University of California, Riverside

Department of Chemical Engineering


Sharon Walker

Sharon Walker Appointed Associate Dean of Graduate Division

John Babbage Chair of Environmental Engineering and CEE Professor Sharon Walker has been appointed as Associate Dean of Graduate Division.  The appointment is responsible for graduate student recruitment and outreach, oversight of GradSuccess programs and graduate student funding opportunities.

Robert Haddon

Robert Haddon Among Five UCR Scientists Recognized for World's Most Influential Scientific Minds

Thomson Reuters, a leading source of information for businesses and professionals, has included five researchers at the University of California, Riverside in its 2014 list of “some of the best and brightest minds of our times.”  Read More

Sharon Walker

Sharon Walker Named ELATE Fellow for 2014-2015

John Babbage Chair of Environmental Engineering and CEE Professor Sharon Walker has been named a fellow of ELATE for 2014-15. ELATE is a core program of the International Center for Executive Leadership within the Institute for Women's Health and Leadership at the Drexel College of Medicine. It focuses on developing personal and professional leadership effectiveness in enhancing an organization's mission. 

Bryan Wong

CEE Welcomes New Faculty Member Bryan Wong

Prior to arriving at UCR, Wong received a Ph.D. in chemical physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.). In 2013, Wong moved to Drexel University as an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Materials Science & Engineering. He specializes in first-principles calculations for predicting electronic properties of photovoltaic materials, functionalized carbon nanotubes, graphene-based materials, and semiconductor nanowires.

Charles Wyman 

Improving Commercial Viability of Biofuels

Charles Wyman is one of the authors of a paper recently published in Science that outlines ways companies can commercialize and profit from what was thought to a waste product created when producing biofuels.  Read More

David Kisailus

Kisailus to Lead Research Team in $7.5M DOD Grant to Investigate Bio-Inspired Materials

David Kisailus, Winston Chung Professor of Energy Innovation in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, will lead a multidisciplinary team of researchers in a $7.5-million Department of Defense grant to uncover design rules and develop scientific foundations for the design of advanced materials inspired by a diverse collection of plant and animal structures.  Read More

Ashok Mulchandani

Mulchandani Named to Endowed Professorship

Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering Ashok Mulchandani has been named the W. Ruel Johnson Professor in Environmental Engineering, it was announced recently.
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Jake Lanphere

CEE Graduate Student Jake Lanphere Wins ACS Grad Student Award

Jake Lanphere, a graduate student in chemical and environmental engineering, has been awarded a 2014 Graduate Student Award in Environmental Chemistry by the American Chemical Society.  In addition to a cash award, Lanphere will receive a one-year membership in the ACS Environmental Chemistry Division.  Read More

Charles Cai

CEE Graduate Student Charles Cai Awarded 2013-2014 POC Award

4th year UCR CE-CERT graduate student Charles Cai’s (advised by Prof. Charles E. Wyman, Dr. Rajeev Kumar and Dr. Taiying Zhang) proposal was selected as one of this year’s POC 2013-2014 recipients, titled: “Co-Solvent to Promote Biofuel Precursor Production from Biomass”. The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development announced the FY2013-2014 Proof of Concept for Technology Commercialization (POC) Award Program.  Read More

Belen Oviedo

Postdoctoral associate M. Belén Oviedo receives an ICAM Postdoctoral Fellowship Award

The Institute for Complex Adaptive Matter (ICAM) is a multi-institutional partnership whose purpose is to identify major new research themes in complex adaptive matter and to nucleate and conduct collaborative research and scientific training that links together scientists in different fields and different institutions. Postdoctoral associate M. Belén Oviedo has been awarded an ICAM Postdoctoral Fellowship to conduct collaborative research between the Wong Group at UC Riverside and the Scholes Group at Princeton University. The award provides funding for a two-year period and is entitled “Non-Equilibrium Quantum Dynamics in Large Light-Harvesting Pentacene Complexes”

Jacob Lanphere

Graphene Not All Good

In a first-of-its-kind study of how a material some think could transform the electronics industry moves in water, researchers at the University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering found graphene oxide nanoparticles are very mobile in lakes or streams and therefore likely to cause negative environmental impacts if released.  Read More

Grill team

Catching Grease to Cut Grill Pollution

A team of CEE undergraduate students have designed a tray that when placed under the grates of a backyard grill reduces by 70 percent the level of a harmful pollutant produced during cooking.  Read More

Charles Cai - Wyman Lab

Enhancing Biofuel from Biomass with Novel New Method

A team of researchers, led by Professor Charles E. Wyman, at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering have developed a versatile, relatively non-toxic, and efficient way to convert raw agricultural and forestry residues and other plant matter, known as lignocellulosic biomass, into biofuels and chemicals.  Read More

Michelle Chebier

CEE Graduate Student Michelle Chebier Receives National Science Foundation Fellowship

First year Ph.D. student Michelle Chebier is one of eighteen graduate students at the University of California, Riverside that has received Graduate Research Fellowships (GRFs) from the National Science Foundation (NSF) this year.  The highly competitive fellowships are awarded to individuals early in their graduate careers based on their demonstrated potential for significant achievements in science and engineering. Read More

CEE Distinguished Speaker Harvey Blanch

January 1, 2014

The Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering will host a Distinguished Seminar Speaker, The Merck Professor of Biochemical Engineering, Dr. Harvey Blanch on Friday January 31, 2014.  Dr. Blanch's seminar title is: Biotechnology - Translating Modern Biology into Products and Processes.  The seminar announcement can be downloaded here.

CEE Welcomes New Faculty Member Ruoxue Yan

August 1, 2013

Prior to arriving at UCR, Dr. Ruoxue Yan was a postdoctoral fellow at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where she developed spectroscopic platforms to advance the fundamental understandings of the role of nanoscale interfaces in photocatalytic processes, such as artificial photosynthesis, at the molecular level. Dr. Ruoxue Yan received her Ph.D. in Chemistry from UC Berkeley in 2010, with her doctoral research focusing on design, synthesis and fabrication of nano-materials for photonic applications. She demonstrated various nanowire-based photonic components and invented the single cell endoscopy where nanowire photonics was interfaced with living human cells for high-resolution imaging, spot cargo delivery and optical sensing. Her current research interests lies in synthesis, characterization and device implementation of advanced materials for biological and energy applications, with an emphasis on nanowire-live cell interface, nano-catalysis and solar energy conversion.

BCOE Alumni Receive EPA Grant to Study Smog-Eating Tile

July 10, 2013

Recent graduates of the Bourns College of Engineeringreceived a $15,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to develop a testing protocol for smog eating roof tiles. The former students are William Lichtenberg, Duc Nguyen, Carlos, Espinoza, Calvin Cao and Vincent Chen. They all graduated in June. They were advised by David Cocker, a professor of chemical and environmental engineering, and Kawai Tam, a lecturer at the Bourns College of Engineering.  Read More

Chemical Engineering Undergraduate Alumni Steven Herrera Advances to International Lecture Competition in Hong Kong

June 20, 2013

Steven Herrera, who earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in December and continues to work in the lab of David Kisailus, an Associate Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, will travel to Hong Kong in October to represent the United States at the 2013 Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) competition. He will compete against students from Brazil, the United Kingdom and Ireland.  Read More

New "Electronic Nose" Nano-Sensor Being Developed for Food Safety, Health

June 13, 2013

The “electronic nose” sensor developed by UCR's Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Nosang Myung, and being commercialized by Innovation Economy Crowd (ieCrowd), will be further refined to detect deadly pathogens including toxic pesticides in the global food supply chain, according to a recently signed product development and distribution agreement.  Read More

Turning Plant Matter Into Fuel

June 12, 2013

Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering Charles Wyman recently published a book that provides in-depth information on aqueous processing of cellulosic biomass which includes wood, grasses, and agricultural and forestry residues, for conversion into fuels.  Read More

The 87th ACS 2013 Colloid and Surface Science Symposium at UC Riverside

June 1, 2013

Associate Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering Sharon Walker is conference co-chair for the 2013 ACS Colloid and Surface Science Symposium at UCR.  The event takes place Sunday June 23rd to Wednesday June 26th and will feature Keynote speakers Joanna Aizenberg, Harvard University and Barbara Finlayson-Pitts, UC Irvine.   87th ACS 2013 Colloid and Surface Science Symposium

Ph.D. Alumni Ian Marcus Building Human Colon to Improve Water Quailty

May 24, 2013

To better understand how bacteria impact the environment a former University of California, Riverside graduate student spent nearly a year building a system that replicates a human colon, septic tank and groundwater and “fed” the colon three times a day during weeklong experiments to simulate human eating.  Read More

Kisailus and Students Will Demonstrate Design by Nature at Riverside Metropolitan Museum

May 17, 2014

David Kisailus, the Winston Chung Endowed Chair of Energy Innovation and Associate Professor and his students will share lessons learned from nature about the design of the next generation of materials during a special program at the Riverside Metropolitan Museum Saturday, May 17, from 1-4 p.m.  Read More

DOE Funding Will Provide $3 Million for Biofuels Research

May 3, 2013

The Bourns College of Engineering-Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT) is scheduled to receive more than $3 million in funding for biofuels research, the U.S. Department of Energy announced recently. Read More

Team NOx-Out Score Two Wins at Environmental Design Competition

May 1, 2013

The team of BCOE students recently won two first place environmental design awards at the WERC: A Consortium for Environmental Education and Technology Development competition in Las Cruces, N.M. They developed a device that replaces a lawnmower's muffler and reduces carbon monoxide by 87 percent, nitrogen oxides by 67 percent, and particulate matter by 44 percent.  Read More

David Kisailus Receives Young Scientist Honor

April 9, 2013

David Kisailus, the Winston Chung Endowed Chair of Energy Innovation and Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering has been named a Kavli Fellow.

