Zhiping Lai of KAUST Is Co-recipient of AIChE’s 2020 Industrial Gases Award

Photo credit: Anastasia Serin

This fall, ChEnected is introducing readers to the recipients of AIChE’s 2020 Institute and Board of Directors’ Awards. These are AIChE’s highest honors. Recipients are nominated by the chemical engineering community and voted on by the members of AIChE’s volunteer-led Awards Committee. These award recognize outstanding achievements and world-class contributions across a spectrum of chemical engineering endeavors. 

The Institute Award for Excellence in Industrial Gases Technology

The Institute Award for Excellence in Industrial Gases Technology recognizes sustained excellence in contributions to the advancement of technology in the production, distribution, and application of industrial gases.

The 2020 Industrial Gases Award is being presented jointly to Hae-Kwon Jeong, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University, and Zhiping Z. Lai, Professor of Chemical Engineering at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia. 

Today’s post recognizes Dr. Lai. You can read about Dr. Jeong in a previous post. 

Dr. Lai and Dr. Jeong are being recognized “for pioneering contributions and sustained excellence in the field of metal-organic framework membranes for gas separations development.”

“Chemical engineers are destined to continue making vital contributions to our future lives.”

Dr. Lai's research

After working as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and as an assistant professor at Nanyang Technological University (Singapore), Zhiping Lai became a founding engineering faculty member at KAUST. His research focuses on the development of high-performance membranes from rationally designed porous materials and their applications in gas and hydrocarbon separations, desalination, organic solvent nanofiltration, ultrafiltration, lithium batteries, and catalysis. His pioneering works include b-oriented MFI membranes for xylene isomer separations, ZIF-8 membranes for C2/C3 and propene/propane separations, and carbon membranes for water desalinations. Lai received his BE and MSc degrees from Tsinghua University and his PhD from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, all in chemical engineering.

Reflections on the work behind the award

In reflecting on his work, Lai said:

“I have never felt so excited to be a chemical engineer as I do today, as I consider the potential impact of saving up to 90% of energy in the future chemical industry by employing membranes to replace existing separation technologies. I am often fascinated by the beauty of porous material structures that offer unprecedented opportunities for engineering applications. Chemical engineers are destined to continue making vital contributions to our future lives.”

Read the separate ChEnected post about Hae-Kwon Jeong, the co-recipient of this award. 

Stop back at ChEnected for upcoming entries in our series of 2020 Institute and Board of Directors’ Award recipients, and catch up on any previous posts in the series you've missed.