March Section Meeting

Opportunities and Challenges in a New Golden Age of Chemical Engineering
Thursday, March 8, 2018, 6:00pm EST
Event format: 
In-Person / Local
Posted by Jeffrey Pike
140 Laurens St. SW
Aiken, SC 29801
United States

Joint meeting with Palmetto Section and USC student section in Aiken.

Dinner $25 Buffet.  Please sign up by March 5 by sending name to

Phillip R. Westmoreland
Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC
Director of the Southeast Regional Manufacturing Center for CESMII, the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute

Chemical engineering is entering a new Golden Age of practice, thought, and impact, accompanied by new opportunities and challenges. Five signs of this Golden Age are a new abundance of hydrocarbons; the evolution of biology into a molecular science; the ubiquity of powerful computational tools; the trend in manufacturing to be more process-oriented; and the chemical+systems approach that is part of ChE education from its first stages.

The production of biofuels illustrates both the opportunities and challenges. Chemical mechanisms for fast pyrolysis have been elusive until recently. Our experiments and quantum-chemical modeling have revealed the elementary reactions that dominate cellulose pyrolysis in the absence of ions, promising the development of fundamental reaction-engineering models. At the same time, burning any carbon-based fuel generates CO2, and shifting the the global carbon balance away from CO2 seems crucial. Our findings and their larger context will be discussed.

Short bio-sketch:

Phil Westmoreland's B.S.Ch.E. degree was from North Carolina State University, followed by an M.S.Ch.E. from LSU. He worked for five years at Oak Ridge National Laboratory on coal research, leaving to earn his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from MIT. For 23 years, he was on the Chemical Engineering faculty at UMass Amherst and then moved to North Carolina State University in 2009.  He was 2013 President of AIChE and received the 2017 AIChE Institute Award for Excellence in Industrial Gases Technology.

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