Kavli Fellows are young scientists selected by the advisory board of the Kavli Foundation, members of the National Academy of Sciences and organizers of the Kavli/National Academy of Sciences Frontiers in Science Symposia series. The Kavli Foundation, which is based in Oxnard, supports scientific research, honors scientific achievement, and promotes public understanding of scientists and their work.  Read More

Wheeldon Earns Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Award

January 28, 2013

Assistant Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering Ian Wheeldon has been named by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research as one of 40 scientists and engineers to receive Young Investigator Program research awards.
Read More

Walker Part of Faculty Team That Lands $3M NSF Grant for Graduate Research Fellowships

July 6, 2012

Associate Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering Sharon Walker is part of a five-member UCR faculty team that collaborated on bringing a $3-million NSF Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) grant to UCR that will provide fellowships for graduate students studying water quality.  UCR Today Press Release

Kisailus Awarded $1.75M in DoD Funding for Bio-Inspired Materials Research

July 5, 2012

Winston Chung Professor of Energy Innovation David Kisailus has received three grants totaling $1.75 million from the Department of Defense to study and understand the unique structure and function of biomineralized organisms in order to develop a new generation of scalable high-performance biologically-inspired multifunctional materials. Read More

Wu Selected by NAE for Frontiers of Engineering Symposium

June 27, 2012

Professor Jianzhong Wu is among 78 of the nation's brightest young engineers selected to take part in the National Academy of Engineering's 18th annual U.S. Frontiers of Engineering symposium in Michigan Sept. 13-15, 2012.  Read More

Students Win Pair of Design Awards for Water Purification System

June 11, 2012

A team of BCOE students has won two recent design competitions for a method they developed that uses the sun and a lens commonly found in old projection big screen televisions to make water safe to drink. The students received a $10,000 grant from the Southern California World Water Forum, as well as a $15,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency - People, Prosperity and the Planet Student Design Competition for Sustainability.  Read More

Kisailus Recognized for Fostering Undergraduate Research

June 10, 2012

David Kisailus has been awarded the 2012 Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research. Award recipients are chosen by the Academic Senate's Committee on Scholarships and Honors and given annually to two faculty members with a distinguished record of fostering undergraduate research or creative activity.

Kisailus's Research on Mantis Shrimp is Published in Science

June 7, 2012

David Kisailus, Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering will have his research on the mantis shrimp published in Science.  By studying the architecture of the shrimp's hammer-like claws, Kisailus hopes to apply it to "design lighter, stronger materials for military, medical, and other applications."  Read more about the research in Science

CEE Welcomes New Faculty Member David Jassby

June 1, 2012

The Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering welcomes new Assistant Professor David Jassby who will start on July 1, 2012. David earned his Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Duke University. His main research areas focus on the development of novel membranes for water treatment applications, as well as the fate and transport of nanomaterials in complex media. In particular, David is interested in combining nanomaterials with different properties to generate highly efficient water treatment membranes that solve some of the problems associated with membrane use, such as biofouling. His work has resulted in the creation of new class of electrically conductive membranes that inhibit bacterial growth in water treatment processes. The goal of David's work is to find creative solutions to pressing water-related challenges, such as the treatment of emerging contaminants and environmental remediation.

CEE Welcomes New Faculty Member Haizhou Liu

June 1, 2012

The Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering welcomes new Assistant Professor Haizhou Liu who will start on January 1, 2013. Haizhou earned his Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Washington with postdoctoral fellow experience at the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on advancing the knowledge and application of environmental chemical processes at the molecular level to provide more reliable water supplies and protect public health. Specific research interests in this area include the control of metallic contaminants in natural and engineered aquatic systems, the development of novel advanced oxidation technologies for water treatment, and the application of electrochemistry for study of environmental redox reactions. Haizhou's lab will integrate fundamental principles of aquatic chemistry, electrochemistry, process design and kinetic modeling to address challenges in water quality.

Hongjia Li Awarded the Martin Keller Award for Best Student Poster at BESC

June 1, 2012

Hongjia Li, a current CEE Ph.D. graduate student has been awarded the Martin Keller Award for Best Student Poster in the Characterization Focus Area of the $25 million/year BioEnergy Science Center (BESC).  Li was one of 11 student posters for that Focus Area and one of the 30 total student posters for all three BESC Focus Areas.  This is the third time the UCR team has won this award, with previous winners being Jaclyn DeMartini and Heather McKenzie, for the 4 BESC Retreats held since the Center began operations in the fall of 2007.

Ph.D. Alumni Heather McKenzie Accepts Faculty Position at University of British Columbia

June 1, 2012

Heather McKenzie earned her Ph.D. in Chemical and Environmental Engineering at UCR in Spring 2012.  She has agreed to take an Assistant Professor position in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of British Columbia starting August 1, 2012.

Ph.D. Alumni Berat Haznedaroglu Accepts Faculty Position at University of Buffalo

June 1, 2012

Berat Haznedaroglu earned his Ph.D. in Chemical and Environmental Engineering at UCR in Spring 2010 and has worked as a Postdoctoral Associate at Yale University.  He has agreed to take an Assistant Professor position in the Department of Civil, Structural, and Environmental Engineering at the University at Buffalo starting Fall 2012.

Ph.D. Alumni Shen-Long Tsai Accepts Faculty Position at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology

June 1, 2012

Shen-Long Tsai earned his Ph.D. in Chemical and Environmental Engineering at UCR in Fall 2011.  He has agreed to take an Assistant Professor position in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (NTUST).

BCOE Team Wins WERC Design Competition

April 23, 2012

A team of BCOE students won the top award at the international environmental design competition at WERC: A Consortium for Environmental Education and Technology Development in Las Cruces, N.M., earlier this month. They earned the 2012 Intel Environmental Innovation Award for developing a reusable storm drain oil filter made from 100 percent recycled materials.

UCR Today Press Release

BCOE Team Wins EPA P3 Competition

April 11, 2012

A team of BCOE graduates has been awarded a $90,000 first-place grant from the EPA's People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) Student Design Competition for Sustainability it was announced yesterday in Washington, D.C. The grant will help them continue to work on a system they designed that eliminates the need for a clothes dryer and could save a homeowner nearly $6,500 over 20 years.

UCR Today Press Release

BCOE Laboratory Named for Innovation Economy Corporation

April 3, 2012

The lab of Nosang Myung, Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, was named the Innovation Economy Corporation Laboratory during a ceremony Tuesday, April 3, recognizing the company's support in commercializing Myung's research in creating devices to detect harmful airborne substances.

UCR Today Press Release

Asa-Awuku Awarded NSF CAREER Grant

February 14, 2012

Assistant Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering Akua Asa-Awuku has been awarded the prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER award for her research on atmospheric aerosol particles and their role in air pollution and climate change.

BCOE News Release

Christopher to Speak at TEDxUCR

November 30, 2011

Phillip Christopher, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering will give a talk entitled, "Manipulating Atoms for Your Everyday Life" at TEDxUCR.  The talk will include Christopher's ongoing research in the development of catalytic chemical conversion processes that are environmentally friendly and approach 100 percent efficiency in the conversion of natural resources to desired products.  The goal behind TEDx events is to share and spread ideas from different backgrounds and fields.  TEDxUCR will take place on December 3, 2011 beginning at 8:30 AM in Winston Chung Hall 205/206.  For more information about the event please visit the official website below.

TEDxUCR Website

NSF Grant to Aid Women Faculty in STEM Fields

October 26, 2011

Sharon WalkerSharon Walker, Associate Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering and John Babbage Chair in Environmental Engineering is co-principal investigator on a National Science Foundation grant awarded to UCR to develop a program aimed at recruiting, retaining and developing the leadership skills of women faculty in the sciences, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

Read More: UCR Newsroom

Myung Represents BCOE in Establishing Strategic Partnerships With Three Korean Universities

October 19, 2011

Nosang Myung

BCOE Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering Nosang Myung represented BCOE at ceremonies celebrating three new agreements with institutions in Korea in September, extending the global reach of the college in research, education and commercialization.

Myung traveled to Korea to deliver the memoranda of understanding for academic cooperation with the Korea Institute of Materials Sciences, the College of Engineering at Hanyang University, and global materials and components company LG Innotek.

Among the collaborative activities that BCOE will engage in with the three organizations are visits and exchanges of faculty, researchers and administrators; joint conferences, symposia and meetings; research and training; and undergraduate and graduate student exchange programs.

A subsidiary of the Korea Institute of Machinery and Metals, the Korea Institute of Materials Science, is led by President Kyung-Mox Cho (pictured on the right with Myung) and has 214 researchers, engineers and administrators and a budget of $68 million USD. It is organized in four divisions: structural materials, functional materials, materials processing, and industrial technology support.

The agreement with Hanyang University is an extension of an agreement with BCOE that was signed in February 2011. The new agreement enhances the research collaboration between the two institutions by providing a set of guidelines allowing students pursuing an M.S. degree at HYU's College of Engineering to apply and be admitted to the UCR-BCOE Ph.D. program.

LG Innotek, a global company with 59 affiliated companies and more than 200,000 employees is one of the world's top 10 components and materials companies, focusing on the mobile, display, network and automotive markets. Like the agreements with the two academic institutions, the MOU with LG Innotek provides for the exchange of faculty, researchers and administrators in specific areas of research and commercialization.

Nosang Myung MOU

Pictured are (left to right): Yong-ho Choa, professor of fine chemical engineering, Hanyang University; Frank Chung-Hoon Rhee, vice dean of engineering of Hanyang University; Dong Hyuk Shin, dean, College of Engineering, Hangyang University; Kyung Joon Lee, vice president, LG Innotek; Nosang Myung; Se Han Kwon, research fellow/group leader, LG Innotek; Seok Kwang Park, senior manager, LG Innotek; and Hyung Eui Lee, R & D planning group manager, LG Innotek.

"The agreements will provide our faculty and students with new opportunities to collaborate with engineers and scientists at Korea's leading academic and business institutions," Myung said. "We are excited about the many possibilities that this kind of global collaboration offers in developing new materials and new solutions."

