Pitt | Swanson Engineering

The Chemical and Petroleum Engineering department at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering was established in 1910, making it the first department for petroleum engineering in the world. Today, our department has over 40 expert faculty (tenure/tenure-stream/joint/adjunct), a host of dedicated staff, more than 20 state-of-the-art laboratories and learning centers, and education programs that enrich with strong fundamentals and hands-on experience.

Chemical engineering is concerned with processes in which matter and energy undergo change. The range of concerns is so broad that the chemical engineering graduate is prepared for a variety of interesting and challenging employment opportunities.

Chemical engineers with strong background in sciences are found in management, design, operations, and research. Chemical engineers are employed in almost all industries, including food, polymers, chemicals, pharmaceutical, petroleum, medical, materials, and electronics. Since solutions to energy, environmental, and food problems must surely involve chemical changes, there will be continued demands for chemical engineers in the future.

Dec
7
2016

Closing the Carbon Loop: Pitt chemical engineering team identifies new catalyst that advances capture and conversion of atmospheric carbon dioxide

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (December 7, 2016) … Research at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering focused on developing a new catalyst that would lead to large-scale implementation of capture and conversion of carbon dioxide (CO2) was recently published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Catalysis Science & Technology. Principal investigator is Karl Johnson, the William Kepler Whiteford Professor in the Swanson School's Department of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering. Postdoctoral associate Jingyun Ye is lead author. The article “Catalytic Hydrogenation of CO2 to Methanol in a Lewis Pair Functionalized MOF” (DOI: 10.1039/C6CY01245K), is featured on the cover of Catalysis Science & Technology (vol. 6, no. 24) and builds upon Dr. Johnson’s previous research that identified the two main factors for determining the optimal catalyst for turning atmospheric CO2 into liquid fuel. The research was conducted using computational resources at the University’s Center for Simulation and Modeling. “Capture and conversion of CO2 to methanol has the potential to solve two problems at once – reducing net carbon dioxide emissions while generating cleaner fuels,” Dr. Johnson explained. “Currently, however, it is a complex and expensive process that is not economically feasible. Because of this, we wanted to simplify the catalytic process as much as possible to create a sustainable and cost-effective method for converting CO2 to fuel – essentially to reduce the number of steps involved from several to one.” Johnson and Ye focused on computationally designing a catalyst capable of producing methanol from CO2 and H2 utilizing metal organic frameworks (MOFs), which potentially provide a pathway to a single-process unit for carbon capture and conversion. The MOFs could dramatically reduce the cost of carbon capture and conversion, bringing the potential of CO2 as a viable feedstock for fuels closer to reality. “Methanol synthesis has been extensively studied because methanol can work in existing systems such as engines and fuel cells, and can be easily transported and stored. Methanol is also a starting point for producing many other useful chemicals,” Dr. Johnson said. “This new MOF catalyst could provide the key to close the carbon loop and generate fuel from CO2, analogously to how a plant converts carbon dioxide to hydrocarbons.” This work was supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (Grant No. DE-FG02-10ER16165). Image above and cover inset: Artist's conception of a catalyst (light blue and gray framework) capable of capturing CO2 (red and gray molecules on left side) and, along with hydrogen (white molecules) converting it to methanol (red, gray and white molecules on the right). ### About the Johnson Research Group The Johnson Research Group at the University of Pittsburgh uses atomistic modeling to tackle fundamental problems over a wide range of subject areas in chemical engineering, including the study of the molecular design of nanoporous sorbents for the capture of carbon dioxide, the transport of gases and liquids through carbon nanotube membranes, chemical reactions with doped carbon nanotubes, development of CO2-soluble polymers and CO2 thickeners, and hydrogen storage with complex hydrides.   About Dr. Johnson Karl Johnson is co-director of the Center for Simulation and Modeling at the University of Pittsburgh and a member of the Pittsburgh Quantum Institute. He received his bachelor’s and master’s of science degrees in chemical engineering from Brigham Young University. In 1992, he received his PhD in chemical engineering with a minor in computer science from Cornell University.
Author: Paul Kovach, Director of Marketing and Communications
Nov
28
2016

Pitt Researchers Awarded $1.7 Million NIH Grant to “Sniff Out” Better Treatment for Lung Disease

