Category Archives: Research

Chemical Engineering News Briefs


David Shonnard (ECM/SFI) gave an invited talk, “Biofuel Sustainability: Challenges and Opportunities” at Wayne State University for the Sustainability@Wayne seminar series on Oct. 20.

CBS Sunday Morning featured a story about David Edwards, a 1983 Michigan Tech alumnus and winner of Tech’s Melvin Calvin Medal, who designed and markets the o-phone, a phone that transmits aromas. Edwards is a biomedical engineering professor at Harvard University. Watch the story.

Faith Morrison (ChE), has been elected to the status of Fellow of the Society of Rheology. She’ll receive her certificates during the SOR 87th Annual Meeting in Baltimore in October. In his letter to Morrison, SOR President Gregory B. McKenna said the awardees recognized at the Baltimore meeting are the “inaugural” class of fellows.

Associate Dean for Research and Innovation, Adrienne Minerick (ChE), has received a $50,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for a research project titled, EAGER: Therapeutic Protein Separations via Surface Isoelectric Focusing (SIEF).

Technology Century, a science and technology news website run by the Engineering Society of Detroit, published an article about the NSF-funded meeting of multidisciplinary bioenergy researchers from Canada, the US, Central and South America that was held at Michigan Tech last week. Read the article.

In an article about graphene, The Economist mentioned Michigan Tech’s research into graphene-based 3-D bioprinting to regenerate nerve cells in patients with spinal cord injuries.

Technology Century, a science and technology news website published by the Engineering Society of Detroit, reported on a visit by ESD executives to Michigan Tech and plans to establish a student chapter of the ESD at Michigan Tech.

Tech Century, a science and technology news service published by the Engineering Society of Detroit, ran a comprehensive report and photo gallery on their tour of Michigan Tech engineering labs last week.

ScienceAroundMichigan, a science news website focusing on Michigan research, published an article on the international bioenergy conference held at Michigan Tech earlier this month.

Caryn Heldt (ChE) is the principal on a three-year research and development project that received a $349,250 grant from the National Science Foundation. The project is titled, GOALI: Graphene Paper Sensor for Disease Detection.
Also involved in the project are Adrienne Minerick (ChE), Julia King (ChE) and Warren Perger (ECE).

TV 6 and Fox UP, reported on Professor Adrienne Minerick’s (ChemEng) appointment as associate dean for research and innovation in Tech’s College of Engineering. You can view the story online.

Assistant Professor Caryn Heldt (ChE) has been awarded an Air Force Summer Faculty Fellowship to conduct research at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio on graphene biosensors.

Adrienne Minerick has been invited to serve on the Chemical Engineering Education (CEE) Journal Publications Board. Her three-year appointment will begin Fall 2015. CEE is the premier archival journal for chemical engineering educators.

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Pan American Researchers Gather in Houghton

by David Shonnard

About 40 biofuel and bioenergy researchers from many countries in the Pan American region (from Argentina to Canada) will attend a workshop hosted by the Sustainable Futures Institute at Michigan Tech tomorrow through Friday.

The goals of the workshop are to develop a research roadmap report (RRR) with diverse international perspectives and to recommend priority areas for future research. The RRR will be disseminated to funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy and other federal research sponsors in the United States and their equivalents in other Pan American countries, as well as to industry and the general public.

This is the final workshop in the NSF-funded project “RCN-SEES: A Research Coordination Network on Pan American Biofuel and Bioenergy Sustainability”. The project is directed by David Shonnard (ChE) and with co-investigators Barry Solomon (SS), Kathy Halvorsen (SS), Sam Sweitz (SS) and Robert Handler (SF I).

Pan American Researchers Gather in Houghton
Pan American Researchers Gather in Houghton
Pan American Researchers Gather in Houghton
RCN Workshop on Pan American Biofuels & Bioenergy Sustainability Michigan Technological University

Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE)

Project efforts focus on woody bioenergy for heat and power, switchgrass used for cellulosic ethanol, and palm and jatropha oil for biodiesel in six case studies across Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Uruguay, Argentina, and the United States (US). This allows us to examine diverse socio-ecological systems in countries experiencing rapid bioenergy development. These systems’ complexity enables the development of new approaches to studying and assessing sustainability as it relates to dynamic systems in general, while focusing on bioenergy in particular.

Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE)
Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE)
PIRE Student Group
PIRE Student Group

More articles:

Bioenergy Across the Americas

ECNmag, an online energy magazine, reported on an international conference hosted by Michigan Tech, where 80 researchers from six countries including the US, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Uruguay met to discuss bioenergy.

Biotechnology Research Center Research Forum Awards

Maria Gencoglu
Maria Gencoglu
The Eleventh Annual Research Forum sponsored by the Biotechnology Research Center was held on Wednesday, Oct. 22, and Thursday, Oct. 23. Forty-one graduate and undergraduate students conducting research in life science, biotechnology, human health and related areas presented posters. Oral presentations were also given. Speakers included Jeremy Goldman (Bio Med), Ashutosh Tiwari (Chem), Hairong Wei (SFRES), Justin Segula (SFRES graduate student), Jingtuo Zhang (Chem graduate student) and Caleb Vogt (Bio Med undergrad student). Continue reading

First Commercial Quantities of EPA-Approved Cellulosic Ethanol Sold–With a Little Help from Michigan Tech

drshonnardScientists and engineers—including several at Michigan Technological University—have been talking for years about biofuel, particularly cellulosic ethanol, which is fuel made from trees and other woody plants. The stumbling blocks have been huge and progress, slow. But the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Renewable Fuels Standard mandates that cellulosic ethanol be blended into gasoline for use in vehicles, so the need is immediate.

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Advanced Power Systems Research Center (APS LABS) Social Event

thumbThe Michigan Tech Advanced Power Systems Research Center (APS LABS) hosted an open house and tours of their new facilities along with the Michigan Tech First Friday Social for October 2014.

Laboratory tours and presentations were given by faculty, staff and graduate student researchers.
The guests saw research, outreach and educational initiatives in mobility, sustainable transportation, and energy. Continue reading

Black is the New Green: Biochar Beats Wood in Cook Stoves

image112833-horizIt’s one of the world’s biggest killers, leading to lung cancer, heart disease, and COPD, not to mention child pneumonia and low birth-weight babies. It affects billions of people. And if you think it’s tobacco, you are wrong, but understandably so. The smoke from wood-fired cook stoves in the developing world is a best-kept secret in the pantheon of unhealthy things we humans inflict upon ourselves. The solution is not simply a matter of telling women (for it is mostly women who cook) to find some other way to prepare the family meal. Alternatives to gathering your own wood are typically too expensive or simply nonexistent for subsistence farmers. However, that may soon change in the West African nation of Benin, thanks to a partnership between students at Michigan Technological University and the French firm AFI.

Michigan Tech Hosts Mineral Processing Experts from Around the World

Short Course
Short Course
The Advanced Sustainable Iron and Steelmaking Center (ASISC) at Michigan Tech is hosting its fourth annual meeting in Houghton on August 14-15, 2014. The annual meeting is a gathering of professionals from the mining and mineral processing industry.
ASISC members pool resources to address a diverse spectrum of interdisciplinary research questions. During the meeting they share their work and experiences to further the development of a new generation of sustainable, economical mineral processing technologies.

Michigan Tech Collaborates on $4 Million Department of Energy Project

Michigan Technological University is one of three colleges and universities that will collaborate with the biotech-based alternative fuels and chemical company LanzaTech on a $4 million research project. They will work to find ways to convert waste methane into low carbon fuels and chemicals.

Funding for the 3-year research project comes from the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).

Chemical Engineering Professor David Shonnard will lead the research at Michigan Tech, with Robert Handler providing technical and program management support. Shonnard is director of the University’s Sustainable Futures Institute (SFI) and holds the Richard and Bonnie Robbins Chair in Sustainable Materials. Handler is SFI operations manager