BCOE News Release

2011 CEE Graduate Student Symposium

October 7, 2011

The CEE Annual Graduate Student Symposium was held on September 19 – 20, 2011. The annual symposium is a culmination of CEE graduate student research for the 2010-2011 academic year. Students gain invaluable experience by honing their presentations for a large audience that consists of their peers and faculty. First year students participated in a poster session while students years two and above gave Power Point presentations. All student presentations were graded by a faculty panel and awards were given by student year. Graduate students voted for a Student Choice Award winner that replaced the previous Best Overall Presentation award. The winning students this year were:

Student Choice Winner: Wilson (Yang) Li
Best First Year Poster Presentation: Jill (Ji) Luo
Best Second Year Presentation: Miluo Zhang
Best Third Year Presentation: Qianqian Wang
Best Fourth/Fifth Year Presentation: Heather McKenzie

2011 Symposium Winners

Pictured from left to right: Nosang Myung (Department Chair), Heather McKenzie, Qianqian Wang, Jill Luo, Miluo Zhang, Wilson Li, and Sharon Walker (Graduate Advisor)

Asa-Awuku Awarded EPA STAR Research Grant

September 27, 2011

Akua Asa-AwukuThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a STAR Research Grant, to Akua Asa-Awuku, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, to study the impact of black carbon (BC) particles on health, air quality and climate.

The goal of the three-year project is to better understand how man-made pollutants affect the mechanism of wet droplet formation, both in our lungs and in the atmosphere, according to Prof. Asa-Awuku.

When carbonaceous fuels are burned, tiny black carbon particles are emitted, as well as lighter in color organic compounds (OC). These particles can be as small as a few nanometers, and are known to serve as seeds (or nuclei) for droplet formation. The mechanism of how the two types of carbon species interact in droplet formation is little understood and may have broad implications – for issues from climate change to human health.

There are few places in the world where the physical and chemical interaction of such minute particles can be realistically observed. As a researcher at CERT, Asa-Awuku has access to the world's largest indoor atmospheric processes chamber, housing dual 90-cubic-meter reactors where atmospheric particles can be studied in great detail and in real-time.

Black carbon particles are insoluble, she said, but OC compounds react readily with water vapor. When the two types of carbon interact, what are the ramifications for droplet formation?

In addition, while PM pollution has already been tied to health problems, the mechanisms that lead to adverse health effects is not well understood, she explained.

STAR grants (Science to Achieve Results) are "awarded to the nation's leading scientists and engineers that will improve the scientific basis for national environmental decisions," according to EPA's National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) which administers the program. Asa-Awuku's successful proposal in the highly competitive EPA program is titled "Understanding the Hygroscopic Properties of Black Carbon/Organic Carbon Mixing States: Connecting Climate and Health Impacts of Anthropogenic Aerosol."

To study the tiny particles, Asa-Awuku makes optical measurements based on the reflective properties (color) of carbonaceous aerosol. Various organic compounds appear lighter in color than black carbon. Depending on how light or dark they are, the particles can have  either a cooling (scattering) or a warming (absorbing) effectsin the atmosphere.  In addition the chemical composition of the various colored particles can be extremely different.

"Particles in the atmosphere that affect your health also affect the climate," Asa-Awuku said. The same nucleation principles for wet droplet growth apply to cloud formation. Water vapor condenses on particles to promote droplet formation. In this way, Prof. Asa-Awuku hopes that her research will contribute to our understanding of both health and climate change.

In addition to the advanced Atmospheric Processes Laboratory at CERT, Asa-Awuku will also draw on the expertise of the Center's Emissions and Fuels Group as well as its Alternative Transportation Fuels Research Center of Excellence to measure the in-situ cloud droplet formation ability of black carbon emissions from engines burning various diesel and biodiesel fuel blends.

Link to CE-CERT

Aerosol-Cloud-Climate Research Group

Kisailus and Students to Discuss Bioinspired Materials at Riverside Metropolitan Museum June 11th

May 25, 2011

David Kisailus, Assistant Professor in Chemical and Environmental Engineering and his students will bring a collection of sea creatures to the Riverside Metropolitan Museum on June 11 to show how they are inspiring the design of everyday materials.

Kisailus, 11 undergraduate students and five graduate students who work in his lab, will be giving the presentation from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the museum, 3580 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside. It’s free and open to the public. Advance registration is not required.

“We are bringing the ocean to the Inland Empire,” Kisailus said. “This will be a great opportunity for people to see our sea animals and how they have inspired us to make the next generation of engineering materials.”

The talk is the part of the museum’s Citizen Science program, which uses demonstrations, workshops and hands-on activities to show people the science that happens around them.

“This is a great opportunity to learn from living things how to construct tools that perform better and are more in tune with the environment,” said James Bryant, the museum’s natural history curator.

Marsha Ing, an Assistant Professor of Education at UC Riverside, will also be at the event. Ing is studying undergraduate students to assess what they gain from working in a lab.

“We are interested in improving undergraduate learning experiences by measuring what students do in the lab and relating their participation to different outcomes,” Ing said.

Kisailus, also a participating faculty member in the new Materials Science and Engineering Program at UC Riverside, will be bringing a mantis shrimp, red abalone and a marine snail called a chiton, starfish and sea urchins in a recently built portable aquarium.  He is studying the composition of the mantis shrimp’s arm, which is hard and durable and can accelerate faster than a 22-caliber bullet, and the red abalone, California’s largest marine snail, for inspiration for stronger, lighter-weight body armor for soldiers.

He is interested in the chiton because they have abrasion resistant teeth that are harder than steel and could inspire everything from improved dental drill bits to tunnel boring machines.

Kisailus is also interested in further extending these lessons from nature.

“We are now learning how these organisms produce these incredible materials so that we can build materials for energy-based applications such as super efficient lithium ion batteries and solar cells,” he said.

Among the students taking part in the museum event are:

• Steven Herrera, a fourth-year chemical engineering major from Riverside who is returning for another year to get a second degree in materials science and engineering, who is working with the mantis shrimp.

• Ana Bowlus, a fourth-year material sciences and engineering major from Temecula, who is working on synthesizing zinc oxide, a material found in sun screen, to make more efficient dye-sensitized solar cells, which are much less expensive to produce compared to traditional silicon-based solar cells, but not nearly as efficient.

• Alexander “Sasha” Dudchenko, a third-year chemical engineering major from Dublin, in the Bay area, is working with nanoscale titanium dioxide, a material found in household paints, to construct filters to clean water.

Link to UCR News Release

Announcement Flyer

CEE Welcomes New Faculty Member Phillip Christopher

May 10, 2011

Phillip ChristopherThe Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering welcomes new Assistant Professor Phillip Christopher who will start on July 1, 2011. Phillip will earn his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His main area of research focuses on developing chemical processes for efficient, environmentally friendly conversion of natural resources to fuels and commodity chemicals. Specifically his research aims to design catalytic materials that facilitate desired chemical transformations by utilizing thermal, electrical and solar energy. His work has resulted in the synthesis of new catalysts for the production of ethylene oxide, an extremely important chemical intermediate. In addition, his research highlights creative strategies for utilizing solar energy to drive the production of fuels from water and important commodity chemicals from natural resources. His approach towards the design of novel catalytic materials and processes combines fundamental insights gained from molecular scale modeling with advanced synthetic techniques. To learn more about Phillip click here.

CEE Welcomes New Faculty Member Xin Ge

April 20, 2011

Xin GeThe Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering welcomes new Assistant Professor Xin Ge who will start on July 1, 2011. Xin earned his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from McMaster University with Postdoctoral Fellow experience at the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. His research interest is to integrate synthetic biology, directed evolution, systems metagenomics, and other biochemical engineering approaches to develop novel processes for the sustainable production of high value products. More specifically, to discover and develop bio-pharmaceuticals with desired activity and potent; and genetically engineer microorganisms that can produce specialty chemicals, fuels,and materialseco-friendly. Another area of interest is to develop highly efficient bioremediation systems for the degradation of toxic pollutants. To learn more about Xin click here.

CEE Welcomes New Faculty Member Ian Wheeldon

April 20, 2011

Ian WheeldonThe Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering welcomes new Assistant Professor Ian Wheeldon who will start on July 1, 2011. Ian earned his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Columbia University with Postdoctoral Fellow experience at The Center for Biomedical Engineering at Brigham and Woman’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School and The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. Ian’s research envisions re-engineering and redesigning proteins, enzymes, and biological parts to create modular biological systems and new adaptive materials. By developing new protein engineering technologies and bio-inspired designs Ian’s lab will address challenges in bioenergy, biocatalysis, and biological materials.  To learn more about Ian click here.

CEE Students Win International Environmental Design Contest

April 13, 2011

WERC 2011A team of University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering students placed first last week at an international environmental design competition for a system they created to clean hard, brackish water for municipal water districts.

The team’s cumulative score was the highest in the 21-year history of the Waste-Management Education & Research Consortium contest in Las Cruces, N.M. Past participants have included the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and Cornell University.

“This is a historic achievement,” said Kawai Tam, the students' advisor and a lecturer at the Bourns College of Engineering.

In addition, one of the team members, James Gutierrez, received the Terry McManus Outstanding student award. Gutierrez, a graduate of Rancho Verde High School in Moreno Valley, served in the Army Reserves for six years before enrolling at UC Riverside. The senior environmental engineering major will be pursuing his Ph.D. at Yale University starting in September.

“This award was about a commitment to sustainability,” Gutierrez said. “This has to be something that is part of your life, the way you think and a fundamental concern every day. Even so, I was very surprised and speechless during the awarding.”

The other four team members are senior chemical engineering majors:  Alfred Liu, of San Gabriel, who is looking for a post-graduation job; Cindy Brito, of Anaheim, who will be pursuing her Ph.D. at UC Santa Barbara in the fall; Andrew Mikkelson, of Hemet, who after graduating will be spending two years in school to be an officer on a Navy nuclear submarine; and Caleb Stanton, of Escondido, who will be attending Loma Linda University to seek a master’s degree in geology this fall.

Nineteen teams from 14 universities competed at the contest hosted by New Mexico State University’s Institute for Energy and the Environment. The UC Riverside team, which was sponsored by the Western Municipal Water District, took home a first place trophy and received a $2,500 prize.

The team, which called itself Waterwerx and created stickers with the team name to affix to their cell phones during the competition, was judged on its oral presentation, written paper, bench-scale prototype and poster presentation. They were told by judges that their system had the potential to be adopted by municipal water districts.

The team’s challenge was to study the efficiency and economics of magnetic treatment on brackish water in a reverse osmosis treatment plant. Cleaning brackish water is a huge industry because of the high concentration of it throughout the world and U.S., especially in the Southwest, Midwest and Southern California.

