbine generating systems (UL 6142).

Dr. Whittlesey is also an alternate member to the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Technical Committee of Industrial and Medical Gases. This committee is responsible for NFPA 51: Standard for the Design and Installation of Oxygen-Fuel Gas systems for Welding, Cutting, and Allied Processes, NFPA 55: Compressed Gases and Cryogenic Fluids Code, and NFPA 560: Standard for the Storage, Handling, and Use of Ethylene Oxide for Sterilization and Fumigation.

Dr. Whittlesey is experienced in using a combination of theory, experiments, and field measurements in order to analyze and predict fluid flows. As part of his graduate work, Dr. Whittlesey was a Research Assistant in the Graduate Aeronautical Laboratories at the California Institute of Technology. He worked on improving the efficiency of underwater vehicles, such as submarines, by manipulation of the vehicle wake. Previously, he also experimentally studied rotating stall in axial turbines, such as those used in the jet engines of aircraft and power cogeneration facilities.

CREDENTIALS & PROFESSIONAL HONORS

  • Ph.D., Aeronautics, California Institute of Technology (Caltech), 2013
  • M.S., Aeronautics, California Institute of Technology (Caltech), 2009
  • B.S., Aerospace Engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), 2008, summa cum laude
  • B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), 2008, summa cum laude
  • Donald Coles Prize–Best Design of an Experiment, California Institute of Technology, 2013

LICENSES & CERTIFICATIONS

Licensed Professional Mechanical Engineer, California, #M37348

Certified Fire and Explosion Investigator in accordance with the National Association of Fire Investigators

Fire Origin and Cause Determination (1A), California State Fire Marshal Course

Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Certification (29 CFR 1910.120)

SCUBA Open Water Certified, NAUI, February 2010

Certified Forklift Operator

Publications

Whittlesey RW. Vertical axis wind turbines: farm and turbine design. In: Wind Energy Engineering: A Handbook for Onshore and Offshore Wind Turbines, Academic Press, 2017.

Whittlesey RW, Dabiri JO. Optimal vortex formation in a self-propelled vehicle. Journal of Fluid Mechanics 2013; 737:78-104.

Whittlesey RW. Wake-based unsteady modeling of the aquatic beetle Dytiscus marginalis. Journal of Theoretical Biology 2011; 291:14-21.

Ruiz LA, Whittlesey RW, Dabiri JO. Vortex-enhanced propulsion. Journal of Fluid Mechanics 2011; 668:5-32.

Whittlesey RW, Liska S, Dabiri JO. Fish schooling as the basis for vertical axis wind turbine farm design. Bioinspiration and Biomechanics 2010; 5:035005.

Invited Presentations

Whittlesey RW. Optimal propulsive efficiency of vortex enhanced propulsion. Mechanical Engineering Graduate Seminar, Baylor University, November 4, 2013.

Whittlesey RW, Liska S, Dabiri JO. Innovative concepts: Fish schooling as a basis for vertical axis wind turbine farm design. New Energy Husum's 1st World Summit on Small Wind Turbines, Husum, Germany, March 2010.

Presentations


Whittlesey RW, Morse TL, Morrison AM. Energetic analysis of the relevance of WAF preparations to field mixing conditions. International Oil Spill Conference, Long Beach, CA, May 2017.

Kane Driscoll SB, Whittlesey RW, Hauri J, Kulacki K, Schierz P, Morse TL, Morrison AM, Yozzo K, McArdle M, Edgington A, Edwards M, Aldea M. The Influence of mixing energy on the concentration and composition of oil in laboratory toxicity tests. Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 7th World Congress, Orlando, FL, November 2016.

Whittlesey RW, Morse TL. Wind turbine fires: cause and prevention. AWEA Windpower Conference, New Orleans, LA, May 2016.

Kane Driscoll SB, Whittlesey RW, Hauri J, Kulacki K, Schierz P, Morse TL, Morrison AM, Yozzo K, McArdle M, Edgington A, Edwards M, Aldea M. The Influence of mixing energy on the concentration, composition, toxicity, and relevance of laboratory toxicity tests. Gulf of Mexico Research Institute Conference (GOMRI), Tampa, FL, February 2016.

Whittlesey RW, Morse TL. Designing effective firebreaks for wind turbines by modeling fire debris transport. AWEA Windpower Conference, Orlando, FL, May 2015.

Whittlesey RW, Dabiri JO. Optimal propulsive efficiency of vortex enhanced propulsion. 66th Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics, Pittsburgh, PA, November 24, 2013.

Whittlesey RW, Dabiri JO. Frequency spectrum and scale dependence of a propulsive self-excited vortex generator. 65th Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics, San Diego, CA, November 18, 2012.

Whittlesey RW, Dabiri JO. Total energetic efficiency of a propulsive self-excited vortex generator. Fluid & Elasticity 2012, November 14, 2012.

