Penn State’s Phillip Savage Named 2022 R. H. Wilhelm Award Recipient

In this series, ChEnected is introducing readers to the recipients of AIChE’s 2022 Institute and Board of Directors’ Awards, AIChE’s highest honors. Recipients are nominated by the chemical engineering community and voted upon by the members of AIChE’s volunteer-led Awards Committee. 

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.

The 2022 recipient of the Wilhelm Award is Dr. Phillip E. Savage, Professor of Chemical Engineering and the Walter L. Robb Family Chair and Department Head at Pennsylvania State University. He is also the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan. Dr. Savage is being recognized for innovation and leadership in advancing the fields of hydrothermal kinetics, catalysis, and reaction engineering for renewable energy and green chemistry applications.

Savage and the other Institute and Board of Directors’ Award recipients will be honored at the 2022 AIChE Annual Meeting, November 13–18 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Phillip Savage began his chemical engineering training at Penn State. While earning his BS, he also gained internship experience working for DuPont, and this industry experience overlapped with his master’s degree studies at the University of Delaware, where, in 1986, he also earned his PhD. He then joining the faculty at the University of Michigan, where he became a professor before returning to Penn State in 2014. 

Areas of research

Dr. Savage’s lab has been advancing the frontiers of chemical reaction engineering through experimental and modeling research on reaction pathways, kinetics, and mechanisms for a variety of reaction systems. In addition to conducting original research, his lab has published a well-received tutorial on mechanisms and kinetics for hydrocarbon pyrolysis, a perspective on catalysis in supercritical water, and influential review articles on chemical reactions in hot compressed water and in supercritical fluids.  

His reaction engineering research has received wide recognition. For example, his lab’s use of hot compressed water as a medium for the synthesis of terephthalic acid garnered the inaugural Michigan Governor’s Award for Green Chemistry. The lab’s contributions in hydrothermal catalysis led to Savage’s receiving the Parravano Award from the Michigan Catalysis Society. His work on hydrothermal reactions of algal biomass was lauded with the inaugural Energy & Fuels Joint Award for Excellence in Publication from the American Chemical Society (ACS). He also received the 2020 Lawrence K. Cecil Award from AIChE’s Environmental Division. 

A Fellow of AIChE and ACS, Savage has served as a leader of AIChE’s Catalysis and Reaction Engineering Division. He is also editor-in-chief of the journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research – and he has documented his own research in more than 250 publications.

This fall, ChEnected is presenting profiles of all the 2022 Institute and Board of Directors’ Award recipients. You can read profiles of all recipients in this series