Reverse osmosis uses high pressure to drive water through a semi-permeable membrane, creating a purified stream of water and a waste stream of the concentrated brackish water.  In the last decade, reverse osmosis has become the world’s leading desalination technology. In the U.S., most reverse osmosis plants are concentrated on the coasts because they can inexpensively dispose of the waste stream in the ocean.

At inland reverse osmosis plants, waste disposal is more expensive and water supply is often limited. Consequently, inland plants need to operate at the maximum recovery rate to minimize concentrated waste. However, at high rates of recovery reverse osmosis membranes tend to break down. Membrane replacement and maintenance constitute nearly 35 percent of operating costs.

The students found that cost can be cut and water saved by using magnetic treatment in tandem with a chemical precipitation process, a method already used industrially that involves adding chemicals to cut the amount of salt collecting on the membrane. This method increases water recovery from 80 percent to 96 percent, they found.

Link to UCR News Release

Research Led by Charles Wyman Could Lead to Less Expensive Production of Biofuels

April 4, 2011

Charles WymanNew clues about plant structure are helping researchers from the Department of Energy’s BioEnergy Science Center narrow down a large collection of poplar tree candidates and identify winners for future use in biofuel production.

Led by Charles Wyman of the Bourns College of Engineering’s Center for Environmental Research and Technology at the University of California, Riverside, a research team from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and UCR determined that the amount and composition of lignin in the plant’s cell wall interact in an unanticipated way to influence release of sugar from the plant.

The research was published as “Lignin content in natural Populus variants affects sugar release,” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Lignin serves as a major roadblock for biofuel production because it forms strong bonds with sugars and interferes with access to these carbohydrates, making it difficult to extract the plant’s sugars contained in cellulose and hemicellulose for conversion to transportation fuels.

“The real driver for bioenergy is how to get sugar as cheaply as possible from these recalcitrant materials,” Wyman said. “We’re looking for clues as to which traits in these poplar materials will lead to better sugar release.”

Using a high-throughput screening method, the BESC researchers rapidly analyzed an unprecedented number of poplar core samples in their search to understand the chemical factors that drive sugar yields.

The analysis revealed a correlation between one plant trait, the S/G ratio, and increased sugar yields. The ratio refers to the two main building blocks of lignin – syringyl and guaiacyl subunits.

"The conventional wisdom is that high lignin contents are bad for sugar release," said lead author Michael Studer. "We unexpectedly found that this statement is only valid for low S/G ratios, while at high S/G ratios lignin does not negatively influence yields. However, replacement of carbohydrates with lignin reduces the maximum possible sugar release."

"Another interesting result was that the samples with the highest sugar release belonged to the group with average S/G ratios and lignin contents. This finding points to a need for deeper understanding of cell wall structure before plants can be rationally engineered for efficient biofuels production,” Studer said.

The team’s study also pinpointed certain poplar samples that produced unusually high sugar yields with no pretreatment. Biofuel production typically requires various pretreatments, such as applying high temperature and pressure to the biomass. Reducing pretreatment would represent a substantial decrease in the price of liquid transportation fuels produced from lignocellulosic feedstocks like poplar.

“It's very enticing that several of the samples released more sugar than typical with no pretreatment,” Wyman said.

Poplar trees, botanically known as Populus, represent the leading woody crop candidate for the production of biomass feedstocks for the creation of biofuels in the U.S. Naturally occurring selections of poplar trees contained wide variations in all observed traits, says Gerald Tuskan, an ORNL plant biologist and one of the co-leads of the study.

“We can mine this natural variability and find extreme poplar phenotypes that have value in increasing sugar yield,” Tuskan said. “Moreover, these native individuals are adapted to local environments.”

From this work, superior poplar cultivars may soon be available for commercial testing and propagation, yielding plant materials that will contribute to reducing the nation’s dependence on fossil fuel based transportation fuels.  The team, supported by BESC at ORNL, included co-lead Mark Davis and Robert Sykes from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Jaclyn DeMartini from UCR, and Brian Davison and Martin Keller from ORNL.

BESC is one of three DOE Bioenergy Research Centers established by the DOE's Office of Science in 2007. The centers support multidisciplinary, multi-institutional research teams pursuing the fundamental scientific breakthroughs needed to make production of cellulosic biofuels, or biofuels from nonfood plant fiber, cost-effective on a national scale. The three centers are coordinated at ORNL, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of Wisconsin-Madison in partnership with Michigan State University.

The Bourns College of Engineering's Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT) at UCR is a model for partnerships between industry, government and academia. It is a recognized leader in research and education in the areas of atmospheric processes, emissions and fuels, sustainable energy and transportation systems.  ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy's Office of Science.

Link to UCR News Release

Asa-Awuku to Deliver Imagining the Future Lecture March 16th

March 1, 2011

Asa-AwukuAkua Asa-Awuku, assistant professor of chemical and environmental engineering at BCOE and the Center for Environmental Research and Technology, will present, "Is There a Silver Lining in Air Quality? Understanding Cloud Droplet Formation" on Wednesday, March 16, at 6 p.m., at UCR's Palm Desert Campus.

Part of the ongoing Imagining the Future Lecture Series, her talk will address aerosols, or particles, emitted into the air that have adverse effects for regional air quality and health. She will discuss parameters that affect organic droplet growth, and discusses the links between cloud formation and air quality. More information, including a map to the Palm Desert campus and a link to on-line registration, is available here.

Environmental and Transportation Research Pioneer Joseph Norbeck to be Honored

March 1, 2011

NorbeckOn the eve of his retirement, a reception honoring the service of Joseph Norbeck, W. Ruel Johnson Professor, director of the UCR Environmental Research Institute and founding director of the College of Engineering – Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT), will be held Wednesday, Mar. 2, from 5 to 8 p.m. at CE-CERT headquarters, 1084 Columbia Ave., in Riverside.

A brief presentation recognizing his distinguished career in industry in academia will begin at 7:30 p.m. Parking and refreshments are free.

Norbeck joined the University of California, Riverside, in January 1992, after working as head of the Chemistry Department, Research Staff, at Ford Motor Co. He earned his Ph.D. in theoretical chemistry from the University of Nebraska and has published more than 75 papers in theoretical chemistry, atmospheric modeling, vehicle emissions and advanced vehicle technology.

Norbeck’s recent research includes the relationship between vehicle emissions and air quality, development of renewable fuels, and development of advanced vehicle technology. Norbeck was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1999. He received the South Coast Air Quality Management District Clean Air Award in 1995, the Valley Group Award in 1997 for Excellence in Environment and Research, and was elected as local leader for the City of Riverside and received the Regional Leader of the Year Award in 1998.

He has held a gubernatorial appointment as an Air Quality Expert on the California Inspection/Maintenance Review Committee and is a member of several other committees, including the Cal/EPA Environmental Technology Partnership Task Force, the Executive Research Advisory Committee of the Society of Automotive Engineers, and Scientific Review Committee for the South Coast Air Quality Management District. In December, he was named to the Advisory Committee of the California Energy Commission’s Alternative Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program.

Engineering Students Win Award from National Clean Energy Contest

February 16, 2011

A team of University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering undergraduate students received national honors Wednesday for the third time in the past year for their research aimed at generating hydrogen and developing clean, affordable fuel cells to generate electricity.

The students - Jason Skovgard, Joon-Bok Lee, Christian Contreras and Marcus Chiu, all fourth-year chemical engineering majors, and Joshua Goins, an MBA student - finished among the top three of 54 teams from throughout the world, and first among U.S. teams, in a Department of Energy contest in Washington, D.C. The University of Waterloo in Canada won the grand prize. UC Riverside and Imperial College London received honorable mention awards.

The UC Riverside team won for their design for a residential hydrogen fueling system for a hydrogen vehicle in a single family home.

“It’s thrilling to be honored, especially when you are competing against students at top universities like Harvard and Princeton,” said Contreras, a graduate of Cathedral City High School.

In January, the American Public Power Association awarded the team one of 10 Demonstration of Energy-Efficient Developments (DEED) awards.

In May 2010, the students received a $10,000 phase one grant from the Environmental Protection Agency's National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (EPA P3). In April, the students will return to Washington, D.C. to find out if they won the $75,000 phase two grant.

“It’s really remarkable what these students have accomplished,” said Kawai Tam, the students' advisor and a lecturer at the Bourns College of Engineering. “This one team has won the most awards in the history of our chemical and environmental engineering department.”

Under the guidance of Tam and Yushan Yan, a professor of chemical and environmental engineering, the students started work on the project in September 2009 for the EPA P3 competition. They were looking for an efficient, affordable and green way to bring electricity to the quarter of the world’s population that lives without it.

Sunlight is one of the most promising sources of untapped energy. And, it is clean and seemingly limitless. However, the cost per watt of power generated from sunlight is five to 10 times more expensive compared to fossil fuels.  Part of the added cost is attributed to difficulties in storing energy collected from the sun so that it can be used at night, when there is no sunlight. The fuel cell holds promise in solving this problem.  At its core, a fuel cell requires hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity with water as the only byproduct.  An electrolyzer conducts this reaction in reverse, with energy being used to revert water to hydrogen and oxygen.

The UC Riverside students’ research focuses on combining the fuel cell and electrolyzer into what they call a regenerative hydroxide exchange membrane fuel cell system.  The electrolyzer splits water to generate hydrogen and the fuel cell generate power using the hydrogen. The water byproduct created by the fuel cell is spit back in the electrolyzer and the process starts again.

The key innovation is a newly developed quaternary phosphonium-based hydroxide exchange membrane that allows use of catalysts such as nickel or silver, which are thousands of times less expensive than platinum, a catalyst now commonly used.  By combining the membrane with a fuel cell/electrolyzer set up, a commercial prototype may only be a few years away. The students are now working on developing a prototype.

“This is not your normal fuel cell,” Yan said. “This is really a new breed.”

Link to UCR News Release

Robert Haddon Selected as Winner of Richard E. Smalley Research Award

November 15, 2010

Robert HaddonRobert Haddon, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Chemical and Environmental Engineering, has been selected to receive the 2010 Richard E. Smalley Research Award from the Electrochemical Society (ECS), the society for solid-state and electrochemical science and technology.

