Ernesto Pedrocchi

Professor emeritus of Politecnico di Milano


"Ernesto Pedrocchi was born in Bergamo in 1936. In 1961 he graduated with distinction in Mechanical Engineering, specialising in nuclear power, from Politecnico di Milano. Immediately after graduation he began work at CISE, a pioneering nuclear energy research centre, where he carried out experimental research and participated in the thermo-hydraulic project of the Cirene reactor. His university career began in 1969, when he gained a free professorship in Technical Physics, held entirely at Politecnico di Milano. Since 1975 he has been Full Professor of Technical Physics and in 1995 he was promoted to the chair in Energetics.

His scientific activity has developed on a variety of topics that have reflected the evolution of his studies and interests over the course of his 50-year career. He initially mainly researched two-phase thermo-fluid dynamics of nuclear reactors, then moved to applied thermodynamics and innovative energy systems, and finally general energy problems and the link between energy needs and environmental impact.

The most significant examples of his work are:

  • experimental studies on the fluid dynamics of adiabatic two-phase-two-component annular flows: determination of film thickness, vacuum degree and pressure drops; development of an isokinetic probe for measuring speed distribution;
  • experimental studies on heat exchange in two-phase annular flows and mist flows;
  • development of a correlation for determining of pressure drops for two-phase flows;
  • participation in developing a new concept of a nuclear reactor moderated by heavy water and cooled by boiling water in dispersed annular/mist flow, as well as participation in the related thermal hydraulic design;
  • studies on the increase of heat exchange with high temperature gas flows through the use of mini/micro fins;
  • thermal physics studies of buildings: thermal insulation, use of helium-assisted heat pumps and/or with underground thermal storage;
  • studies on the use of the exergy quantity in the thermodynamic analysis of processes and systems.
  • reflections on energy needs, on the role and future of  nuclear energy, on the potential of alternative energy sources and on environmental impact.

This research and study has produced more than 140 technical-scientific publications, university textbooks on applied thermodynamics and on heat and energy transmission and educational articles.

Since 1976, Ernesto Pedrocchi has seamlessly held many roles of responsibility at Politecnico di Milano:

  • he was director of the Institute of Technical Physics from 1976 to 1982;
  • he was member of the Board of Governors from 1983 to 1987;
  • he was director of the Energy Department from 1987 to 1993;
  • in 1996, he launched the study programme in Energy Engineering and for the following nine years, until 2004, he was president of the Study Programme Board.

Furthermore, for 15 years, from 1975 to 1990, he was a member of the National Council of Professors of the Technical Physics group, mainly addressing the promotion of studies in the energy sector.

Ernesto Pedrocchi has also held key roles in countless external bodies and organisations.  He has been a scientific consultant in technical commissions for the energy sector for the CNR, the Province of Milan, Regione Lombardia and the Ministry of Universities and Research.  He is employed as an expert evaluator by both the MIUR and Cassa Conguaglio Settore Elettrico for projects funded by the Italian System Research. Additionally:

  • in the 1980s he was a member of the Central Solar Heating Plants with Seasonal Storage commission of TASK VII of the IEA
  • from 1998 to 2004 he was a member of the Board of Directors of EMIT
  • in 2005 he was a member of the Board of Directors of ENEA
  • since 2009 he has been a member of the commission of experts in nuclear safety and radiation protection of the Ministry of' Environment and Territory

Today, Ernesto Pedrocchi is considered one of the most authoritative experts in the field of energy and his experimental/modelling studies on two-phase fluid dynamics, in particular on the determination of pressure drops, constitute an undoubted point of reference in this field."

[extract from the 2010 nomination statement]