Yushan Yan of University of Delaware Is Named R. H. Wilhelm Award Recipient for 2021

ChEnected is introducing readers to the recipients of AIChE’s 2021 Institute and Board of Directors’ Awards. These are AIChE’s highest honors, and all candidates are nominated by the chemical engineering community and voted upon by the members of AIChE’s volunteer-led Awards Committee. The awards acknowledge outstanding achievements across a spectrum of chemical engineering endeavors.

The R. H. Wilhelm Award for Chemical Reaction Engineering recognizes significant new contributions in that field, and is sponsored by ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company.

Dr. Yan’s recognition

The 2021 recipient of the R. H. Wilhelm Award is Yushan Yan, the Henry B. du Pont Chair in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Delaware. 

Dr. Yan is being recognized “for sustained excellence and breakthrough contributions to electrochemical reaction engineering and electrocatalysis.”

A pioneer in reaction engineering, especially in the area of electrochemical systems, Yan is internationally recognized for his original and influential contributions in several areas, including the design, performance modeling and technoeconomic analysis of electrochemical reactors such as fuel cells, electrolyzers, and flow batteries; the development of polymer electrolytes and electrocatalysts for world-record reactor performance; and the mechanistic understanding of electrocatalytic reactions of both fundamental and technological significance.

Dr. Yan and the other honorees received their awards at the 2021 AIChE Annual Meeting, November 7–11 in Boston, Massachusetts. A video presentation of the awards was also available for viewing the following week at a virtual version of the Annual Meeting.      

Prior to his current position, Yan served as the founding Associate Dean for Research and Entrepreneurship at the University of Delaware; as Chemical Engineering Department Chair at the University of California, Riverside; and as Senior Staff Engineer at AlliedSignal.

He has documented his research in more than 270 widely cited publications. He is also an inventor on more than 20 issued U.S. patents, which have helped form the basis of several start-up companies, including NanoH2O and Versogen, for which, at the latter company, he is the founder and chief executive officer. 

More about this year’s award winner

Yan’s previous honors include the Braskem Award from AIChE’s Materials Engineering and Sciences Division, AIChE’s Nanoscale Science and Engineering Forum Award, the Donald Breck Award from the International Zeolite Association, and the Carl Wagner Memorial Award and Energy Technology Division Research Award from the Electrochemical Society. He is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Academy of Inventors, and the Electrochemical Society. He was named a Highly Cited Researcher by Web of Science. 

Yan earned a BS in chemical physics at the University of Science and Technology of China and his PhD in chemical engineering at CalTech.

Stay in the know

You can read about all the recipients of the 2021 Institute and Board of Directors’ Awards in this series. For a listing of all awards presented by AIChE, visit aiche.org/awards.