The award, sponsored by the Fullerenes, Nanotubes, and Carbon Nanostructure Division of the Society, recognizes those who have made outstanding contributions to the understanding and applications of fullerenes – molecules composed entirely of carbon, in the form of hollow spheres, ellipsoids, or tubes.

The formal presentation of the award will occur at the society’s annual meeting in Montreal, Canada, on May 2, 2011. The award includes a scroll, $1,000, and travel funds to attend the annual meeting, where Haddon will give a lecture. He is cited for “pioneering contributions to the chemistry, synthesis, electronic structure, magnetism, properties, understanding and application of carbon fullerenes, nanotubes and graphene and the prediction and discovery of conductivity and superconductivity in alkali metal doped C60.” 

Haddon joined the faculty at UCR in 2000 with a joint appointment in UCR’s Bourns College of Engineering and College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences. He is the Director of the Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering and in 2008 was awarded the James C. McGroddy Prize for New Materials from the American Physical Society (APS).

Haddon grew up in Longford, Tasmania, and earned his B Sc (Hon) degree at Melbourne University and his Ph.D. in organic chemistry at the Pennsylvania State University. His research interests are in the areas of the electronic structure and properties of molecules and materials, with particular emphasis on transport, magnetism, superconductivity, device fabrication, nanotechnology, and the discovery of new classes of electronic materials.

In collaboration with colleagues at AT&T Bell Laboratories, he discovered the alkali metal fullerides and their conductivity properties and the occurrence of superconductivity in the A3C60 compounds (A=K,Rb). In 1991, he was named the Person of the Year by Superconductor Week, and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Physical Society.

Charles Wyman Named Among World's Top 100 in Bioenergy

November 12, 2010

Charles WymanWhat do the U.S. Secretaries of Energy, Agriculture and the Navy have in common with a CE-CERT faculty engineer?  They are all on a list of the world’s most influential experts in bioenergy compiled by the readers and editors of Biofuels Digest.

Charles Wyman, the Ford Motor Company Professor of Environmental Engineering at CE-CERT, was named to the list compiled from 15,000 votes by the publications readers, who identified more than 400 leaders in biofuels around the world.

The list was heavy with names of industry chief executive officers from a dozen nations, including those of three Brazilian bioenergy giants UNICA, Cosan and Petrobras.

Wyman was among eight academics noted on the list, including three from University of California campuses.

While the bulk of the biofuels industry uses corn starch (U.S.) or sugar cane (Brazil), Wyman’s research focuses exclusively on technologies which can produce ethanol and other fuels from non-food cellulosic materials which now largely end up in landfills.

The U.S. Departments of Energy and Agriculture recently estimated 1.3 billion tons of biomass could be available for conversion into transportation fuels. Some examples of existing sources are: agricultural wastes, corn stover, sawdust, yard waste, waste paper and industrial waste. Rapidly growing herbaceous or woody crops could also be cultivated as biomass for fuel sources.

Knowledgeable sources noted that Wyman landed one of the highest vote totals as a co-founder of Mascoma (also high on the list) among other projects, and as a leader at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Wyman’s lab at CE-CERT specializes in using heat, chemicals, and enzymes to break down cellulosic materials and generate sugars and other compounds from the plant structures for conversion to fuels. In one project, results from CE-CERT are applied by other members of the Bioenergy Science Center, a partnership of scientists and engineers led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory working to develop an economically viable biofuels industry based on non-food feed stocks. Another project supports the production of jet fuel through support of projects by the University of Massachusetts and Logos Technologies funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Akua Asa-Awuku and Elaine Haberer Earn NSF BRIGE Awards

October 29, 2010

Bourns College of Engineering assistant professors Akua Asa-Awuku and Elaine Haberer have been awarded the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) highly competitive Broadening Participation Research Initiation Grants in Engineering (BRIGE), it was announced recently.

These are BCoE’s second and third BRIGE awards since the program began in 2008. Assistant Professor of Bioengineering Julia Lyubovitsky earned the award in 2009 for her project, “Towards the in-situ analysis of the assembly of structural proteins by multi-photon optical image guided spectroscopy.” The NSF awards only 27 to 30 BRIGE grants per year.

AkuaAsa-Awuku (photo, left), a member of the faculty in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering and the College of Engineering-Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT), was awarded the grant for her research proposal, “Development of a Novel Organic-Water Thermodynamic Measurement and Modeling Technique for Health and Climate Applications.”

Haberer, a member of the faculty in the Department of Electrical Engineering and the Materials Science and Engineering Program, was awarded the grant for her proposal, “An Integrated Research and Education Program for Viral-Templated Type-II Nanostructured Heterojunctions for Photovoltaics.”

The NSF’s BRIGE program offers research initiation grant funding opportunities with the goal of broadening participation to all engineers including members from groups underrepresented in the engineering disciplines. Another goal is to support innovative plans for recruiting and retaining a broad representation of researchers in programs supported by these grants.

Asa-Awuku’s primary research interest is understanding and predicting aerosol-cloud climate interactions, specifically, the impact of warm cumulus clouds that may counteract the warming effects of greenhouse gases and models of cloud microphysical processes. Her research explores the water-uptake of organic particles as it pertains to aerosol hygroscopicity, cloud condensation nuclei activation and droplet growth.

The goal of Asa-Awuku’s BRIGE research is to develop a novel and transformative measurement and modeling technique to investigate the ability of organic components to take up water in the atmosphere. The results of the project will have significant implications in air quality, climate, and health and the results will be incorporated into a long-term research plan relevant to the priorities of the NSF’s Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems (CBET) program. The success of the project will result in unique cross-cutting research and educational opportunities to broaden the participation of all citizens in engineering related research.

Asa-Awuku and her undergraduate and graduate student team will conduct their research in the state-of-the-art air pollution laboratory CE-CERT, which provides opportunities for her research team to interact with the worldwide air pollution research community of scientists and engineers from academic institutions, government agencies and industry. Already, her research is involved in broadening the participation of K-12 students with high school science fair projects in air pollution. Last year the students took first place in the Earth Sciences division of the Riverside unified district high school fair, and this year they look forward to repeating their success. Through local seminars and involvement in community programs and regional science fairs, she hopes to inspire K-12 students to pursue careers in science and engineering.

Asa-Awuku joined the faculty at BCoE in 2009. She received her Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2008, her M.S in chemical engineering at Georgia Tech in 2006, and her B.S in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2003. In 2008, Asa-Awuku served as a Camille and Henry Dreyfus Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies at Carnegie Mellon University.

Haberer’s research interests include bio-templated materials for electronic, optoelectronic and energy applications, nano-structured hybrid materials, and novel top-down and bottom-up assembly techniques. The objective of her BRIGE project is to assemble nanostructured materials and devices with superior electrical transport properties. More specifically, she intends to use viruses to build nanostructured materials for solar cells, which are both highly efficient and affordable, a combination which has been elusive to date.

“There is much to be learned from nature in the area of materials assembly,” Haberer said. “Biomolecules, such as viruses, are capable of building nanostructures which are not possible with conventional synthetic techniques. Such geometries can be very useful in the development of more efficient solar cells.”

Haberer’s BRIGE Award will also provide support for a number of mentoring and outreach activities designed to increase diversity and broaden participation in engineering through coursework, research experience and professional development opportunities. 

Haberer will collaborate with Assistant Professor Marsha Ing from UCR’s Graduate School of Education in co-teaching a service-learning course for both education and engineering undergraduates through the Undergraduate Research in the Community (UGRC) program at UCR. The students will work as a team to develop, teach, assess and redesign lessons in solar energy, which will include “hands-on” experimental activities for students in UCR’s Math Engineering Science and Achievement (MESA) Schools Program. Haberer and Ing will partner with one science club or classroom for each course, offering to cultivate connections between the undergraduates and the MESA student participants.

Haberer joined the faculty at BCoE in 2009. She earned her Ph.D. in materials science from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) in 2005 and her M.S. and B.S. in materials science and engineering from MIT in 1998 and 1997, respectively. Her postgraduate research, completed at UCSB, explored viral-based assembly of inorganic materials. In addition to her teaching and outreach experience at MIT and UCSB, she served as coordinator for the California NanoSystems Institute Apprentice Researcher Program, a six-week summer internship program for high school students.

Research Aims to Lighten Load Carried by Soldiers

September 16, 2010

Yushan YanA UC Riverside Bourns College of Engineering professor and a team of researchers nationwide were recently awarded a five-year, $6.25 million grant to develop a greener, lighter-weight and longer-lasting power source for armed service members increasingly reliant on electronic devices.

Yushan Yan, Professor and Chair of the UCR Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, and researchers from the Colorado School of Mines, University of Massachusetts, Amherst and University of Chicago, received the grant to study the possibility of replacing batteries with fuel cells.

The research is funded by the Department of Defense under the
Multidisciplinary University Initiative program. Yan’s portion of the grant is $875,000.

Currently, armed service members carry up to 30 pounds of batteries for a mission of 72 hours to power everything from night-vision goggles to GPS devices.

The research by Yan and the other scientists could lead to the development of fuel cells that would be up to 80 percent lighter than batteries. The fuel cells could also increase the life of devices in the field by up to five times, Yan said.

Small, portable methanol fuel cells exist today, but they require the use expensive metal catalysts, such as platinum. The researchers aim to develop a new class of ion conducting polymer membranes that would eliminate the need for expensive metal catalysts.

While the research is being funded by the military, it could provide the groundwork for fuel cell advances in other industries, particularly transportation, said Yan, who has been studying fuel cells since 1999, a year after he was hired by UCR.

In addition to fuel cells, Yan also studies zeolite, a microporous mineral widely used for water purification, as a catalyst in petroleum refining and in the production of laundry detergents.

Yan was recently honored for that research when he was presented with the 2010
Donald W. Breck Award by the International Zeolite Association at the 16th International Zeolite Conference in July in Sorrento, Italy.

The Breck award, which is given at the association’s meeting every three years, honors an individual or group who has made the most significant contribution to molecular sieve science and technology. Yan shared the award with Ryong Ryoo, a professor of chemistry at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Daejeon, South Korea.

Yan’s zeolite research focuses on zeolite thin films as insulators for computer chips, corrosion-resistant coatings for aircraft aluminum alloys, and hydrophilic and antimicrobial coatings for water separation in a space station.

