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James (Jim) S. Cotton

Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, McMaster University

Dr. James Cotton is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at McMaster University and the Co-Director of the McMaster Institute for Energy Studies (MIES). He obtained his PhD in Mechanical engineering from McMaster University in 2000. From 2000-2007 he worked at Dana Corporation, Thermal Products, Ontario. During his tenure in the automotive industry his focus was on automotive power plant and fuel cell thermal management and emission system modeling, design and control. He was the supervisor of the Heat Transfer Research team providing research and development leadership by determining vision, strategy and goals for automotive energy systems and heat transfer related activities for the Division.

Upon joining McMaster he has focused his research leadership towards thermal management, system modeling, energy harvesting in the emerging fields of thermal energy recovery, storage and electrohydrodynamics. His research focuses on developing, modeling and experimentally validating energy systems and technologies to advance safe and efficient thermal management solutions, integrated community energy systems, energy harvesting technologies and automotive thermal management technologies.

Dr. Cotton’s research and industry experience involves nearly all aspects of the energy network, ranging from improving hybrid and electric vehicle performance, integrated community energy systems and waste heat recovery from commercial and industrial processes. Over the past six years Dr. Cotton has liaised with a wide variety of communities and industrial partners to establish community energy plans, to identify problems facing industry, develop technology road maps to address these challenges and lead comprehensive research programs to provide sustainable energy and transportation solutions.

This research includes a $2M cooperative project led by Dr Cotton that unites 20 Industry Partners who are working together to design, optimize and commercialize the Integrated Community Energy and Harvesting System (ICE-Harvest), a distributed energy resource management system. The research with these partners led Cotton to design and develop the $5.5M Research Facility for Integrated Building Energy Harvesting Systems (ReFIBES) and the formation of a 22 partner Energy Research Cooperative, with the aim of meeting their communities’ GHG reduction goals. The facility includes integrating bidirectional and unidirectional charging stations and a bidirectional vehicle, synergistically working with the distributed energy resources to provide resilient carbon-free heating, while being demand responsive to the electrical grid.

Dr Cotton has authored/co-authored over 110 peer reviewed journal and conference papers, has 4 granted patents and one pending. During the past six years he has trained over 75 graduate students and researchers. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Principal of a consulting company ThERM Solutions and founder and CEO of HARvEST Systems Inc., a spin-off company that commercialized novel energy harvesting systems for restaurants.


  • –present
    Professor, McMaster University


  • 2001 
    McMaster University, PhD Engineering / Mechanical Engineering