Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering



Phone: (216) 368-2941
Office Location: Glennan 449 B

Prahl began teaching at Case Western Reserve University in the Department of Fluid, Thermal and Aerospace Sciences in 1968 after teaching at Harvard Summer School during the summer 1968. With the exception of a leave of absence as a Visiting Lecturer and Research Fellow at Harvard in 1974 and a leave of absence as a Payload Specialist for NASA Marshall Space Flight Center from 1990 to 1992, he has remained at CASE, now in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, attaining the rank of Professor in 1985 and serving as chair of department from 1992 to 2007. He teaches in the areas of dynamics, fluid mechanics and thermodynamics at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and has been the thesis advisor to over 40 masters and doctoral students. His research concentrates primarily on experimental observations in fluid and thermal science. He has received support from the National Science Foundation and the Environmental Protection Agency for the flow of thermal plumes into rivers and lakes; from the Office of Naval Research for the stability of laminar boundary layers in water flowing over heated surfaces; from the National Science Foundation on buoyancy driven flows in ventilation controlled room fires; from the National Bureau of Standards Center for Fire Research for the modeling of flow from fire sprinklers; from the Consumer Products Safety Commission for the combustion of cellular plastics; from NASA Glenn Research Center for studies in tribology and oil-free turbomachinery, studies in the chemical kinetics of hydrogen-oxygen and propane-air systems, and studies of mechanical seals for turbomachinery and space craft docking systems. He has worked on unsupported research on the flow at branching points in the major arteries and on the fluid dynamics of sailing vessels. He has published over twenty refereed journal articles. Prahl co-directed the NASA ASEE Case Lewis (later Glenn) Summer Faculty Fellowship Program funded by NASA Division of Educational Affairs from 1970 - 2003. His research with NASA Lewis (now John H. Glenn) Research Center began in 1980 with support from the Turbomachinery Branch, later from the Aerothermochemistry Branch (chemical kinetics) and most recently from the Surface Science Branch (studies in tribology) and Mechanical Components Branch (seals). He contributed to the Surface Tension Driven Convection Experiment and the Thermocapillary Oscillatory Flow glovebox experiment being developed in the Space Experiments Division, Microgravity Materials and Fluids Experiments Branch at NASA Glenn Research Center. Prahl was a Backup Payload Specialist for the United States Microgravity Laboratory which flew on STS-50, Columbia, June 1992. He served as the space lab communication link from the Payload Operations Control Center at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, throughout the 13-day mission of 14 major experiments on crystal growth, fluid physics, combustion, astroculture, bioprocessing, space acceleration measurement and the effects of extended duration orbit on the human body, and several glovebox experiments in combustion, surface tension, droplet dynamics, and crystal growth. Prahl's background in surface tension driven flows and combustion are why he was selected as a payload specialist for the USML-1.


  • PhD Harvard University, 1968
  • S.M., Harvard University, 1968
  • B.A., Harvard College, 1963
Research Areas:
  • Fluid Film Lubrication, Tribology
  • Oil-Free Turbomachinery
  • Buoyancy Driven Flows
Teaching Interests:
  • Thermodynamics
  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Fluid and Thermal Design

      Ke, X, Alexander, J. Iwan, D., Prahl, J. M., Savinell, R. F., Flow Distribution and Maximum Current Density in Redox Flow Batteries with a Single Passage of the Serpentine Flow Channel, Journal of Power Sources, Vol. 270, 646-657, December 2014.
      Dykas, B., Bruckner, R., Dellacorte, C., Edmonds, B., Prahl, J., Design,Fabrication and Performance of Foil Gas Thrust Bearings for Microturbomachinery Applications, Journal of Engineering for Gas Turbines and Power, Vol. 131/012301-1, January 2009.
      Briggs, M., Prahl, J., Bruckner, R., Dykas, B., High Pressure Performance of Foil Journal Bearings in Various Gases, Proceedings of the STLE/ASME International Joint Tribology Conference IJTC2008-71274, October 20-22, 2008, Miami, Florida
      Dykas, B., Bruckner, R, and Prahl, J., Preliminary Experimental Characterization of the Gas Film in Foil Thrust Bearings. Proceedings of IJTC 2006: International Joint Tribology Conference, IJTC2006-12341, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, October 22-25, 2006, San Antonio, Texas.
      Dykas, B., DellaCorte, C., Prahl, J., and Bruckner, R.,Thermal Management Phenomena in Foil Gas Thrust Bearings. Proceedings of Turbo Expo 2006: Power for Land, Sea, and Air, GT2006-91268, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, May 8-11, 2006, Barcelona, Spain.
      Howard, S.A., DellaCorte, C., Valco, M.J., Prahl, J.M., Heshmat, H., Dynamic Stiffness and Damping Characteristics of a High-Temperature Air Foil Journal Bearing, Tribology Trans.,Vol. 44, 4, October 2001.

Honors & Awards:
  • Licensed Professional Engineer, Ohio
  • Licensed United States Merchant Marine Officer, Master of Steam, Motor or Auxiliary Sail Vessels of not more than 100 gross registered tons upon the Great Lakes and Inland Waters
  • The Carl F. Wittke Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, Case Western Reserve University, 1972