Category Archives: Research

Chemical Engineering News Briefs


David Shonnard (ChE/SFI), Bethany Klemetsrud, Jordan Klinger and Suchada Ukaew (ChE) have received $24,482 from Battelle Energy Alliance, LLC for the research and development project titled “Characterization of Products From Fast Pyrolysis of Municipal Solid Waste: Preliminary Analyses Using Micro-Pyrolysis.”

Caryn Heldt (ChE/BRC) has received $104,633 for the first year of a five-year project totaling $525,684 from the National Science Foundation. The title of the project is “CAREER: Surface and Interparticle Forces for Improved Virus Removal.”

Technology Century, an online and print publication of the Engineering Society of Detroit, featured editor Matt Roush’s interviews with faculty and graduate students from the College of Engineering at Michigan Tech, the first stop on his annual Tech Tour of university campuses in Michigan.

Researchers from the Department of Chemical Engineering participated in the TCS2014 Symposium on Thermal and Catalytic Sciences for Biofuels and Biobased Products, featuring the latest results from the NSF-funded Sustainable Energy Pathways (SEP) project. The symposium was held Sept. 2-5 in Denver, Colo.

David Shonnard, professor and Robbins Chair in sustainable materials, presented a keynote lecture on sustainability of transportation biofuels. Professor Michael Mullins and PhD student Lilu Funkenbusch presented a poster on the computational modeling of a chemical reactor producing hydrocarbon biofuel from wood chip-derived bio-oil.

Michigan Tech researchers participated in the TCS2014 Symposium on Thermal and Catalytic Sciences for Biofuels and Biobased Products featuring the latest results from the NSF-funded Sustainable Energy Pathways project. Robbins Chair David Shonnard (ChE) presented a keynote lecture on sustainability of transportation biofuels. Professor Michael Mullins (ChE) and PhD student Lilu Funkenbusch presented a poster on the computational modeling of a chemical reactor producing hydrocarbon biofuel from wood chip-derived bio-oil.

Robert Handler, David Shonnard, and Jiqing Fan (ChE/SFI) have been awarded $47,602 for environmental life-cycle assessment (LCA) studies for Gas Technology Institute (GTI), and the Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation Grand Challenge on a project to transform carbon from a liability into an asset. GTI will serve as the prime contractor and will perform process engineering, catalysts, and reaction systems research and development work. Michigan Tech will be a subcontractor performing LCA. The project began on April 1 and will run for two years.

Scientists develop simple analysis tool for tears: Research led by associate professor Adrienne Minerick (ChE) to develop a tear test for vitamin deficiency was picked up by the news site Medical News.

PI Adrienne Minerick (ChE) and Co-Pis Mary Raber (ILI) and Paul Bergstrom (ECE) have been awarded a $200,000 research grant from the National Science Foundation for “PFI: AIR–TT: Blood Typing Device without Reagents: Sensing Electrodes to Replace Optics.”

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Awards to Chemical Engineering students, showing their advisor and project title.
Shannon Ennis; Chemical Engineering; S. Komar Kawatra
Title: pH Neutral Iron Ore Processing: A Breakthrough in Environmentally Friendly Mineral Processing
Peter Gardner; Chemical Engineering; Caryn Heldt
Title: Infectivity of Hepatitis A Virus and Porcine Parvovirus in the Presence of Cochlospermum Planchonii Extracts
Alex Reichanadter; Chemical Engineering; Julie King;
Title: Mechanical Properties of Continuous Carbon Fiber/Graphene Nanoplatelet/Epoxy Composites

Biofuels Digest, a publication featuring news of the biofuels industry, published an article on American Process, an Alpena, Mich., based biofuel refinery that recently shipped the first shipment of cellulosic ethanol produced from forest waste products. In the article, CEO Theodora Retsina credited Michigan Tech for technological support, for the experiments and environmental analyses conducted by professor David Shonnard (ChE), professor Sue Bagley (Bio Sci) and students.

The 2nd Annual Research Forum for Graduate and Undergraduate Students for the Department of Chemical Engineering was held on Wednesday, January 22, 2014. View the complete report with links to video clips and photos.

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).

Thank you to the participants, the judges and all who helped with another successful BRC Research Forum. A list of BRC award winners is below.

Graduate Grand Prize
Maria Gencoglu (ChE) “A New Virus Purification Process: Virus Flocculation in the Presence of Osmolytes”
Advisor: Caryn Heldt

Graduate Merit Awards
Emily Shearier (Bio Med) “Mesenchymal Stem Cell Spheroids for Therapy Following Axillary Lymph Node Dissection” Advisor: Feng Zhao

Yu Wang (Bio Med) “Building a Virtual Breast Elastography Phantom Lab Using Open Source Software”
Advisor: Jingfeng Jiang

Undergraduate Grand Prize
Caleb Vogt (Bio Med) “Human Mesenchymal Stem Cell Response to Nitric Oxide Relesasing Materials”
Advisors: Megan Frost and Feng Zhao

Undergraduate Merit Award
Mitchell Tahtinen (Bio Med) “Prevascularization of Natural Extracellular Matrix Scaffold”
Advisor: Feng Zhao

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.

Goups of guests also toured the Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) Mobile Laboratory and saw the pilot production facilities for the university’s Wood-to-Wheels and Wood-to-Energy initiatives.

The Advanced Power Systems Research Center – APS Labs – are in the former Blizzard Snow Plow Factory Building near the County Airport.

A Photo Gallery can be seen on Advanced Power Systems Research Center APS Lab.

A few short video clips can also be viewed:

APS Labs
APS Labs

View Video clip “APS Labs Program Video on Michigan Tech Engineering Channel on YouTube

Wood to Wheels Pilot Plant
Wood to Wheels Pilot Plant

View Video clip “Wood to Wheels Plant Tour Program Video on Michigan Tech Engineering Channel on YouTube

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


ASISC Annual Meeting

ASISC is a true partnership of academic institutions and industry with research interests in sustainable iron and steel making. This partnership leverages the strengths of academia and industry by pooling resources to address a diverse spectrum of interdisciplinary research questions of mutual benefit to ASISC members. Continue reading

First Place in Innovation Corps

Another I-Corps Team Claims First: Michigan Tech’s latest I-Corps team placed first among 21 teams in New York last week, after a final presentation of their market analyses for new technologies. The team was led by Chemical Engineering Associate Professor Adrienne Minerick, with post-doc Kaela Leonard serving as entrepreneurial lead and team mentor Mary Raber, associate director of the Institute for Leadership and Innovation.

A National Science Foundation program, I-Corps stands for Innovation Corps. Its goal is to help researchers learn how to do customer and market analysis, to enable them to fine-tune their technologies to meet an actual market need.

The technology they are looking to develop is a rapid, portable blood-typing device.

Minerick’s team is the third one from Michigan Tech chosen to participate in the I-Corps program.