Plenary Lectures

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Arun Majumdar, Stanford University, USA

Arun Majumdar

Arun Majumdar is the Jay Precourt Professor at Stanford University, a faculty member of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and co-director of the Precourt Institute for Energy, which integrates and coordinates research and education activities across all seven Schools and the Hoover Institution at Stanford.

Majumdar's research in the past has involved the science and engineering of nanoscale materials and devices, especially in the areas of energy conversion, transport and storage as well as biomolecular analysis. His current research focuses on electrochemical storage, power generation and refrigeration; storing carbon-free energy in renewable fuels; and a new effort to re-engineer the electricity grid using modern sensing, computing and control as well as data science.

In October 2009, Majumdar was nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate to become the Founding Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E), where he served till June 2012 and helped ARPA-E become a model of excellence for the government with bipartisan support from Congress and other stakeholders. Between March 2011 and June 2012, he also served as the Acting Under Secretary of Energy, enabling the portfolio that reported to him: Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Office of Electricity Delivery and Reliability, Office of Nuclear Energy and the Office of Fossil Energy, as well as multiple cross-cutting efforts (e.g. Sunshot, Grid Tech Team, etc) that he initiated.

After leaving Washington, DC and before joining Stanford, Majumdar was the Vice President for Energy at Google, where he created several energy technology initiatives, especially at the intersection of data, computing and electricity grid, and advised the company on its broader energy strategy. Dr. Majumdar received his bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay in 1985 and his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in 1989.

Abstract: Navigating the Turbulence of the Global Energy System

After more than a hundred years of historic success, the fundamentals of the energy industry are rapidly changing driven by three “Ds”, namely: (i) Decarbonization, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, especially in view of the Paris Agreement;  (ii) Diversification, to offer more choices for fuels, electricity generation and options for mobility as well as national security; (iii) Digitization, to automate, increase efficiency and lower costs.   The world still faces three big energy challenges, namely: (a) How can one continue the exponential economic growth while decarbonizing the economy cost-effectively?; (b) How can the energy system be made resilient, adaptable and secure against various threats – climate, cyber...?; (c) How can one provide access to affordable modern energy to every human being in the world, noting that there are about 1.2 billion people who don’t have access to modern energy and another 1 billion people who have marginal access? History has taught us that for our energy policies to be truly sustainable for the long term, they must maintain a balance between three securities - economic, national and environmental—while also ensuring social equity. The paramount question can be summarized as: What pathways or approaches should a business, an industry, nation or a region adopt to address the future challenges while navigating, leveraging and shaping the three “D” landscape?  This talk will provide a snapshot of various trends in the 3Ds and offer some thoughts on addressing this paramount challenge.  It will also highlight the need to innovate – to experiment with new ideas, knowing some of them will fail, but hopefully fail quickly, and more importantly, teach a lot in the process. 

 

Massimo Morbidelli, ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Massimo Morbidelli

Massimo Morbidelli received his Laurea in Chemical Engineering at the Politecnico di Milano in 1977, and his PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of Notre Dame in 1986. After his first appointments as professor at the University of Cagliari (Italy) and then at the Politecnico di Milano, he is, since 1997, Professor of Chemical Reaction Engineering at the Institute for Chemical and Bioengineering at ETH Zurich, Switzerland.

His group currently focusses on two main research topics. The first is aimed at developing integrated continuous up and downstream processes for the purification of therapeutic proteins, their PEGylation reactions and other processes of interest in the pharmaceutical industry. The second area concerns chemical reaction engineering, with particular emphasis on polymer reactions and colloidal engineering. This has evolved over the years in developing new processes for the production of polymer particles, ranging from the micro to the nano scale, exhibiting various types of functionalities and physico-chemical characteristics, including bio compatibility and degradation kinetics. Applications in various areas are considered including drug delivery, composite materials and treatment of oil reservoirs.

Morbidelli is co-author of more than 600 papers, 11 international patents and four books. He serves as an associate editor of the ACS journal of Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, and is a member of the scientific board of several international scientific journals. He is the recipient of the 2005 R.H. Wilhelm Award in Chemical Reaction Engineering of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and of the 2014 Gerhard Damköhler-Medaille of DECHEMA and VDI-GVC. He is a cofounder of ChromaCon Ltd., a spin-off company from his research group. Since 2007, ChromaCon Ltd. brings new chromatographic processes (MCSGP-technology) for the purification of proteins and peptides to the market.

Abstract: From Polymer Colloids to Structured Materials

Emulsion polymerization is widely used at the industrial scale to produce aqueous dispersions of polymer colloids, with highly controlled size and polydispersity, in a variety of different chemical compositions and morphologies. Such nanoparticles are typically coagulated in appropriate devices to produce the desired polymeric materials in the form of dry powders.

Recent results in the theory of colloidal systems indicated the possibility to exploit the aggregation and breakage events occurring in these devices to produce supranano-structures, which cannot be achieved otherwise. Appropriate chemical reactions are then conducted to provide suitable functionalities as well as mechanical properties. For example, one can mix dispersions of colloids of different composition and realize composites where the different phases retain the same size and morphology of the original colloidal particles. By controlling the gelation process, one can create percolating phases inside such composites, which allow transferring physicochemical properties from the nano to the macro scale. The case of bigels, where two independently percolating phases are created is also discussed.

Examples of different structured materials of interest for various applications are discussed. These include the production of controlled porous materials in the form of powders or monoliths, which can be used as adsorbents for large (bio) molecules or as thermal insulators. Other areas of interest include drug delivery and enhanced oil recovery.

 

Sirish Shah, University of Alberta

Sirish L Shah has been with the University of Alberta since 1978, where he held the NSERC-­‐Matrikon-­‐Suncor-­‐iCORE Senior Industrial Research Chair in Computer Process Control from 2000 to 2012. He is the recipient of the Albright & Wilson Americas Award of the Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering (CSChE) in recognition of distinguished contributions to chemical engineering in 1989, the Killam Professor in 2003 and the D.G. Fisher Award of the CSChE for significant contributions in the field of systems and control, the ASTECH award in 2011 and the 2015-­IEEE Transition to Practice award. He has held visiting appointments at Oxford University and Balliol College as a SERC fellow, Kumamoto University (Japan) as a senior research fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), the University of Newcastle, Australia, IIT-­‐Madras India and the National University of Singapore. The main area of his current research is process and performance monitoring, analysis and rationalization of alarm systems. He has co-­authored three books, the first titled, "Performance Assessment of Control Loops: Theory and Applications", a second titled "Diagnosis of Process Nonlinearities and Valve Stiction: Data Driven Approaches”, and a more recent monograph on “Capturing connectivity and causality in complex industrial processes”. He is a fellow of the Canadian academy of engineers.

Abstract: From Autonomous Cars to Autonomous Processes: Hype or Reality?

The age of autonomous or self-driving cars is upon us.  These cars have been developed by analyzing millions of miles of data from driver experiences and combining this knowledge with a variety of techniques to detect a vehicle’s surroundings with radar/sonar, GPS and computer vision. Advanced control systems that interpret the sensor information are then used to navigate the car safely and in good time to its desired destination while avoiding all types of obstacles. In the same vein, consider the process industry that is awash with all types of data archived over many years:  sensor data, alarm data with operator actions to ‘navigate’ the process to operate at desired conditions and process models that are used for advanced control. The fusion of information from such disparate sources of process data is the key step in devising strategies for a smart analytics platform for autonomous process operation. The purpose of this talk is to present results and strategies that will ultimately lead us to safe and optimal autonomous or semi-autonomous process operation.