Link to UCR News Release

Cwiertny and Walker Earn NSF CAREER Awards 

September 1, 2010

Walker_CwiertnyDavid Cwiertny and Sharon Walker, members of the faculty in the Bourns College of Engineering’s Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering have been named recipients of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) CAREER award, the prestigious grant for promising junior faculty members. 

It is rare for two members of the same institution to be recognized with the CAREER award at the same time, particularly by the same NSF panel. 

Walker, who is Associate Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering and the John Babbage Chair in Environmental Engineering, will use the grant for her project, “Fundamentals of Nanoparticle Behavior in Water Treatment.” She will study the unintended consequences of nanotechnology, including the release and accumulation of engineered nanoparticles in surface and ground waters. Walker will seek to identify the fate and transport of nanoparticles (with dimensions of roughly 1 to 100 nanometers) in traditional water treatment facilities, and to identify the mechanisms leading to their removal in these critical engineered systems. 

The project builds on Walker’s background in colloidal and bacterial stability and filtration, colloidal characterization and deposition quantification, as well as microscopic visualization techniques.

Nanomaterial manufacturing is on the rise, as demonstrated by production of titanium dioxide (TiO2) reaching 40,000 metric tons per year in the U.S. alone. Since 2002, the NSF and the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency has committed more than $25 million to investigate the applications and implications of nanotechnology, and many researchers are investigating the problematic interactions of nanoparticles with organisms. While many nanomaterials have been shown to be toxic, their adverse effects on organisms will be inevitably be governed by their fate and transport in the environment—processes that are still not well understood. 

In addition to providing insights into best practices for protecting human health and informing practitioners in setting standards for water treatment, Walker will use the grant to work with the local community to engage K-12 and college students in environmental science and engineering. Collaborating with the Riverside Unified School District, she will assist with judging and awarding a new Science Fair prize for budding environmental engineers, develop a program for students on designing Science Fair projects using examples of water quality, and coordinate a seminar at Riverside Community College with a theme of science and engineering. 

Earlier this year, Walker was awarded a grant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to direct the development of a collaborative program on water sustainability with Ben Gurion University (BGU) of the Negev in Israel.

Beginning her sixth hear at the Bourns College of Engineering in 2010-11, Walker is active in a number of programs to ensure student success and diversity, including serving as faculty advisor for the UCR chapters of the Society of Women Engineers and the national engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi. She also serves as a mentor and speaker for the San Gorgonio Girl Scout Council’s summer programs, “Minds for Design” and “Engineer IT.”

Cwiertny is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering and a cooperating member of the faculty in BCOE’s Program in Materials Science and Engineering. The CAREER award will support his project, “Hybrid Nanostructures as Catalysts for Advanced Oxidation Processes: An Integrated Research and Education Plan Promoting Water Reuse and Sustainability.” 

He will fabricate and optimize an innovative, nanomaterial-based technology for advanced water treatment, while promoting diversity in environmental engineering and education initiatives focused on water sustainability and nanotechnology. Cwiertny will utilize a promising class of nanomaterials—hybrid carbon nanotubes (CNTs)—to optimize advanced oxidation processes through their catalytic production of hydroxyl radical from ozone. 

Cwiertny joined the faculty at BCOE in 2007. His research interests are environmental chemistry, pollutant fate and transport, and applications of nanotechnology for environmental quality control.

He is also co-principal investigator with Walker on a three-year project funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate the natural processes to disinfect pathogens in water supplies.

Through their study, “Photochemical Disinfection of Pathogens: Influence of Extracellular Polymeric Substances on Bactericidal Capacity of Reactive Oxygen Species,” they hope to understand the combination of factors which contribute to the fate of agriculturally introduced bacteria, such as E. coli, occurring by photochemical disinfection. 

Cwiertny is a faculty advisor for the BCOE student chapters of Tau Beta Pi and Engineers Without Borders, which supports community-driven development programs worldwide through the design and implementation of sustainable engineering projects, while fostering responsible leadership. One of the organization’s ongoing projects is to improve water quality in San Lorenzo, Guatemala.

In 2008, the Committee on Research, Riverside Division of the Academic Senate awarded Cwiertny a Regents’ Faculty Fellowship and Faculty Development Award for his project, “Using sunlight for water disinfection: Understanding the formation and bactericidal activity of photochemically generated reactive oxygen species.” 

The NSF’s CAREER award recognizes the work of teacher-scholars deemed likely to be academic leaders of the future. Cwiertny and Walker are the 19th and 20th members of BCOE’s 84-member faculty to receive the CAREER award. Some 400 young faculty members are chosen each year for the CAREER grants, which range from $300,000 to more than $750,000 over five years. More than 2,500 assistant professors from U.S. academic institutions, laboratories and museums apply each year.

International Zeolite Association Recognizes Yushan Yan with Donald W. Breck Award

August 10, 2010

Yan Breck AwardYushan Yan, Professor and Chair of the BCOE Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, was presented with the 2010 Donald W. Breck Award by the International Zeolite Association (IZA) at the 16th International Zeolite Conference (IZC), held jointly with the 7th International Mesostructured Materials Symposium, July 4 to July 9, 2010, in Sorrento, Italy.

The Breck award, which is given at the association’s meeting every three years, honors an individual or group who has made the most significant contribution to molecular sieve science and technology.

According to IZA president François Fajula, "The 2010 Breck Award is given to Yushan Yan and Ryong Ryoo for their respective contributions in advancing the science of zeolite thin films and the direct synthesis of zeolite nanosheets." Ryoo is a professor of chemistry at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Daejeon, South Korea.

ZeoliteYan’s research focuses on zeolite thin films as insulators for computer chips, corrosion-resistant coatings for aerospace alloys, and hydrophilic and antimicrobial coatings for water separation in a space station. Another research interest of his is fuel cell catalysts and membranes. An illustration of the structure of zeolite LTA is shown at left.

Yan joined UC Riverside in 1998 as assistant professor and was promoted to associate professor in 2002 and professor in 2005. In 2006, he was chosen as one of the five inaugural University Scholars. He was appointed department chair in 2008. His research has been widely cited in the scientific community and also extensively covered by the media and technical magazines including New Scientist, Business Week, Materials Today, CNN, CNBC and China Press, among others.

The Breck award was created to honor Donald W. Breck of the Union Carbide Corporation, who was a major figure in the early development of synthetic molecular sieves and one of the founders of the IZA.  His landmark book, “Zeolite Molecular Sieves: Structure, Chemistry, and Use” (1974), summarized the first 25 years of zeolite science and technology, and occupies a special place in the library of any molecular sieve scientist.

Following his untimely death in 1980, the Union Carbide Corporation proposed the establishment of an award in his memory to be sponsored by Union Carbide Corporation and administered by the IZA. The first award was presented in 1983 at the Sixth IZC in Reno, Nev. The award is presented at each IZA conference “to an individual or group for significant contribution to molecular sieve science and technology achieved since the last conference.” 

USDA Awards Grant to Sharon Walker for International Collaboration on Water Research

July 9, 2010

Sharon WalkerSharon Walker, Associate Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering and the John Babbage Chair in Environmental Engineering, has been awarded a grant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to direct the development of a collaborative program on water sustainability with Ben Gurion University (BGU) of the Negev in Israel.

Along with co-principal director Moshe Hershberg of BGU, Walker will establish an international, interdisciplinary research and education collaboration leading to innovative approaches to the management of water for agricultural uses, which are essential in the U.S. and Israel. Despite its small size and limited resources, Israel has achieved the highest rate of water reclamation in the world (40 percent). Conversely, the U.S. was ranked last for water efficiency among the nations ranked by the World Water Council in 2004. Forty-two percent of water in the U.S. is lost to evaporation through irrigation.

The project, “Water Sustainability in Desert Agriculture: Enhancing relationships with global competency of graduate students and faculty through collaboration with Israel,” has three components:

  1. Hands-on experience and exposure for students and faculty to Israel’s water management and agricultural research in short visits for faculty and extended visits for students. 
  2. Shared curricular materials for undergraduate and graduate course development to enhance the international content of existing courses at both UCR and BGU.
  3. Dissemination of information to assist U.S. scholars in becoming acquainted scientifically and culturally with Israeli water management and research, particularly as it affects sustainable agriculture in desert regions.

The project will link UCR faculty in the Bourns College of Engineering’s Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering and the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences’ Department of Environmental Sciences. Ultimately, faculty and students will share their findings with researchers at UCR and BGU, and with agricultural professionals through the UCR Cooperative Extension and other venues, including the USDA Land and Sea Grant National Conference.

Growth in the demand for water is a challenge throughout the world, and Israel and Inland Southern California are no exception. Israel’s water use in 2010 has been estimated at 2400 million cubic meters (MCM), of which 50 percent is for agricultural use. Reclaimed municipal wastewater is an increasingly important source of water for agriculture in Israel, where its use has jumped from 25 percent in 2000 to 37 percent in 2010 and it is projected to be 46 percent in 2020.

A semi-arid region with rainfall only slightly more than the Negev region of Israel, Riverside is one of the five fastest-growing regions in the U.S., with a population increase of 23.7 percent from 2000 to 2006. Drawing much of its water from the Sierra Nevada snowpack and the Colorado River, the region is currently dealing with the effects of a 10-year drought. Lake Mead, the reservoir for the Colorado River, is at its lowest level since 1965, and the Sierra Nevada snowpack is predicted to decrease between 25 and 40 percent by 2050.

The Municipal Water District, a consortium of 26 Southern California water districts, has funded an ambitious program to meet demand by expanding its water recycling and groundwater recovery efforts, with a goal of adding approximately 200 MCM to the 445 MCM it currently produces each year. Similarly, the California Department of Water Resources is seeking to increase the state’s water supply by more than 1,230 MCM per year through water reuse.

Walker's research focuses on the physical, chemical and biological processes in natural and engineered aquatic systems. The overall goal of her work is to optimize effective water treatment and distribution, wastewater reclamation, and to understand mechanisms controlling particle transport in aquatic environments.

Walker spent the 2009-10 academic year on a Fulbright Scholarship based in Sde Boker, Israel, the location of the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research of The Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, a satellite research campus of BGU of the Negev. Her work was the subject of a story in the Jerusalem Post, where she was quoted as saying, “At the end of the day, I want to help make sure that people have a clean glass of water.”