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (November 28, 2016) … Cystic Fibrosis (CF) causes the accumulation of dehydrated mucus in the lungs which can lead to chronic infection, inflammation and respiratory failure and drastically affect the lives of CF patients. These ever-changing complexities often make it difficult for doctors to decide which therapies will be most effective in treating the disease.To develop better evaluation methods, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded a research team at the University of Pittsburgh’s schools of engineering and medicine a highly competitive $1.7 million U01 grant to develop new mathematical models of liquid and ion transport in the human lung. These models could allow doctors to rapidly personalize interventions for patients suffering from CF and other lung diseases and administer the most effective treatment by simply studying a cell culture from the patient’s nose.Robert Parker, professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering, and Tim Corcoran, associate professor of medicine, bioengineering and chemical engineering at the School of Medicine, in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care, will lead the study as co-principal investigators. Three co-investigators will join the study: Carol Bertrand from Pediatrics, and Joe Pilewski and Mike Myerburg, both from the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine.“We know that mucus hydration and clearance are important factors in CF lung disease,” said Dr. Corcoran. “We’ve developed nuclear imaging techniques to measure how mucus and water move in the lungs. This lets us understand the individual lung pathologies of our patients and may allow us to predict what therapies will help them. The techniques we are using were actually developed here, and we’re pretty much the only ones using them.”The researchers will begin by collecting data from patients with CF, biological parents of patients with CF who carry the CF mutation and healthy controls. After sampling and culturing of human nasal epithelial (HNE) cells - under the direction of Dr. Myerburg - Dr. Corcoran will use aerosol-based nuclear imaging to measure mucus clearance and airway surface liquid dehydration in the lungs.Once the researchers have collected data from the patients’ HNE cell cultures and lung imagining, they will use advanced computational techniques to find the correlation between the nasal cell physiology and lung physiology. Dr. Parker will lead the group’s effort to translate the data collected from the test subjects into multi-scale mathematical models that provide cell- and organ-level visualizations of the patients’ physiology.  “The mathematical models—through a framework of differential equations—describe how basic physiological processes contribute to experimental outcomes,” said Parker. “We can link all of the information we’ve gathered from lab experiments, physiology studies and clinical studies to better predict how a patient will respond to different therapies. By creating millions of simulations over a broad spectrum of patients, we can identify the underlying biological mechanism and understand how the patients will respond to treatment through the painless, non-invasive sampling of the HNE cells.”Ultimately, the researchers hope to show that nasal cell sampling and interpretation of the data by the computer models can lead to a highly personalized approach to treating a patient with CF that could begin as early as birth. This would greatly enhance a patient’s quality of life, increase life expectancy and limit progress of the disease.“We are always going to be limited by the number of patients we can test,” added Parker. “However, we can bridge the gap between the full set of all CF patients and a smaller set of CF patients with similar symptoms who are likely to respond to treatment in a similar way. The mathematical models will help us create those sets and let us predict outcomes and design treatments for individual patients.” ### Image above: Nuclear imaging shows mucus clearance from the lungs. These imaging techniques can be used along with systems models to help develop treatments for Cystic Fibrosis.
Author: Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Nov
7
2016

ChemE's Judith Yang named Fellow of the American Physical Society

Chemical & Petroleum

COLLEGE PARK, MD (November 7, 2016) … The American Physical Society (APS) has elected Judith Yang, professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, to the position of Fellow.APS President Homer Neal cited Yang’s selection: “For seminal contributions to in situ environmental transmission electron microscopy, the fundamental understanding of metal oxidation and the application of nanomaterials and catalysis.”Yang joined 14 other members of the APS Division of Materials Physics to be named Fellows this year. The APS caps the number of new Fellows elected each year to one half of one percent of its 51,000 members internationally. The Fellowship committee evaluates each nomination based on a criteria of exceptional contributions to the physics enterprise, including outstanding research, application, leadership or service and contributions to education related to the field of physics.“I feel honored in becoming a Fellow of the American Physical Society, but I also look forward to the attention and recognition it will bring to the University of Pittsburgh,” said Yang. “We have only recently been able to see the dynamic processes of oxidation at the nanoscale by using environmental transmission electron microscopy; we are starting to gain a new fundamental understanding of oxidation that challenges classical theories.”Last December, Yang received two National Science Foundation awards for research that will reveal new insights into metal oxidation. By using electron microscopy capable of observing changes in real time, she will analyze the effects of oxidation on copper and the nano-structure of other metals used in a variety of industries. Both projects take advantage of the Hitachi H9500 ETEM, a new environmental transmission electron microscope that arrived at Pitt in August 2015. Funding for this instrument was provided by a NSF-MRI grant awarded to Yang in 2013.Yang received her bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of California and her master’s degree and PhD from Cornell University. After graduation, she became a post-doctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute of Metallforschung in Stuttgart, Germany. She continued her post-doctoral research and became a visiting lecturer when she joined the Materials Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana, Champaign. She joined the University of Pittsburgh faculty in 1999 and has received numerous awards including the 2005 Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award. ###
Author: Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Oct
3
2016

