NM Tech Professor Ghosh Awarded Patent

by Tiffany Chisum

SOCORRO, N.M., Aug. 17, 2007 – New Mexico Tech Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Ashok Kumar Ghosh has been awarded a patent from India for his invention of “Layered Insulating Building Blocks (LIBB).”

Ghosh, who also is an adjunct faculty member with Tech’s Department of Civil Engineering, is the sole inventor of the insulating building blocks.

LIBBs utilize a type of heat storage known as “sensitive heat storage.” The primary advantages of using this particular thermal storage method are availability and low cost.

LIBBs consist of three layers, with the middle layer being engineered based on the block’s intended end applications.

The outside layer of the LIBB is engineered and designed to absorb the maximum possible heat from the sun’s solar radiation during the day. The solar radiation is then absorbed into the middle layer, where it is stored as sensitive heat. The stored heat can then be transferred by conduction through the wall and by radiation and convection through space — basically, the heat is then released slowly through the other side of the brick as the outside temperature starts to drop.

Ghosh explains, “The block acts like a passive thermal storage, which, when used in walls, can create a smoother internal environment with fewer fluctuations.

“Another way of explaining it,” he says, “is like a voltage stabilizer that one uses for safeguarding their computer from voltage spikes/surges.”

LIBBs are another step toward reducing energy consumption and cost for space heating and cooling, the New Mexico Tech researcher says.

Ghosh adds, “Homes built with LIBBs can prove to be very efficient in terms of keeping the inside temperature relatively lower than the outside during a sunny summer day and can keep heat longer while the temperature outside drops, which, of course, would be the case during summers in the desert of New Mexico.”

The LIBB patent has been awarded to Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Kharagpur, where Ghosh was a faculty member for more than 10 years prior to teaching at the University of New Mexico, and, then coming to New Mexico Tech. Ghosh explains that IIT is an institute of international repute — “similar,” he says, “to MIT.” While the patent holder is IIT, Ghosh is the sole inventor listed on the patent.

Patent laws prevent Ghosh and IIT from filing for LIBB patents anywhere else — the one–year time frame has long since passed. However, Ghosh says that he will shortly be filing for a U.S. patent for another of his inventions which he chooses not to divulge at this time.

Ghosh’s most recent research work is in ‘biomechanics,” or the mechanics of natural structures. He also is in the process of improving LIBBs and developing an applicable product for New Mexico.

Ghosh relates, “Let us all look to Nature to try to understand how it can serve as a guide to determine the appropriateness of our innovations in terms of durability, performance, and compatibility.”