Bourns Student Teams Win EPA P3 Awards

June 1, 2010

Two teams of Bourns College of Engineering students have been awarded Phase One awards in the 2010 7th annual Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3).

The two $10,000 grants will allow the teams to develop their projects and travel to Washington, D.C., next year to make presentations and compete for the $75,000 Phase 2 grant to further their designs, implement them in the field or move them to the marketplace. This is the second year in a row that both teams from UCR that submitted proposals were successful in earning the Phase One grant.

Two UCR teams that won Phase One grants in 2009 went to this year’s competition in April at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with the sixth annual National Sustainable Design Expo. At the expo, the students' projects, which seek to apply technology in innovative ways to tackle global environmental challenges, were judged by a panel of experts.

EPA P3 teamOne of UCR’s teams (photo, right) was recognized with an honorable mention for their project, “Using Waste to Clean Up the Environment: Cellulosic Ethanol, the Future of Fuels.” In the photo are (left to right): Anthony Turgman, Josh Garong, Kawai Tam, Vu Nguyen, Christine Kwon, and Paul Anastas, assistant administrator for research and development at the EPA. (Photo courtesy EPA)

The first team earning this year’s Phase One award includes Chemical and Environmental Engineering (CEE) senior and sophomore students Douglas Duchon, Phillip Brendecke, Joshua Comfort, Thinh Vo, and Stephanie Stasiuk, who will work on the project, "Converting Campus Waste Streams into Locally Used Energy Products through Steam Hydrogasification and Methane Reformation."

CEE junior students Marcus Chiu, Christian Contreras, Joon-Bok Lee and Jason Skovgard make up the second team and their project is "Grid-independent Electricity Generation for Remote Areas Based on a Unitized Regenerative Hydroxide Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell System."

The students will be supervised by Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering lecturer Kawai Tam and professors Joe Norbeck and Yushan Yan, who also serves as department chair. This is the fourth time UCR teams have won the P3 award. Previous winners were in 2005, 2007 and 2009. Tam has coordinated UCR’s participation in the EPA competition at UCR since 2004.

BCOE Team Earns Second Place Award in International Environmental Design Competition

March 31, 2010

A team of students from Bourns College of Engineering earned a second place award at the WERC 20th International Environmental Design Contest hosted by New Mexico State University’s College of Engineering Institute for Energy and the Environment in Las Cruces, N.M., March 28-31.

WERC teamThe award-winning team was made up of Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering (CEE) seniors Mina Ghabbour, Bryan Goldsmith, Robert Bonderer, Kyle Pease and Dylan Switzer (pictured in photo, left to right).

A consortium for environmental education and technology development based in New Mexico, WERC holds the annual competition that attracts teams from colleges and universities from the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

This was UCR’s highest-ever finish in this competition. Their task, which was one of four given to the teams, was "Reduction of Direct Greenhouse Gas Emissions from a Mine."

The students were judged by a panel of 11 expert judges on their written paper, oral presentation, bench-scale demonstration and poster presentation. The second-place award included a trophy and a cash award.

WERC team with Kawai TamThey were accompanied at the competition by faculty adviser and CEE lecturer Kawai Tam (photo, far right). “This was the first time since we began participating in 2007 that we placed in the top two, so we are ecstatic,” said Tam.

This year’s WERC competition was sponsored by the Department of Energy, Office of Naval Research Science and Technology, Intel, Food and Drug Administration, Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold, Water Research Foundation and New Mexico State University.

Yan Predicts the Next 20 Years in Energy

March 12, 2010

Professor Yushan YanGlobal energy consumption surely will go up in the next 20 years, but will petroleum consumption fall? Professor Yushan Yan addressed that question and the overall future of energy in a talk March 10 as part of the Bourns College of Engineering 20th Anniversary Distinguished Lecture Series.

Unlike most forecasts, Yan's outlook calls for petroleum consumption to actually decrease by 2030. Renewable energy, mainly from wind, biomass, and the sun, will begin to play a much larger role in the world's energy mix, he said. And coal consumption also could go up.

U.S. energy consumption has declined over the past 20 years despite a rising population because of increasing efficiency. However, as much of the rest of the world develops, demand for energy will rise. Yan said 1.5 billion people don't have electricity and 2.5 billion people don't have access to cooking fuels today. He grew up in a small village in a rural area of China, and remembers his family's home getting electricity when he was 7 years old.

Demand, supply, and carbon dioxide impacts on global climate are the three controlling factors for the world's energy future. Yan, who is Chair of UCR's Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, said policy, technology, and finance will have a big impact on those variables. "Necessity is the mother of invention, and price generates necessity," he said.

In his lecture, Yan outlined the important role that hydrogen is likely to play. Hydrogen can be linked with solar and wind systems as a medium to store and transport energy, he said. Efficient and inexpensive fuel cells will make it possible to electrolyze water into hydrogen and oxygen. These gases (or liquids such as ethanol from renewable biomass) then can be run back through the fuel cell to produce electricity where and when needed. Yan's group has been a leader in developing low-cost, high-efficiency alternatives to the proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell. He recently received one of the first awards from the new Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to pursue potentially transformative membrane technology.

Wu's Team Produces Coating that Repels Ice

January 21, 2010

Jianzhong WuJianzhong Wu, Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, is part of a team developing easily applied anti-ice coatings for solid surfaces such as roads, airplane exteriors and power lines. Di Gao, the team's leader, is a former Bourns College postdoctoral researcher and is now an assistant professor at another university. US News and World Report, United Press International,, Science Daily and the American Chemical Society's journal Langmuir are examples of the many places the work has been reported.

Inspired by the self-cleaning ridged surface of lotus leaves, the nanoparticle-based coating was an extension of research on water repellants. However, ice behaves differently than water, so coatings must be specifically formulated to repel ice formation. The team discovered that a superhydrophobic surface decorated with containing silica particles less than 50 nanometers in size completely prevented icing.

Applications for this technology could result in safer roadways, less likelihood of tree limbs breaking, and the prevention of ice buildup on surfaces of airplanes and other equipment subject to extreme weather conditions.

Energy Commission Awards $1 Million for Facility

December 9, 2009

Joseph NorbeckJoseph Norbeck, Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering and director of the Environmental Research Institute, was awarded a $1 million grant by the California Energy Commission to build a process demonstration unit that will convert biosolid waste to diesel fuel. The facility will be located at the College of Engineering-Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT).

Norbeck, professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering and director of the Environmental Research Institute, is the Principal Investigator for the project. It will use a steam hydrogasification process to convert biosolids (treated sewage sludge) from Riverside's wastewater treatment facility, commingled with green waste, into clean synthetic fuel. This process was developed at CE-CERT in partnership with Viresco Energy, a synthetic fuel company located in Riverside.

The process was recently evaluated by the National Energy Technology Laboratory of the U.S. Department of energy, and found to be 12 percent more efficient and 18 percent lower in capital costs than all other mainstream gasification technologies. It can use yard wastes, agricultural byproducts, waste wood and municipal wastes which currently end up in landfills.

Link to UCR News Release

Yan's Fuel Cell Research Chosen for New DOE Program

December 4, 2009

Yushan YanYushan Yan, Professor and Chair of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, has developed a revolutionary new design for alkaline polymer electrolyte membranes that eliminate the need for using expensive catalyst materials in fuel cells. The design has the potential to drastically reduce the cost of fuel cells and enable their widespread application in building and automotive applications. He is one of the first-ever recipients of the ARPA-E award, receiving $760,705 to fund his research.

Proton exchange membrane fuel cells have been intensively investigated for powering vehicles, home and electronics during the last two decades. Their commercialization has been hampered by the high cost and low durability of their platinum or platinum group metals electrocatalysts. Yan's high-performance hydroxide exchange membrane fuel cells are radically different, with unique properties such as the highest hydroxide-conductivity, highest alkaline stability and excellent solubility in desired solvents.

The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) is a highly selective new program in the Department of Energy that funds high-impact projects with great potential to revolutionize the U.S. energy sector. Some 3,700 qualifying Concept Papers were submitted, resulting in 37 awards to universities and corporations.

Link to UCR News Release

Chen Developing Low-cost Method to Produce Fuel

November 7, 2009

Wilfred ChenWilfred Chen, Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, is leading a consortium that is developing a one-step consolidated bioprocessing method for direct fermentation of cellulose to ethanol. This would create a cost-effective way to convert an abundant non-food related agricultural residue into vehicle fuel. The result would be reduction of environmental pollution, enhancement of the value of farmers' crops, and less need for imported petroleum.

The new Energy Policy Act is requiring that several billion gallons of renewable fuel must be produced by 2012, with most produced as biofuel using renewable biomass. While the cost of other raw materials can be high, this form of lignocellulosic biomass is especially well-suited for energy applications because of its availability, low cost and environmentally benign production. The raw material can be found in wheat straw, corn stalk and soybean residues, industrial waste from the pulp and paper industry, forestry residues and municipal solid waste.

Chen is the Principal Investigator for the project, which also involves researchers at two other universities. The National Science Foundation (NSF) is providing the funding; Riverside's portion of the award is $600,000. Continuing synthetic yeast cellusome research at UCR is being funded by NSF and the Department of Energy.

Link to UCR News Release

BCOE Environmental Projects Capture Two Awards

October 19, 2009

P3 WinnersTwo teams from the Chemical and Environmental Engineering Department at BCOE were awarded $10,000 each and the opportunity to compete at the highest level in the Environmental Protection Agency's P3 competition. Four California universities were chosen for the awards, but UCR was the only campus with two prize-winning teams.

"P3" stands for People, Prosperity and the Planet. Winners of Phase I receive $10,000 at the start of the academic year and use the grant to develop their design projects. In April, all teams must submit their final reports from Phase I as well as their proposals for Phase II. All P3 grant recipients attend the National Sustainable Design Expo featuring the highest level P3 competition, held in Washington, D.C. Up to $75,000 is given to the best student designs, providing an opportunity to further these designs, implement them in the field, and move them to the marketplace.