Whittlesey RW, Dabiri JO. Toward enhanced propulsive efficiency using a passive vortex generator. 29th Symposium on Naval Hydrodynamics, Gothenburg, Sweden, August 2012.

Whittlesey RW, Dabiri, JO. Improving propulsive efficiency through passive mechanisms using a Starling vortex generator. 64th Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics, Baltimore, MD, November 22, 2011.

Whittlesey RW, Dabiri JO. Passively pulsed propulsion of aquatic vehicles. 63rd Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics, Long Beach, CA, November 23, 2010.

Whittlesey RW, Liska S, Dabiri JO. Fish schooling as a basis for vertical axis wind turbine farm design. 4th Southern California Symposium on Flow Physics, UC: Irvine, Irvine, CA, April 2010.

Whittlesey RW, Dabiri JO. Fish schooling as the basis for wind farm design. 62nd Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics, Minneapolis, MN, November 2009.

Thiam A, Whittlesey RW, Wark CE, Williams DR. Corner separation and the onset of stall in an axial compressor. AIAA 38th Fluid Dynamics Conference, Seattle, WA, June 2008.

Patents

US Patent 8,545,168: A Two-Dimensional Array of Turbines, 2013 (Dabiri JO, Whittlesey RW).

Professional Affiliations

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Member of Underwriters Laboratories Standards Technical Panel (STP) for UL 6141, Wind Turbine Generating Systems – Large

Member of Underwriters Laboratories Standards Technical Panel (STP) for UL 6142, Wind Turbine Generating Systems – Small

Alternate Member of National Fire Protection Association’s Technical Committee on Industrial and Medical Gases

National Association of Fire Investigators

Project Experience

San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station – Dr. Whittlesey was a part of multi-disciplinary team devoted to understanding and fully recreating the design process for replacement steam generators that failed at San Onofre’s Nuclear Generating Station after only 11 months of operation out of a 40-year lifespan. Dr. Whittlesey’s work involved substantial analysis of two-phase flows and flow-induced vibrations.

Investigated an incident where a crude oil pipe was directly connected to the potable water system in a major city. This resulted in hundreds of gallons of crude oil having entered into the city water supply. Investigation included analysis of back-flow device provided by city and inspection of protocols used by oil company’s contractors.

BP Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill – Assisted eco-sciences and environmental science experts analyze an array of data from various scientists. Also conducted experiments to assess the relevance of a toxicological laboratory preparation by measuring the mixing energy (turbulence dissipation rate) and compared to in situ measurements. Found one laboratory preparation to have over 60,000 times the mixing energy of breaking waves in the ocean.

Manufacturer of wind turbine components was interested in developing a new energy storage technology. Our assessment of the suitability of the energy storage technology included thermodynamic modeling of the proposed energy storage scheme as well as a cost analysis to determine the gross revenue derived from storing energy and market-timing sale of energy versus sale of energy without storage.

Designated expert in a patent case regarding infringement on wind turbine design. Required an understanding of the aerodynamics of turbine rotor blades and articulating certain aerodynamic features to the court in a written declaration.

Investigated a loss of containment incident from a production platform where crude oil was determined to have leaked out of a tanker filling system with considerable delay from loading and thus evaded the company’s engineers’ ability to immediately halt the loss.

High-end apartment buildings were determined to have optical distortions in their windows’ reflections. Investigation included assessment of causes of optical distortions by destructive examination. Dr. Whittlesey also designed and built a custom tool to measure optical distortion in windows before installation.

Theme park client had issues with motor drives in waterproof enclosures exploding. Investigation included on-site inspection, destructive examination of evidence, substantial chemical sampling, experimental testing, report writing, and presentation to client. The evaluation determined the likely fuel and ignition source for the explosions as well as assistance in improving processes to ensure worker safety. 

Consumer electronics manufacturer received claims of mechanical deficiency from distributor. Investigated fastener torques on manufactured products and developed torque audit procedure to evaluate level of deficiency in various shipments.

Knowledge

News & Events

CREDENTIALS & PROFESSIONAL HONORS

  • Ph.D., Aeronautics, California Institute of Technology (Caltech), 2013
  • M.S., Aeronautics, California Institute of Technology (Caltech), 2009
  • B.S., Aerospace Engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), 2008, summa cum laude
  • B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), 2008, summa cum laude
  • Donald Coles Prize–Best Design of an Experiment, California Institute of Technology, 2013

LICENSES & CERTIFICATIONS

Licensed Professional Mechanical Engineer, California, #M37348

Certified Fire and Explosion Investigator in accordance with the National Association of Fire Investigators

Fire Origin and Cause Determination (1A), California State Fire Marshal Course

Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Certification (29 CFR 1910.120)

SCUBA Open Water Certified, NAUI, February 2010

Certified Forklift Operator