Assistant Professor, Tenure Stream, Faculty Opening - Chemical and Petroleum Engineering

Chemical & Petroleum, Open Positions

We seek one or more exceptional candidates at the assistant professor level. Candidates should show strong potential to become leaders in their respective fields and to contribute to teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The Department has internationally recognized programs in Energy and Sustainability, Catalysis and Reaction Engineering, Materials, Multi-Scale Modeling, and Biomedical Engineering.  Active collaborations exist with several adjacent centers, including the University of Pittsburgh Center for Simulation and Modeling, the Center for Energy, the Petersen Institute for Nanoscience and Engineering, the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and the U.S. DOE National Energy Technology Laboratory.  Our department has also recently established a strategic alliance with Lubrizol Corporation that includes educational and research components. Outstanding candidates in all areas will be considered, however, Biotechnology is an area of special interest in this search. The successful applicant will be expected to contribute to the department’s inclusive excellence goals.  The candidate must be committed to high quality teaching for a diverse student body and to assisting our department in enhancing diversity. Candidates from groups traditionally underrepresented in engineering are strongly encouraged to apply. To apply, submit CV, names of four references, and research and teaching plans as a single PDF file to: Professor Robert Enick; Chemical Engineering Department; 940 Benedum Hall; University of Pittsburgh; Pittsburgh, PA  15261.  Applications accepted via email only to che@engr.pitt.edu. In order to ensure full consideration, applications must be received by December 31, 2016.  The University of Pittsburgh is an EEO/AA/M/F/Vet/Disabled employer.

che@engr.pitt.ed
Sep
16
2016

In Memory of Irving Wender, Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering

Chemical & Petroleum

On behalf of the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering and the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, it is with profound sadness that we mark the passing of Irving Wender, Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering and one of the most outstanding researchers in our field. Many of our colleagues around the world will recognize his name for his extensive research in catalysis, and for his impact with the federal government, but at Pitt he is still remembered for his kind and generous nature. He was mentor to many of our faculty, and was the inspiration for dozens of graduate students, many of whom now have established careers in academia, industry and government. His passion for teaching and research was exceptional, and he will be truly missed. Irving’s funeral will be held Sunday, September 18 from 1:00-3:00 pm at Rodef Shalom in Pittsburgh. Our Department will plan a special tribute at a future date. Please join me in remembering Dr. Wender and celebrating his century of inspiration. Sincerely,Steven R. Little, PhDWilliam Kepler Whiteford Professor and Department ChairIrving Wender received his undergraduate degree in chemistry at the City College of New York in 1936, followed by an MS in chemistry at Columbia University (which was interrupted by WWII during which he worked on the Manhattan Project), and a PhD in chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh, studying the kinetics and mechanism of homogeneously catalyzed hydroformylation (oxo) reactions. This was followed by an illustrious career, first in fundamental, then in applied research, as Project Coordinator, then Research Director, and finally as Director of the Pittsburgh Energy Research Center, U.S. Bureau of Mines. Subsequently, he was Special Advisor to the Program Director, Fossil Energy (FE), at the Department of Energy (DOE), Special Assistant to the Secretary of Fossil Energy, and finally Director, Office of Advanced Research and Technology Development, FE, DOE, in Washington, DC. In 1981, he accepted a position as Research Professor in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, and in 1994, was named Distinguished University Research Professor of Engineering.Dr. Wender authored over 200 papers (including eight in Nature and two in Science), edited five books and was awarded eleven patents. Among his numerous awards and honors are: the inaugural H.H. Storch Award in Fuel Science in 1964, for distinguished contributions to the science and utilization of coal; the Pittsburgh Award of the American Chemical Society for outstanding contributions to chemistry in 1968; the K.K. Kelley Award of the Department of Interior for contributions to coal chemistry and catalysis in 1969; and the American Chemical Society Award in Petroleum Chemistry and the Pittsburgh Catalysis Society Award in recognition of outstanding achievements in the field of catalysis, both in 1982. In November 1988, he became the first recipient of the Homer H. Lowry Award, presented by the Secretary of Energy in Washington, DC, “in recognition of advancing fossil energy technology through highly innovative research on catalytic conversion of syngas to fuels and chemicals, coal liquefaction and decisive guidance and inspirational leadership in shaping research programs in government, academia and industry.”As the most fitting tribute, Dr. Wender was recognized by his colleagues on his 100th birthday, June 19, 2015, on the final day of the international NAM24 catalysis conference, for which he served as honorary chair.

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