One of the BCOE teams developed a solar concentration concept where the sun's rays are focused through a Fresnel lens (originally developed for lighthouses), with the resulting heat used to distill clean water out of dirty water. The team, pictured above with a mock-up of their device, is (l. to r.) Professor Mark Matsumoto (Principal Investigator), John Johnson, Chris Salinas, Parham Javadinajjar, Wesley Chen, Alex Chen, Luke Chen and Professor Kawai Tam (advisor). Wesley, Alex and Luke are recent additions to the team as a former member, Elizha West, graduated and is working on a remediation project for URS Corporation's Washington Division in Washington State. Elizha will rejoin the team in Washington, D.C. for the next level of the competition.

The other award-winning group is working with cellulosic ethanol made from waste wood, an effort that helps clean up the environment at the same time it is creating fuel. They are (pictured below from l. to r.) Anthony Turgman, Vu Nguyen, Jian Shi (post-doctoral student), Ramon Josh Garong and Christine Kwon in front of Ramon. The Principal Investigator for this project is Charles Wyman (not pictured).P3 Ethanol Team

This isn't the first time BCOE teams have captured the P3 award; they also won the first phase in 2005 and in 2007. Professor Tam has coordinated the teams since 2004, the year after the EPA and its partners began the award program to promote innovative thinking for moving the world toward sustainability. The competition is designed to help college students gain new skills as they research, design, develop and implement scientific solutions to environmental challenges.

Link to UCR News Release

2009 CEE Graduate Student Symposium

October 9, 2009

Symposium WinnersThe CEE Annual Graduate Student Symposium was held on September 22 – 23, 2009. The annual symposium is a culmination of CEE graduate student research for the 2008-2009 academic year. Students gain invaluable experience by honing their presentations for a large audience that consists of their peers and faculty.

First year students participated in a poster session while students years two and above presented via Power Point slide show. All student presentations were graded by a faculty panel and a best presentation winner was chosen for each student year. The winning students this year were:

Best Overall Presentation: Garrett Milliron

Best First Year Poster Presentation: Garrett Milliron

Best Second Year Presentation: Heather McKenzie

Best Third Year Presentation: Shen Long Tsai

Best Fourth/Fifth Year Presentation: Christy Yeh

CEE Alumni Student Accepts Faculty Position at SINANO

September 15, 2009

Ting Zhang

Ting Zhang, Ph.D. has accepted an Associate Professor position at the International Laboratory (iLab) at Suzhou Institute of Nano-tech and Nano-bionics (SINANO), a new institute that is joint-founded by the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) and the governments of Jiangsu Province and Suzhou city. His current research will focus on sensor platforms for environmental monitoring.

After obtaining his Ph.D. in Chemical and Environmental Engineering from UCR in 2007, Zhang worked in industry before accepting his new faculty position. Zhang credits his education within the CEE Graduate Program at UCR for giving him an advantage for the position: “The institute was looking for an individual with American advanced education in nano and environmental engineering background, specializing in nanosensor platform development…my education and research [at] UCR [was] a good match with the position.”

Yan Makes Breakthrough in Fuel Cell Technology

September 1, 2009

Yushan Yan

Yushan Yan, Professor and Chair of the Chemical and Environmental Engineering department, has made a major discovery in the field of fuel cells. He and his team have developed a high performance, low cost hydroxide conducting polymer membrane that allows for the replacement of precious metal fuel cell catalysts. The work is the cover story for the international edition of the German chemical engineering journal Angewandte Chemie.

The membrane conducts hydroxide ions instead of hydrogen ions, which increases fuel cell efficiency. The new technology also has the potential to be used with a variety of fuels besides hydrogen, including sustainable and biodegradable ones.

As Yan's innovation is commercialized, a massive drop in the cost of goods needed to produce fuel cells is expected, resulting in a lower price point per watt than internal combustion engines and batteries. It has been licensed to Full Cycle Energy for commercialization. The company is already commercializing Yan's platinum nanotube fuel cell catalyst (PtNT) which is expected to cut the cost of conventional platinum fuel cells by at least two-thirds while improving durability tenfold.

Yan says that this new breakthrough will make fuel cells so efficient and inexpensive that it could revolutionize energy conversion and storage on a global scale.

Angewandte Chemie Article

Kisailus Teams with GM in Mollusk Study

July 15, 2009

KisailusDavid Kisailus, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, studies sea creatures to learn how to design and make cost-effective and environmentally friendly high-performance materials. He is collaborating with General Motors on a study of the iridescent lining of seashells, which has been funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

Kisailus is applying lessons learned from the study of biological systems for the synthesis of functional engineering materials that are efficient, durable and safe that could be used to manufacture lightweight, impact-absorbing vehicles. He has observed natural systems with the ability to control nano- and microstructural features that significantly improve mechanical properties of otherwise brittle materials. An example is an organic-inorganic and impact-resistant nanocomposite that makes up the inner layer of some seashells.

By using biologically inspired synthesis strategies, Kisailus aims to develop cost-effective and environmentally friendly three-dimensional composites. The project will use natural systems to bridge multiple fields of biology, materials science and mechanical engineering to create new technological capabilities. Analysis and testing will be performed using facilities at UCR, General Motors and the Air Force Research Laboratory. Two post-doctoral researchers, a graduate student and two undergraduates will assist at Bourns College; for Kisailus, undergraduate involvement is critical to the successful development of the next generation of scientists and engineers.

Chen Collaborating with Squibb Company

July 2, 2009

wilfred chenWilfred Chen, Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, is participating in a cross industry-academic collaboration with Bristol Myers Squibb Company (BMS) to investigate a new method for human antibody capture and purification that would be a lower cost, less complex alternative the current industry standard. Antibodies are used by the immune system to identify and neutralize bacteria and viruses. Therapies based on antibodies have been gaining momentum for prevention and treatment of infectious diseases, protection against biological warfare agents, and as therapeutic agents for the treatment of diseases like cancer.

The project is part of the National Science Foundation's Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry, and includes support for two graduate students, one from UCR and one from another university. The students will be able to carry out a portion of their work in-house at BMS, who is also sponsoring visits between the company facility and the labs of the various researchers. The graduate students will gain valuable experience in protein purification and fermentation, and an integrated perspective of the important interfaces and synergies connecting biochemistry, modern genetics and process engineering.

NSF's Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI) program promotes university-industry partnerships by making project funds or fellowships/
traineeships available to support an eclectic mix of industry-university linkages. It allows faculty, postdoctoral fellows and students to conduct research and gain experience in an industrial setting, helps industrial scientists and engineers to bring industry's perspective and integrative skills to academe, and supports interdisciplinary university-industry teams in conducting research projects. The program targets high-risk/high-gain research with a focus on fundamental research, development of innovative collaborative industry-university educational programs, and direct transfer of new knowledge between academe and industry.

Walker Awarded Fulbright for Research, Teaching in Israel

June 4, 2009

Walker Sharon Walker, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship that will support nine months of water quality research in Israel, from September 2009 through July 2010. Her research has the potential to transform the way in which infectious agents in underground layers containing water used for drinking are monitored, and their presence assessed. Her work will provide insight into best practices for protection of human and animal health, and help set standards for water management.

Walker will collaborate with faculty from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research, bringing together expertise in environmental and chemical engineering, and molecular and micro-biology. She will also present a two-week intensive short course at Ben-Gurion University based on a graduate-level class she developed at UCR, titled "Physical, Chemical and Biological Processes Controlling the Fate of Particles in Aquatic Environments."

Walker has previously delivered lectures abroad; she was invited to speak in China, the Netherlands and England. As she points out, issues of water management and quality are universal. Through her combination of research and lecturing, she intends to enhance international partnerships and interdisciplinary efforts by developing collaboration with Israeli researchers, students and at multi-disciplinary meetings and conferences.

Team Member Named Top Student at WERC Competition

April 15, 2009

team and judges Breanne Bornemann won the Terry McManus Memorial Award for Most Outstanding Student at the WERC Consortium competition in New Mexico on April 8. This award honors a student that goes above and beyond the academic curriculum and includes a plaque and a $1,000 cash prize.

Kawai Tam, the team's advisor, nominated Bornemann for her work and passion in starting the UCR student chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB), and her ongoing efforts in helping the adopted village of Pastores Sacatequez, Guatemala to improve water and sanitation safety.

Bornemann is one of four BCOE team members, all Environmental Engineering seniors, who participated in Task 3, a design process for pretreatment of brackish water. They were sponsored by Western Municipal Water District, a member agency of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

The team created a prototype for cascade aeration and modified activated carbon to treat key contaminants of iron, manganese, and aluminum which foul reverse osmosis and electrodialysis reversal water treatment processes. A highlight was that they incorporated sustainable energy in their process by designing a solar pond that would power all the pumps in their pretreatment process.

By being involved in the competition the team was able to benefit from the judges' expertise in the field, and gain new knowledge and perspectives. It was also an opportunity for them to network. A couple of the judges requested that the students contact them after the competition to discuss their project further. In the photo, the team is fielding questions from judges. The students, in lab coats, are (l. to r.) Mihir Desai, Tyler Colyer, Troy Ezeh, and Breanne Bornemann.

WERC is a consortium for environmental education and technology development that has come to be widely recognized for its commitment to the nation's environment and natural resources. The organization's threefold program aims to achieve environmental excellence through education, public outreach, and technology development and deployment.

Kisailus' Squid Study in Science Journal Nature

February 9, 2009

Kisailus and Weaver Chemical and Environmental Engineering Professor David Kisailus' latest work on squid sucker rings has been highlighted by Nature, the international weekly journal of science, and will be the April cover story for the peer-reviewed journal Advanced Materials.

Kisailus (left) and his research associate James Weaver (right) are investigating the sucker rings of the Humboldt squid, which are very strong and effective at immobilizing captured prey. The interdisciplinary team for this project also includes Professor Henrik Birkedal from Aarhus University in Denmark, Dr. Ali Miserez and Todd Schneeberk from UC Santa Barbara and Dr. Roger Hanlon from the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

Kisailus and Weaver are interested in studying sea creatures in order to develop environmentally benign ways to synthesize multifunctional materials by duplicating nature's strengths. While material science constructs crystals using high temperature processing that allows little control over their size and shape, nature synthesizes them at low temperature and maintains greater control over the size and shape. Processing at lower temperatures would be much more cost-effective for making nanostructures for engineering applications and use in the energy field.

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